Editorial: Legislative session shaping up as test of wills

Editorial | Bradenton Herald | 03/06/2011

Florida could be in store for grand political theater over the next few months once the Legislature convenes Tuesday for its annual session.

With Republicans holding an overwhelming majority in both the House and Senate, Democrats could get steamrolled. But the best acts in this play should come from Gov. Rick Scott’s relationship with fellow GOP stalwarts.

The governor has already disgruntled several Republican legislators by sidestepping the Legislature’s legal mandates and proper role in government. Scott will not be able to reign supreme since the GOP holds veto-proof majorities in both chambers. But with his Florida Supreme Court victory Friday over high-speed rail, Scott may become emboldened for more confrontation.

Since Republicans are resisting a number of Scott’s budget proposals — most notably on education, pension contributions from state employees and public school teachers, and tax and fee reductions — this is shaping up as a test of wills. This year’s regular session could be a rugged affair.

Florida faces far too many critical issues to get bogged down in a power struggle. Jobs and an economic recovery top the list. The major issues include education, redistricting, growth management, state pensions, immigration, tax cuts, term limits, health care and property insurance. With a projected $3.6 billion revenue shortfall, spending cuts will be painful.

We’ve already opined on the flawed immigration bill, Scott’s ill-advised proposal to gradually eliminate the state’s already low corporate income tax, and the need to ease legislative term limits to reduce the influence of special interest money. Today, we’ll focus on three other issues that promise to be contentious.

* * *

Political reapportionment

Legislative and congressional districts are redrawn every decade after census figures become final.

With the passage of two constitutional amendments in Florida, districts must be compact and contiguous, not gerrymandered exercises in politics where the party in power creates as many voter-friendly districts as possible to ensure continued dominance.

Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Sarasota, supports the change while Bennett expects amendment provisions to be nearly impossible to fulfill.

We fully support implementation since political power belongs to the people.

With Florida set to receive two more seats in Congress in 2012, this is a critical issue — one destined to be decided in a courtroom as elected officials are now suing to overturn the amendments.

Read more: http://www.bradenton.com/2011/03/06/3007838_p2/legislative-session-shaping-up.html#ixzz1Ft5qkn3n

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