Well, I made it through Press Skits. This event, hosted by the journalists who comprise the Florida Capitol Press Corps, pokes fun at Florida lawmakers in similar fashion to what you see on Saturday Night Live.

 

In addition to raising money for scholarships, Press Skits is a good litmus test for the topics and lawmakers who have our attention. We often joke that elected officials cringe when they are lampooned on stage yet are secretly delighted they were important enough to make the cut.


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During last week’s show, there were portrayals of President Donald Trump, Gov. Rick Scott, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran. We wrote skits that referred to the proposed demise of Visit Florida and the implementation of the medical marijuana amendment.

It was a fun time for a good cause; all proceeds benefit the Barbara Frye Scholarship for aspiring journalists. And now it’s time to get down to business as the week ahead is full of committee hearings and an increased focus on crafting the state budget.

Here are some other thoughts I have going into Week 3 …

Senate alliances reach their limit

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto had some choice, not-suitable-for-the-newspaper words for fellow Republican Sen. Jack Latvala after he helped kill a bill backed by Senate President Joe Negron, according to a report in Politico Florida. It was a reminder that Negron and Latvala might have called a truce to end their contentious battle for the Senate presidency, but Latvala is no doormat.

This will make the budget process interesting because Latvala is chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Negron’s priorities have large price tags, including a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee that would cost $2.4 billion. He also wants to boost spending on state universities and said he may need to cut money for hospitals to pay for it all.

We have focused a lot on the disagreements between the House and the Senate when it comes spending priorities. Before it even gets to that point, however, senators have to iron out their own differences and create that chamber’s plan.

House decides to test the Supreme Court … again

House Republicans have been vocal in criticizing decisions by the Florida Supreme Court to strike down laws passed by the Legislature. Speaker Richard Corcoran has accused left-leaning justices of “legislating from the bench.”

The counter-point is that the Republican-led Legislature continues to push through laws it knows will be struck down by the court. The most recent example is a bill that would increase prison sentences for undocumented immigrants found guilty of a crime. Opponents of House Bill 83 and Senate Bill 120 said that treating one group of citizens differently than the rest is unconstitutional, but the bills are still moving forward.

House sponsor, Rep. Dane Eagle, and his Republican colleagues said last week that they want to pass the measure and then see if the court strikes it down. It seems to me, Republicans want it both ways. They want to create new laws despite warnings about potential consequences, but they still want to claim moral outrage when the court reins them in.