Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Florida’s Government at War: A Tale of Two Chambers and the Executive Branch

Our state government is slowly grinding to a halt. Committee meetings are being canceled, bills are being stalled, and frustrations mount as our government slowly seems to be closing shop for the year. You might assume that the narrative is typical: Republicans vs. Democrats, Liberals vs. Conservatives, or change vs. the status quo. But, like almost everything in Florida, it’s more frustrating and petty.

As some of you may know, the Florida Legislature is split into two distinct chambers: The House of Representatives and the Senate — the House having more members and a more diverse population, and the Senate with its larger districts and more thoughtful approach to policy. The House and Senate both have their respective leadership; the House has the Speaker of the House and the Senate has the Senate President.

The legislative leadership has power over the individual members in that the leadership sets the political agenda that the members are “encouraged” to conform to. Depending on the person in the leadership position, the “encouragement” can be hostile or inconsequential. For example, if the House Speaker rules the House with an iron fist, they could pull individual members’ committee chair position, or could influence whether or not member’s bills get heard through back-door political dealings if the member does not vote for the Speaker’s interests.  

This has been the case this session. Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli (R-Merritt Island), has made sure that the House has stayed in line with his personal ideological agenda. Republican Crisafulli is staunchly opposed to the idea of expanding Medicaid in Florida, a hot button issue this session.

Policy analysts and medical experts warn that if Medicaid does not get expanded the federal government will stop funding the Low Income Pool, a safety net for hospitals if low-income patients cannot pay their bills, and that Florida’s health care system will face a critical shortage of funds.

On the Senate side, a proposal to expand Health care in a republican friendly way has passed through its approval process. A statement by Senate President Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando) read, “At this time, the Senate believes it has done everything possible to advance solutions to the health care challenges facing Florida. The time has come to find common ground and present a unified solution that is best for Floridians. We hope others will join us at the table to discuss a way forward.” He is speaking to the House members, pleading for them to come to terms with tackling the health care issue.

So who can act as a mediator in this 4.2 billion dollar squabble? If you answered the executive branch, you would be correct! But under the Governor Scott administration? Think again. Governor Scott flip-flopped last week regarding his stance on the Senate’s efforts to expand Medicaid. Previously he had sided with the Senate, pushing for reform, but it seems now he sides with the House. This action is not helping the drama unfolding in the legislature.

The issue of health care has come to a boiling point, and it seems like the legislature is shutting down. Because the House won’t play ball with the Senate on Medicaid, the Senate has displayed an unwillingness to approve things the House is interested in. Both sides seem to be packing up their toys and moving back home where they don’t have to play with others.

If you were interested in any legislation, good or bad, just know that it is shaping up to be a very unproductive session.  That open carry legislation you were worried about? Probably won’t happen. Ban on gay adoption?  Probably won’t happen. Anything that the House and Senate are arguing about? Probably won’t happen.

Gerrit Van Lent is a Senior studying Political Science, English, and Public Administration. He spends the majority of his time on campus or at the office of The Children's Campaign, a non-profit that informs elected officials and works on behalf of vulnerable and at-risk children, where he does public policy research and legislative affairs coordination. Gerrit is active on campus and in the community via Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed community service fraternity engaged in service around Tallahassee. In his free time, Gerrit enjoys practicing martial arts at Logan's Martial Arts Academy, skateboarding, listening to music, video games, and enjoying time with friends. His interests include eating candy, cooking, pets, action movies, dungeons and dragons, and other rad stuff.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️