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Crisafulli Doesn't Bite after Senate Democrats File Legal Documents to Force House Back

April 29, 2015 - 6:00pm

UPDATED: Senate Democrats might have opted to challenge the constitutionality of the House's three-and-a-half-day-early exit from the 2015 Legislature, but Thursday evening Speaker Steve Crisafulli responded through an email to House members:

Not interested.

Wrote Crisafulli, "As you may have heard, 13 Senate Democrat members filed a lawsuit asking the Florida Supreme Court to tell our chamber to reconvene.

"We strongly disagree with the arguments that were filed by 13 Democrat members of the Senate and believe that the Houses actions complied with the Constitution and the historic practices of both Chambers."

Crisafulli concluded, "Accordingly, I have no plans to ask you to return to Tallahassee at this time. I look forward to filing our response tomorrow (Friday) and will provide you with an electronic copy."

On Thursday afternoon Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, and the Senate Democratic Caucus filed a writ of mandamus with the Florida Supreme Court. The Senate Democrats asked the justices to deliver an expedited ruling on whether the House violated the Florida Constitution by adjourning without prior notice.

"The people of Florida did not send us here to waste time on their dime, said Joyner. They sent us here to get the job done."

Sen. Joyner said if the Florida Supreme Court sides with Senate Democrats, the representatives who dont come back to Tallahassee should be held in contempt of court. The Florida Supreme Court said the House had until Friday morning to respond.

The move comes a day after Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, demanded the House reconvene for the 2015 regular session.

The course of action you have taken is not only unconstitutional; it is unprecedented under our present state Constitution, wrote Gardiner in a letter to the House.

The House adjourned early Tuesday afternoon amid an impasse with the Senate over whether or not the state should expand Medicaid in Florida. The House and Gov. Rick Scott strongly oppose the expansion while the Senate supports it.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, questioned why Gardiner hadnt brought up Medicaid expansion earlier and said the House would meet the Senate for a special session.

Gardiners response: Meet us for a special session beginning June 1 and ending June 20.

Beginning our special session on June 1 will provide additional time to receive a response from the federal government and we can conclude with ample time for Governor Scott to review the budget prior to June 30, he wrote to Crisafulli Thursday. Gardiner also said he remained hopeful the House would move closer to the Senate budget position

Gov. Rick Scott said he, too, would begin preparing his own budget which wouldnt include Low Income Pool funding money.

We should begin preparing a budget in the interim that could be taken up in a special session without any LIP funding and without any expansion of Obamacare, Scott said. I look forward to continuing to work with Senate and House leaders in the weeks ahead to address critical funding needs and identify when and how we can direct over $1 billion in surplus state tax revenue back to the Florida citizens who earned it. After all, this is their money not governments.

Crisafulli had not yet agreed to a June start date as of this articles release.

THIS IS A BREAKING STORY. Check back for further updates.

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