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Politics

Florida House: We're Not Coming Back to Tallahassee

April 30, 2015 - 6:00pm

The Florida House of Representatives said it wasnt interested in returning to Tallahassee to finish out the last day of the 2015 regular legislative session on Friday.

In a response to an emergency writ of mandamus filed by Senate Democrats Thursday, attorneys for the Florida House said Friday Senate Dems had provided no basis for the Florida Supreme Court to even consider their emergency petition to bring the House back to the state Capitol.

Petitioners have no 'clear legal right' to the presence of the House of Representatives until midnight on May 1, 2015, read the document.

Both because there is no basis for the exercise of this courts jurisdiction and because there is no merit to the legal claim asserted, this court should decline the petitioners' invitation to intrude upon the internal affairs of the legislative branch, the House argued. The petition should be dismissed or denied.

The official response hardly comes as a surprise -- House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, told his fellow representatives he had no intention of calling them back to Tallahassee.

"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, he wrote in an email.

"Accordingly, I have no plans to ask you to return to Tallahassee at this time, Crisafulli concluded.

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, asking 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."

The House officially adjourned Tuesday due to disagreements with the Senate over whether or not Florida should expand Medicaid. The Senate favors expanding Medicaid while the House and Gov. Rick Scott are against it.

The decision to bring the early adjournment to court wasnt entirely unexpected -- Senate President Andy Gardiner raised the possibility Wednesday, calling the Houses actions unconstitutional and unprecedented.

Gardiner requested the two chambers meet for a special session beginning June 1 and ending June 20. The start date would give ample time to the federal government to respond to the states request to extend Low Income Pool funding as well as give Gov. Rick Scott time to review the budget.

Friday was supposed to be a day full of hustle at the Capitol, but the halls were empty as the regular session ended with a whimper and not a bang.

The date for a special session had not yet been determined as of this articles release.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen

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