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Politics

Backroom Briefing: Brian Pitts on the Matter of the Session

May 28, 2015 - 9:00pm

The Republican-led Legislature has been mocked by Democrats for failing to get a budget passed by the end of the regular legislative session. Lawmakers will have to trek back to Tallahassee in the heat of June to make things right.

But Brian Pitts, a loud and colorful gadfly known for his stamina and ability to appear at almost any legislative hearing without warning, thinks the consequences of the meltdown of the spring session should be even more profound.

According to Pitts, the early end of session by the House --- a move subsequently found to be unconstitutional by a majority of the Florida Supreme Court --- led to "all bill enactments becoming invalid as a matter of law as to the 2015 legislative regular session." At the very least, Pitts suggested in a 48-page brief filed with the Supreme Court, the courts should void any bills passed by the Senate after the House went home on April 28, more than three days before the session was scheduled to end.

Pitts, who represents an organization known as "Justice-2-Jesus," does allow that "the enactments may be retained in the state archives for only historic value and informational purposes."

The brief itself is quintessential Pitts --- lengthy, at times difficult to understand and filled with references to arcane legal rules and constitutional provisions. And there's a healthy dose of "I told you so."

"Petitioner (Pitts) is very knowledgeable concerning and active in what is the correct budgetary process, and since 2008 to date, has admonished and advised respondents, Gardiner, Crisafulli, and Florida Legislature to end their improper course of conduct," the brief says. "They have failed and refused to adhere."

The brief also calls for reform of the Legislature's procedure for claim bills --- which compensate victims of government negligence --- and for lawmakers to use annual bills that clean up mistakes in state law to also get rid of any provisions found unconstitutional by the courts.

Pitts is not a stranger to the Supreme Court or the claim bill process. In 2010, Pitts was jailed for practicing law without a license, after the court ordered him not to do so in 2003. Since then, claim bills have been periodically filed to compensate him for that and other, related difficulties. Most recently, Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, filed a measure (SB 50) that could have allowed Pitts to receive up to $7 million if an administrative law judge or special master decided the state had erred.

Meanwhile, Pitts would like lawmakers to know that for all his sharp words, he does treasure them.

"Petitioner, truly, has learned to love with all heart our dear State of Florida, and all the more, each unique and highly esteemed member of the Florida Legislature, but they should not, shall not, and cannot continue in their pattern of unbridle(d) discretion or abuse, whether intentional or not," he wrote in the brief.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court referred the case to Leon County circuit court. It did not make any judgment on the merits of Pitts' claims.

WELCOME TO FLORIDA. YOUR CUBA POLICY IS TERRIBLE

President Barack Obama was back in Florida this week for a little fundraising before taking a tour Thursday of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Gov. Rick Scott jumped on the opportunity to blast Obama, an activity Scott --- who isn't officially running for anything at the moment --- just can't seem to get enough of.

Scott has made a habit of issuing press releases vilifying Obama as a "welcome" for the Democrat's frequent visits to the state. But the communiques generally have been associated in some way with the nature of the presidential trip.

Not so in a missive issued Thursday by the governor's press shop in which Scott characterized Obama's decision to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism as "shameful."

"Cuba has done nothing to warrant being taken off this list. The Castro regime continues to undermine U.S. national security interests by sponsoring acts of terrorism. I will continue to stand with the pro-democracy movement in both Cuba and Florida in their fight against the Obama-Castro pact. The president should take time to reconsider this dangerous decision while in South Florida today," Scott said.

Cuba will likely be one of the hot topics up for discussion at an "economic summit" hosted next week by "Let's Get to Work," the campaign committee affiliated with Scott.

All of the top GOP contenders for president, including Florida's own Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, are scheduled to attend the event.

TWEET OF THE WEEK:

"Landed in Las Vegas. First stop? Head to @GoldSilverPawn to see Rick!" --- Presidential candidate and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) on the campaign trail in Nevada.

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