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Florida Legislative Session set to begin

This week kicks off the annual 60-day sprint known as the Florida legislative session. The first week is highlighted by Governor Charlie Crist's annual "State of the State" address Tuesday, March 2nd.

The estimated hole in this year's budget is said to be between $900 million and $2.6 billion, and with no new sources of revenue, some programs are definitely at risk. The legislature will take a magnifying glass to the budget over the next few weeks. We can expect no new taxes, but higher fees from the Republican-led legislature. High on the legislature's agenda this week are a two-year suspension of a hike in unemployment compensation tax, reforms to the Public Service Commission.

State economists will draw up new estimates of the statewide property tax roll that will be used to help set the required local effort millage rate school districts must charge in order to receive school funding from the state.

Monday is the last round of fundraisers for most of the legislature as they are prohibited from raising funds during the session, unless they're running for federal office. Nearly two dozen fundraisers are on the calendar for Monday as lawmakers and candidates try to beat the clock by getting as much money as they can in the bank before the 60-day moratorium begins.

Committee meetings have been ongoing for several months and will continue to ramp up prior to the last three weeks of session when lawmakers will spend most of their time on the floor of their respective chambers.

For more information on the Florida legislature, contact LSCU Vice President, Legislative Affairs Mark Landreth.