Kristina (danceprincess20) wrote in ontd_political,
Kristina
danceprincess20
ontd_political

FL: Abortion-bill strategy, election-year politics prompt massive early influx of bills to Crist

Florida House and Senate leaders have swamped Gov. Charlie Crist's office with 139 bills in the past week, the latest tactic in an ongoing election-year battle between Crist and a legislature dominated by the Republican Party he recently spurned.

"We have received quite a number of bills," Crist spokesman Sterling Ivey said. "We're moving through them deliberately and as quickly as we can."

Both chambers send their own bills to Crist for approval during a two-month stretch in the summer following their annual legislative spring session.

But they normally send the bills in small waves. At this time last year, Crist had received 91 bills, compared to more than 200 that he has received in the past three weeks, including more than 70 Monday.

About 80 percent of the last week's deluge has been from the House, where Republican leaders are clearing their deck before they send Crist just one bill: a controversial measure to force women to get an ultrasound and at least hear a medical professional describing what it shows before receiving an abortion.

Two sources in the House said the plan was to spotlight the bill (HB 1143) and give anti-abortion activists time to mount a campaign to persuade Crist to sign it.

Crist has not decided what to do. He recently told The Palm Beach Post that he feared the measure was intended to intimidate women to not have an abortion. Crist describes himself as pro-life, but says he'd rather "change hearts than laws."

Meanwhile, Senate leaders are also putting a rush order on their bills. But they're sending their top priorities now, including a package of tax cuts and incentives for businesses aimed at reversing the state's spiraling unemployment rate (SB 1752) and a contentious insurance measure that would let property insurers raise rates but also offer consumer protections (SB 2044).

Crist is expected to sign the jobs bill, but has not said what he'll do about the insurance bill. He has until June 1 to decide.

A high-ranking Senate official told The Post that leaders fear that waiting to send the bills could jeopardize them in this year of increasingly hostile election politics.

Several House and Senate lawmakers have accused Crist of trying to help his U.S. Senate campaign by urging them back into a special session to put a question on the ballot asking voters whether they want a constitutional ban on offshore drilling in the wake of the BP oil rig explosion.

Crist has already taken action on several bills. On Saturday, he vetoed two bills: one to expand tax breaks on agricultural land (HB 981) that he said would give an unintended benefit to developers and another to exempt farms from local environmental laws (HB 7103) because he objected to taking authority away from local governments.

He also signed two: one (HB 1581) that will allow Florida Atlantic University to open the state's sixth medical school and another that puts additional restrictions on horse meat consumption (HB 765).

While most of Crist's legislative battles have been with the House, which sent Crist the massive $70.4 billion budget ahead of the normal schedule, Senate President Jeff Atwater has already lost one of his top priorities to Crist's veto pen.

That veto of a divisive bill to end teacher tenure (SB 6) helped transform Crist's struggling Republican primary campaign into an independent bid that is leading in several recent general election polls.

Crist has denied the veto was a political calculation.

But it has given him a boost with the state's powerful teachers union, which could translate into an endorsement from their umbrella group, the AFL-CIO, this weekend in Jacksonville. The group has already endorsed U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami in the Senate Democratic primary.

"I'm not sure what's going to happen," AFL-CIO President Mike Williams said. "It's going to be interesting."

Source
Tags: charlie crist, florida, republicans
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