The scene: A committee room late at night on day 5 (Saturday) of the special session on insurance.
The players: South Miami Rep. Julio Robaina and Miami Rep. David Rivera, both Republicans.
The fact they agree on most: They don’t like each other very much.
Robaina is upset. For the second year in a row, he’s watching his push to require financial disclosures for national parent companies of Florida subsidiaries (aka “pup companies”) die.
''I'm proud of the House's work on this bill, but it's bad public policy'' says Robaina. He points out that Gov. Charlie Crist made this a campaign issue. Says Rep. Don Brown, a DeFuniak Springs Republican – one of only two members to vote against the bill Monday -- ``The governor doesn't vote on this conference.''
To prevent a public blowup, about a dozen lawmakers huddle in a corner where Robaina speaks in Spanish and English to Rivera. “David, do you support the governor?” Robaina asks according to a number of lawmakers. “Do you support the people of Florida?”
Rivera, initially refusing to look at Robaina, finally stares at him and lets it fly: “Kiss my a**, Julio,” a number of lawmakers say. Some say Robaina responded in turn. Smiling when asked about the incident later, neither would confirm nor deny what was said.
“Usually, when you say something like that, someone says it right back,” Rivera later said, explaining he was annoyed that Robaina publicly questioned the agreement struck with the Senate by Rep. Ray Sansom, R-Destin, who’s scheduled to be House Speaker after Speaker Marco Rubio of Miami.
“I acknowledge I firmly admonished him for publicly disagreeing with Chairman Sansom,” Rivera said.
Said Robaina: “We're going to leave it at this: It's called Miami guys having a spat. There is no issue. We've been battling for a long time. But there is no war. There will be a battle over the pup companies. Make no mistake about that. I’m ready to file a bill as soon as I can.”