Senators said good-bye to Sen. Steve Geller Wednesday, as they paid their respects to their departing Democratic leader with a few compliments -- and a bit of ribbing.
As they said farewell, Geller's fellow senators joked that Geller, of Cooper City is a loyal friend known for his dedication, gaming law know-how and his enjoyment of "holding court."
"If you've never done a fundraising call with Sen. Geller it's actually pretty interesting," joked Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, recalling Geller's help during his campaign. "You call up someone, 'Hello this is Sen. Geller. Can I please speak to Howard? Howard, hey, there's a young man running for office here, Aronberg. He's a good guy. He needs your help. But enough about him..."
But it wasn't all jokes. Senators also praised Geller for his hard work, knowledge and the legislation he had sponsored on behalf of children. Geller passed a bill as a freshman state representative to regulate amusement ride safety, and this year, in the Senate, he is sponsoring a bill to mandate health insurance coverage for autism treatment -- which was being debated on the House floor while Geller said his good-byes.
"I think it's fitting that the first bill the you filed in 1988 was about helping children," Senate President Ken Pruitt said. "And here we are 20 years later, and the final bill that you filed in your last session was about helping children. I think it's a perfect way to summarize your service."
Geller came to Tallahassee as a state representative in 1988. He plans to run for the Broward County Commission when his term ends this year.
"Giving this speech if probably the hardest things I've ever had to do," Geller said. "One of the reasons it's one of the hardest things I've ever had to do is because I'm not ready to go yet."