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Reading the tea leaves: a November special session likely

It’s looking more and more likely that the Legislature’s November organizational session will also morph into a one-day special session to take care of business for the Republicans in charge.

Take, for exemple, Rep. Dean Cannon’s letter to Gov. Charlie Crist today demanding that his agencies put together an accounting of the steps they have taken to implement the federal health care reform act by Nov. 15 – the day before the session. After that date, Cannon says, “any new activities related to PPACA [the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] should be initiated only after notification and consultation with the Legislature.”

Of course, the incoming House speaker can’t just order the governor’s agencies by fiat to stop implementing a federal law. He needs legislation to do that.

House Republican leaders have already said a special session is necessary to approve using federal economic stimulus money for state energy rebate programs already promised by the Crist administration and hinted that the Nov. 16 organizational session, when they swear in the new term of the Legislature, may be the time to do that.

If it looks as if they have a veto-proof majority in place – 80 votes in the House and 27 in the Senate -- Republican leaders may also attempt to override the lame duck governor's vetoes of their favorite bills.

On the list: the property tax bill sought by agriculture groups that extend tax breaks on property when it is sold, as long as it is still being used for agriculture. Another likely override: the $9.7 million dedicated to the University of Florida's Shands Medical Center to help serve the uninsured. Lawmakers perceived the veto as a political slap to outgoing House Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Ocala.