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Senate joins House in push for Supreme Court overhaul

The House of Representatives has stood on its own in its push to add three justices to the Florida Supreme Court and create two divisions, one for criminal cases and another for civil -- until now. Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami on Thursday filed an amendment that adds the proposal to SB 1664, a bill sponsored by Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, that would require Senate confirmation of justices. 

The House is expected to vote Friday on its Supreme Court remake bill.

It's received harsh criticism from former Supreme Court justices and attorneys, who joined together with former governor and U.S. Bob Graham today to slam the changes.

House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, who has made the redo of the court a top priority, said that resistance is to be expected.

"People don't like changes to the status quo. Teachers don't like education reform. Judges don't like judicial reform," he said Thursday after the House session ended. Cannon has said his intent is to make the court more efficient. But critics charge that it's political payback because the court struck from the November 2010 ballot three proposed Constitutional amendments sought by Republican lawmakers.

"Payback would have been waiting until the 11th hour in conference and cutting judicial branch funding. That would have been retributive," he said. "We haven't done that."

Instead, he noted, the proposal guarantees stable funding for the courts by providing an allocating 2.25 percent of general revenue to the courts this year, which is more than the judicial system typically gets.

The bill will heard Friday in the Senate Rules committee, and then go to the Senate floor.

Bogdanoff said the amendment was not her idea. As for questions about whether the proposal would get a thorough vetting this late in the session, Bogdanoff said those concerned about the bill have been meeting with Senators for weeks.