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2011 legislative session forced into overtime

The Legislature couldn't finish its work on time. 

After a boisterous night in which the Senate killed two House bills and thwarted a vote on a third, the 2011 legislative session went off track, forcing an extension into early Saturday morning. The Senate approved the budget, 31-8, but the House could not act before a midnight deadline.

A lectern was set up in the Capitol rotunda for Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders to celebrate the session, and rope stanchions were positioned to corral an expected crowd for the traditional Sine Die ceremony. But it never materialized. 

"The Senate's in recess," Senate President Mike Haridopolos announced at 11:37 p.m. Shortly afterward, the Senate passed a resolution extending the session until 6 p.m. Saturday dealing only with the budget and conference committee reports. The House passed the same extension at 11:52 p.m.

At the time, the House was holding a must-pass tax-cut bill that includes the three-day sales tax holiday.

Trouble began when the Senate voted 32-6 to kill a House bill (HB 5005) deregulating interior designers, which upset some House members. Then senators killed a bill dealing with mold remediation, and Haridopolos blocked a Senate vote on a bill to abolish the Correctional Medical Authority when it appeared Sen. Mike Fasano had the votes to kill that bill, too (it later passed). Then House members refused to support a health care bill (HB 119) that Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, said was loaded with Senate special interest amendments and language that could undermine the just-passed "pill mill" legislation.

-- Steve Bousquet

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