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Garcia, Lopez-Cantera in press release duel

It took until Friday, the last day of the annual lawmaking session, for the two House veterans of the Miami-Dade delegation to have a public spat via press releases.

The skirmish began like this: Rep. Luis Garcia, D-Miami Beach, put out a statement titled, "Florida Representative Frustrated Over Lack of Freedom of Speech on House Floor." He criticized rules his party agreed with to structure debate over the budget.

"Floridians should know that legislation is being cooked in back rooms, then rammed through the process under limited debate, unable to receive a thorough vetting," he said in the statement. "Florida is an autocracy not a democracy at this point."

That was followed up with a release from Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami -- and the majority leader and head of the Miami-Dade delegation.

"It's unfortunate that Representative Garcia has not been paying attention this session," the statement said. "The procedures adopted last night were before the entire body and adopted unanimously without questions, debate, or objections from any member, including Rep. Garcia."

Fired back Garcia, in another statement: "Because I am paying close attention to the proceedings of this session and because my formative years took place under dictatorial regimes, I know what freedom is," he wrote. "Leader Lopez-Cantera might not be able to tell the difference since he was not born in Cuba."

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