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Miami-Dade lawmakers tried to stay united

Lawmakers in a Miami-Dade delegation full of political rookies vowed unity during this year’s legislative session. And they kept their promise, for the most part, in a year when distinct personalities emerged in the crop of new faces.

Members of the delegation, long known for its fractiousness, were still involved in some public skirmishes.

But state representatives and senators stood together on several issues of key importance to the county. They successfully lobbied Gov. Rick Scott to release some $35 million in state money for Jackson Memorial Hospital and made sure the state budget included more than $55 million in funding to dredge the Port of Miami.

The delegation had smaller budget victories, too, including setting aside dollars for social services such as the Little Havana Activities and Nutrition Center and shrinking initially proposed cuts to programs such as the New World School of the Arts and the University of Miami Center for Autism and Related Disabilities.

Those wins came in part because first-year lawmakers, despite their inexperience, tried to get their feet wet in the complicated budget process.

In the past, Miami-Dade freshmen had been notoriously divided over one of the first decisions they have to make after being elected: which colleague to back as future House Speaker.

Full story here.