Former senator and long-time lobbyist Ken Plante, who is hospitalized and suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, was given a lengthy tribute in the Florida Senate on its opening day. The Senate officially named the Senate President's conference room after Plante.
Plante was elected to the Senate as a Republican from Winter Park and served from 1967 to 1978. He served in an era when there were few Republicans and many were considered moderates and later became a lobbyist, working to establish a lobbyist association and increasing the code of conduct among that profession.
"Ken Plante was one of the outstanding senators of his time and of this whole generation,'' said Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Surfside. "I wish him well. I’m delighted we’ve made the decision to name the conference room. I miss you Ken.''
"It's very difficult for a good senator to make a transition to be a good lobbyist,'' said Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg, but noted that Plante had made the best transition "with a high degree of integrity and a commitment to the good of the process."
Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith said that it was Plante who provided former Gov. Jeb Bush the insight he needed to deal with an unfamiliar legislature.
Sen. Arthenia Joyner recalled how Plante told her as a freshman that being a legislator is a hard job "but always keep your word."
Former Senate President Jim Scott, R-Fort Lauderdale, said "he said you're elected as a Republican or a Democrat but you're a senator for everybody."
Here's Lucy Morgan's column on Plante.