Where is Siri? In a act of retaliation against the stalemate on health insurance reform, the House Democrats demanded that the Republican-controlled chamber read every bill in its entirety for the remaining days of session.
House Democratic Chairman Perry Thurston and Rep. Mia Jones met with the Gov. Rick Scott this morning and warned him that they were prepared to use the parlimentary manueuver -- Florida's equivalent of a filibuster -- to draw attention to the health insurance issues. Scott has endorsed a Senate plan to draw down $5 billion in federal money to expand health insurance to the uninsured poor in Florida but House Republicans have refused that plan and have proposed an alternative that accepts no federal Medicaid money.
Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, said he was angered by the reaction of House leaders, particularly Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity, for calling the move "jihadist." Democrats met in the back of the chamber to discuss the move, calling it "the nuclear option." After debate on a bill relating to nuclear cost recovery, Democrats declared "the nuke is a go." It was 2:35 p.m.
Under House rules, House members are required to remain in the chamber as the bills are read in their entirety. Democrats employed the tactic in 2008 when Marco Rubio was House speaker. Since then, the House has purchased an auto-reader named Mary. The soporific tones of an computerized woman's voice began reading SB 1388, about instructional educational materials.
House Rules Chairman Rob Schenck postponed a series of Democrat-supported bills rather than have them read. The second bill read was SB 1792, a bill to limit the liability of doctors and hospitals in medical malpractice cases, a priority of the Senate President Don Gaetz. The House and Senate had agreed to a deal earlier in the day in which the House pension bill would get a vote on the Senate floor in exchange for the Senate medmal bill coming to a vote in the House. To get through the 15-page bill, Mary the auto-reader was put on fast-play.