Note: This blog's templates will be updated this afternoon to a responsive design bringing it in line with

At that time, we will also change to the Facebook commenting system. You will need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment.

« Senate panel tweaks controversial lobbyist gift ban | Main | Social justice groups: Don't arm schoolteachers »

Senate advances Flores bill for earlier lawmaking sessions

State senators voiced support Monday for changing the starting date of legislative sessions in even-numbered years from March to January. The bill (SB 1356) is sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, who said it's a good idea to advance the starting date so that Easter and Passover don't fall in the middle of a session, and that building a state budget sooner in the year is better for cities and counties.

Tallahassee is often a lot colder in January than it is in March, a fact not lost on some lawmakers.

"It's  a choice of coming up here and freezing or coming up here and watching the azaleas bloom," said Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, chairman of the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee.

If Flores' bill becomes law, next year's session would begin on Jan. 14, 2014.

Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, cast the lone objection, saying the start of a session so soon after the holidays leaves little time for committee meetings to seriously consider legislation. Nine-week sessions in odd-numbered years would still begin in early March. Flores' bill has no House companion at the moment.

- Steve Bousquet