Five things to look for in Friday's legislative session
The end is near. Florida's 2013 legislative session ends Friday, and here are five things to watch:
* The House returns to square one to vote on an elections bill, just as it did on the session's first day. The bill (HB 7013) expands early voting sites and mandates eight days of early voting, and allows counties to expand early voting to as much as 14 days and 12 hours each day.
* The House will decide whether to follow the Senate's lead and pass a bill that creates a mechanism for tax-supported improvements to Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins. The bill has been one of th emost heavily-lobbied of the 2013 session.
* The Senate, obviously sending signals to Gov. Rick Scott, is stringing out confirmations of more than 200 Scott appointees to boards, commissions and agencies. Most will be confirmed before the session ends, but one who won't be is Dr. John Armstrong, the state health director and surgeon general -- a minor embarrassment that will force Scott to reappoint him. "There were some issues with some members of the Legislature and the way he interacted with them," said Senate Ethics & Elections Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater. "It's a little behavior management."
* The session is expected to end as it began, with the Senate and House far apart, unwilling and unable to find common ground on how to expand the Medicaid program to more uninsured Floridians.
* The session will likely conclude with the traditional dropping of handkerchiefs by the sergeants-at-arms of both chambers, to be followed by self-congratulatory speeches by key lawmakers in the Capitol's fourth-floor rotunda.
Steve Bousquet, Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau