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Senate President Gaetz says don't expect a quiet 'second half' from him


Senate President Don Gaetz began the second session of his two-year term by telling his colleagues they should be proud of what they have already accomplished while still striving to fulfill their 2014 agenda.

His speech began with a series of sports references and other metaphors. The Senate has finished the "front nine" and was focused on the clubhouse, but also "5K into a 10K run." It is both "halftime" of the football game and "midterms" for the educators in the room. 

"The Florida Senate is already way ahead," the Niceville Republican said before launching into an overview of what the Legislature accomplished in 2013: ethics reforms and more career and technical education for high school students.

Among the priorities for 2014:

  • -revising the state's sexual predator laws
  • -creating more career and professional opportunitites for Florida's veterans
  • -assisted living facility reforms
  • -expanding the tax credit program to fund vouchers
  • -tying university funding to performance
  • -ethics reforms 
  • -Gov. Rick Scott's proposed tax cuts

Gaetz said one issue that is a priority of House Speaker Will Weatherford may need a new approach. Weatherford wanted new state workers to be enrolled in a 401-K style retirement plan instead of the state pension, but the Senate rejected that proposal.

"Pension reform is one of the few issues that divides this Senate," Gaetz said. "And I don't think there is anything to be gained by taking the Senate down the same road as last year with the same results.  So, I have asked the proponents of pension reform to compromise, to consider options different from last year’s bill."

Gaetz promised not to have a quiet second year in office. Read his full prepared remarks here.