For Sen. Nancy Detert and the backers of a bill extending foster care from age 18 to 21, Wednesday’s House session was a nail biter.
Named the Nancy C. Detert Common Sense and Compassion Independent Living Act, House Bill 1036, which is co-sponsored by the entire Senate, was temporarily postponed Wednesday morning as Democrats, protesting inaction on health insurance reform, demanded that all bills be read in their entirety. The House is using a robotic auto reader to speed-read bills.
“I was really on pins and needles,” said Christina Spudeas, executive director of Florida’s Children First. “I didn’t know if it would really come back. I got really scared."
Detert said she was “nervous” because under House rules, “if they didn’t read the bill today and pass it out, it wouldn’t pass. And it’s such a long bill, they weren’t getting to it.”
The Venice Republican said she met with House Speaker Will Weatherford and his chief of staff Kathy Mears to discuss the bill Wednesday morning and was told that Weatherford would “see that it gets done even if they have to stay here till midnight. He said we don’t let politics get in the way of children. And he kept his word.
After the auto-reader went through the 54-page bill (which took at least 40 minutes) the measure passed 116-1 (Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, voted against it).
“We didn’t want to have to lose it because of process,” said Detert, who stood in the back of the House to watch the bill pass. “That would have been a tragedy.”