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House carefully planned its 'surprise' adjournment but not all members got memo

The decision by the Florida House to adjourn early was known among a small handful of members of the lobbying corps, who positioned themselves in the chamber for the historic announcement.

It was known among the House's leadership, which had the House Majority Office prepare a four-page document answering what they expected would be commonly asked questions about the House's position on the budget impasse and Medicaid.

But the decision took some members of the majority party by surprise.

"I don't know what's going on," Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, said on her cell phone as House members scattered.

Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota, a retired sheriff's deputy, represents a moderate Republican district and said be believed a majority of his constituents favored the Senate's approach, to seek federal funds and to impose requirements on low-income people for an expansion of Medicaid.

"I along with most of the other members was absolutely surprised," Pilon said. "We were given no notice ahead of time, no indication that it was coming....I was very surprised and very disappointed that it was handled that way.''

Another Republican House member from a swing district, Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa, said the first he knew about the premature sine die was when Crisafulli told the entire chamber at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday.

"It was dramatic in the way that it occurred," Harrison said. "But that's up to leadership. It wasn't mine to make."
Harrison, who represents a district that includes the University of South Florida and Moffitt Cancer Center, said he's open to the concept of expanded Medicaid coverage, including the Senate model. 
"We could use a cooling off period," Harrison said. "This will give us a chance to go home and hear from our constituents."
He said he'll schedule public meetings to discuss the issue.

The Senate was also kept in the dark. 

Two hours before the House shut down, Senate President Andy Gardiner asked House Speaker Steve Crisafulli if he could dispatch a team of senators to begin discussions on "how we land this plane," Gardiner told reporters later Tuesday.

The next thing he knew, the House closed its doors.

Here's the Q and A prepared by Republican Leader Dana Young's office and distributed by email:  Download Q&A on Sine Die.docx (1)

Staff writers Michael Van Sickler and Steve Bousquet contributed to this report.