The Florida House quit early. Senate Democrats sued. The state still has no budget, and no one has figured out a compromise on how to pay for healthcare.
But last week’s legislative meltdown in Tallahassee, dramatic and dysfunctional as it was, doesn’t appear to threaten the political future of Republicans who control both chambers of state government — or of anyone else in their party running for office in 2016.
Most GOP state lawmakers remain in safe, conservative-leaning districts. Democrats have only a thin bench to challenge the ones who don’t. And there’s little indication that many Floridians are aware that their state Legislature, an institution followed far less closely than Congress, is gridlocked.
“I always use my parents, who live in Orlando, as a measure — and it’s fair to say the average Floridian isn’t paying a lot of attention compared to the rest of us living in the bubble of Tallahassee,” said David Hart, executive president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
A rundown of what happened: The House adjourned three days early, which was historically unprecedented, to protest a budget impasse and reject Senate demands to discuss Medicaid expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act. The Senate, united in rare bipartisan accord,stayed in town, passing bills to the empty chamber across the hall and accusing the House of violating the state constitution with its early exit on Tuesday.
Senate Democrats sued the House, asking the court Thursday to bring representatives back to finish their work. On Friday, the Florida Supreme Court ruled the House had violated the state constitution — but, with the midnight deadline of the regular session approaching, it was too late to call anyone back to Tallahassee.
Will any of it matter?
“I think there will be very little political fallout,” said Steve Vancore, a Democratic political consultant and pollster.