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Senators' not-so-warm 'welcome' for Rep. Chris Latvala


Clearwater Republican Rep. Chris Latvala learned a valuable lesson Monday: The Florida Senate sometimes plays dirty.

“I did learn another valuable lesson, and that was not to tell my father when I’m going to present,” said the first-term member of the House and son of Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, while presenting to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee on Monday.

Why? It turns out Latvala the Elder and his Senate pals like to play practical jokes.

Rep. Latvala was presenting legislation (SB 386) to expunge juvenile criminal records sooner, allowing children who make mistakes and face charges for minor crimes to move on sooner. Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, the bill’s sponsor in the Senate had not yet arrived in Tallahassee for the committee hearing and asked Latvala, the House sponsor to present it.

The committee members, led by chairman Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, gave Latvala a hard time, asking him questions about pranks he did as a kid — like “rolling” or “TPing” a house, throwing rolls of toilet paper over trees in the yard.

Then, each of the five committee members voted down the bill.

“I’d like for you to take a seat over there and think about how you’re going to tell Sen. Detert that you just lost her bill,” Evers told Latvala, directing him to sit in the front row of the committee room in the Capitol basement.

Nearly an hour later, Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, asked that the bill be voted on by committee members again.

“I’d like to tell you one thing before I answer,” Evers said. “Your dad called me and asked me to really welcome you to the Senate.”

The legislation passed the committee — unanimously.