The presiding officers’ highlighted their priorities for 2013 in their ceremonial speeches during the Organizational Session. President Gaetz and Speaker Weatherford pledged to work together, and across the aisle, on a joint agenda benefiting Florida. Some the highlighted issues include:
- Job Growth – Improving Florida’s job market is the top priority. In the Senate, Budget Subcommittee on General Government Appropriations Chair Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) will work to identify laws, rules, regulations or policies that are impediments to business and suggest modifications or repeals. The goal is to encourage businesses to resume hiring and consider expanding or relocating to Florida.
- Education Reform – Prioritizing math, science and engineering degrees on college campuses, making higher education more affordable, and focusing on fields that provide graduates with the best opportunity for employment will be a few of the areas the Legislature will consider during the upcoming session. Speaker Weatherford will continue to emphasize options for on-line education.
- Tougher Ethical Standards – Since the election, both President Gaetz and Speaker Weatherford have publicly proposed raising the standard of ethical conduct for state and local officials. Potential changes include toughening conflict-of-interest rules, increasing civil penalties for ethics law violations and strengthening the investigative authority of the Florida Commission on Ethics. Recently released recommendations from the Commission on Ethics set the stage for these discussions.
- Elections Review – The national media provided ample exposure of problems Floridians experienced during the recent elections. Among the glitches were long lines, broken tabulating machines, incorrect ballots and misplaced ballots. Governor Scott requested the Department of State conduct an extensive review of the 2012 elections and submit recommendations for improvement. In addition to elections reform, expect to see proposals to change future candidate fundraising practices.