|The 2018 Legislative Session ended at 4:16pm on Sunday, March 11th. Session was extended to allow for the required 72-hour review period of the budget. The budget conference committee did not conclude its work until the previous Thursday.
This session, 3,250 bills were filed and 200 bills passed both chambers. In contrast, 3,132 bills were filed last year and 249 passed. There has been a trend in the last few years for fewer bills to be passed by the Legislature. One caveat regarding why the number of bills filed increased significantly – it was not until 2017 when House members were required to file appropriations requests as bills. Of the total bills filed this year, 1,314 were budget requests.
As of March 26th, Governor Rick Scott has signed 155 bills into law. The appropriations bill was presented to him on March 14th, and he signed it two days later on March 16th, vetoing $64 million of the $88.727 billion budget, which is the largest budget in history.
As a result of the Parkland school shooting, the Session was upended during the last couple of weeks as the leadership searched for ways to respond to the tragic circumstances. Legislators wanted to demonstrate that they were moving forward with solutions, partially a result of the pressure applied by the students and parents of the school. Legislation addressing school safety, mental health and firearms’ restrictions was quickly crafted and the budget was realigned to meet those priorities. A total of $400 million was allocated for school safety and mental health programs.
The distribution for the FY 2018-19 state budget before the Governor’s vetoes is as follows:
Some of the highlights include: