You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

Florida Senate budget chief Latvala raps House on litany of issues


Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala said Monday he was glad to have made it “a third of the way” through the annual legislative session.

“Only 14 more weeks to go,” Latvala, R-Clearwater, told the Capital Tiger Bay Club during a lunchtime appearance a few blocks from the Capitol.

RELATED: Complete Florida Legislature coverage

Presumably he was joking, as lawmakers are more than two-thirds of the way through the 60-day session, with the scheduled end on May 5. But uncertainty surrounds a timely ending — and the possibility of a special session — because the House and Senate remain far apart on their budget bills.

Latvala said lawmakers could push final budget negotiations right up until July 1, when the new budget year begins. If it goes beyond that, Latvala said, continued spending would be in the hands of Gov. Rick Scott, who has clashed with House leaders over deep cuts in economic-development and tourism programs.

“I know there is no way the House of Representatives will ever allow that to happen,” Latvala said. “So I know we will be done by July 1.”

Latvala’s prediction on the budget negotiations was part of his unvarnished commentary on the state of Tallahassee as seen through the eyes of a powerful, veteran lawmaker.

Latvala, who was edged out for the Senate presidency by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, after more than three years of maneuvering, said he came into the 2017 session with “high hopes” but is clearly disappointed with House leaders.

He ticked off a litany of issues including higher-education reforms, Everglades restoration, economic development, health care coverage and water policy as issues he says the state should be addressing.

“Instead unfortunately, we got involved in all-out assault on Florida’s economic-development apparatus,” Latvala said, referring to the House’s plan to abolish the economic-development agency Enterprise Florida and to sharply cut funding for tourism-marketer Visit Florida.

Latvala also criticized House efforts to limit “home rule” by city and governments, including legislation to pre-empt the ability of the local governments to regulate vacation homes.

“We’ve got an unprecedented assault on home rule, absolutely unprecedented,” Latvala said. “They (House members) think they know more than anybody else elected by the same people on the same ballot.”

Latvala decried the House mantra of wanting to eliminate a system that picks “winners and losers.”

He cited legislation that could help utilities, such as Florida Power & Light, invest in natural-gas reserves and recoup the money from consumers. And he said eliminating Florida’s “no fault” auto accident system would likely favor trial lawyers at the expense of insurance companies and consumers.

“We’re picking a winner and a loser every single day up there even though we say we’re not doing it,” Latvala said. “It’s somewhat discouraging.”

Latvala has been involved in some of the major bills in the session, saying Negron asked him to help pass a major Everglades restoration bill (SB 10) off the Senate floor.

It apparently involved what Tallahassee insiders refer to as “Latvala magic.”

“Latvala magic might involve a red face, might involve something getting thrown down on the desk or a hand down on the desk, something like that,” he said. “But it is almost unfailingly successful.”

Facing term limits next year, Latvala said he does not believe his political career is “finished,” with many speculating that he could run for governor or another political office.

“I think if this session shows me anything, it shows me that we still need the kind of approach that I bring up here to problem solving and kind of the big picture approach, the experience I have in all facets of government,” he said. “I’m not ready to hang it up. But I’m not really ready to say what I’m doing either.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Why is Boynton Beach having its Fourth of July celebration on July 1?
Why is Boynton Beach having its Fourth of July celebration on July 1?

070416 PBDN Meghan McCarthy Fireworks explode over the Intracoastal Waterway during Fourth On Flagler Monday July 4, 2016. Last year, Boynton Beach held its Fourth of July celebration and fireworks event on July 4. It was a Monday. And it was a late night. The next day, parents asked the city if they’d move future July 4th events...
Death in the woods: Boys, guns — and a box of dynamite
Death in the woods: Boys, guns — and a box of dynamite

In a back row of Woodlawn Cemetery, near a fence and railroad track, two headstones stand. They are notable for the brief lifetimes associated with the names. And the common year of death: 1923. But there are three graves. Whether because they couldn’t afford it, or for some other reason, the family of Robert H. Lincoln Jr., 14, did not...
Could Smashing Pumpkins be reuniting for tour?
Could Smashing Pumpkins be reuniting for tour?

Could the original members of Smashing Pumpkins be making plans to reunite? Some fans believe comments made by the band’s original drummer are signaling that the group is getting back together. Smashing Pumpkins’ original drummer, Jimmy Chamberlin, said during an interview with WGN Radio that he’s going to record with “people...
July 4th 2017: Perfect spots for your picnic
July 4th 2017: Perfect spots for your picnic

At lunch on a recent workday, I had the need to nosh outside in the fresh air. With my delicious salad from Aioli in hand, I headed out to one of my favorite picnic spots in West Palm (pictured above). Can you guess the location? Here’s a hint: The backdrop of the Intracoastal makes for a perfect lunch companion. Give up? It’s...
Opioid crisis: Film art festival aims to raise awareness, offer hope
Opioid crisis: Film art festival aims to raise awareness, offer hope

Manny Mendez was in prison when he honed his drawing and painting skills. “It was one of the only ways I could find peace in a place that didn’t allow it,” said Mendez, who has spent 11 years in Florida jails since age 17 for crimes related to his addiction to crack cocaine. “It’s funny because I looked to art to quiet...
More Stories