The Florida House on Wednesday narrowly approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit Supreme Court justices and appeals-court judges to two consecutive terms in office, sending a major priority of Speaker Richard Corcoran to an uncertain fate in the Senate.
One-third of the way through this year's legislative session --- assuming that it wraps up on time --- some of the debates that will define the next six weeks are beginning to take shape.
Like a movie sequel of questionable entertainment value that everyone feels compelled to go see regardless, the 2017 legislative session rolled into Tallahassee this week, mixing the usual pomp and circumstance with interparty acrimony.
A wide-ranging bill that would rein in local governments' ability to increase taxes narrowly passed the House Ways & Means Committee on Wednesday.
A strange legislative off-season came to a close this week, as Gov. Rick Scott continued turning up the heat on fellow Republicans while the political jockeying to succeed him started fitfully moving out of the abstract.
It's time for denizens of Tallahassee to get their last week of rest and recreation --- or at least sanity --- before the whirlwind of activity begins. In the words of a House video from this week: "Session Is Coming."
Legislation that would limit Florida appellate judges to two consecutive terms in office was sent to the House floor Tuesday, as prominent senators have begun voicing concerns about the proposal.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 11-8 on a nearly party-line vote to approve the proposed constitutional amendment (HJR 1), which would need the approval of three-fifths majorities in the House, Senate and in a referendum to take effect. Two Republicans joined all the committee Democrats in opposing the proposal.
There was already plenty of anti-judiciary invective being hurled around the Legislature in the run-up to the 2017 legislative session, and this week may have intensified the tension.
In legal battle after legal battle, the state or the Legislature suffered a loss. A special master appointed to referee the latest battle in the “water war” between Florida and Georgia essentially said Florida's case was all wet. State laws on abortion and guns were blocked by the courts.
At another time, it might not be unusual for the governor to accuse the House speaker of being more concerned about politics than jobs. It would be notable, though not altogether shocking, for the speaker to respond like Clint Eastwood to talk of the Senate suing the House.
Like any capital city, Tallahassee is often dominated by talk --- from rumors about running for office, to discussion of policy proposals, to analysis of how the latter might influence the former. The size of Tallahassee just amplifies the chatter.
"This town's so small a whisper can be heard a mile away. And people here will gossip when there's nothing else to say," Reba McEntire sang in "Rumor Has It," and it's as fitting a description of Florida's political players as of a troubled relationship.