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.
Florida would have more state employees, and at least some of them would make more money, under a budget proposal unveiled this week by Gov. Rick Scott.
After earlier committee weeks that were largely devoted to learning the ropes of the legislative process and learning what, precisely, respective committees do, House and Senate members this week started tackling some of the thornier issues they'll face when the annual session begins March 7.
There was uncertainty in the air this week in Washington, but things were settling down a bit in Florida.
With the transition between President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump in full swing, and Democratic members of Congress staying away from Trump's inauguration by the dozen, the nation's capital was in a state of flux.
On Monday night in Tampa, the Clemson Tigers dethroned the Alabama Crimson Tide in college football's national championship game. The next few days in Tallahassee proved that there's still a long way to go before we know who will come out on top in a different kind of season: the 2017 legislative session.
But the jockeying for position, which had died down a little bit over the holidays, returned to the spotlight.
House members are expected to consider how they would cut the state budget by anywhere from $1.1 billion to $2.2 billion as part of an exercise toward making the next spending plan balanced.
Plans for the exercises were unveiled Tuesday by House Appropriations Chairman Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, as he tried to stress the chamber's message that the state budget for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1, will be incredibly tight.
"Our spending pattern is unsustainable, and this is the time to address it," Trujillo said.