The end game on the state budget drew closer late Friday, as Senate Budget Chairman J.D. Alexander and House Appropriations Chairwoman Denise Grimsley met after a day of deal-making on the spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The brief meeting between Alexander and Grimsley highlighted the progress made on a variety of issues throughout the day, though some -- such as plan to graft a growth-management overhaul onto a conforming bill --- proved more controversial than others, like an agreement on how to reduce retirement costs for state employees.
A deadlocked committee vote after time expired further muddied the future of an already-tenuous attempt to bring destination casinos to Florida.
The Senate Finance and Tax Subcommittee tied on a 3-3 vote on the measure (SB 2050), a margin that would usually kill the bill. But Subcommittee Chairwoman Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, then announced that the rushed vote had actually happened after the panels scheduled 10:45 a.m. adjournment -- meaning the vote doesnt count.
A House committee on Tuesday approved a sweeping overhaul of the Public Service Commission aimed at preventing questions about ethics and relationships with regulated utilities that rocked the panel beginning in 2009.
The committee bill (ENUS 11-02) would make several changes to the PSC, including tightening rules against ex parte communications, implementing new education requirements for commissioners and -- in the provision that proved most controversial Tuesday allowing the attorney general to appoint the public counsel.