In Tallahassee Monday, Florida lawmakers began a scheduled five-day special session to deal with reforming the Medicaid system and implementing voter approved slot machines in Broward County, but a dozen other issues may cloud what lawmakers get done.
The gavel opened the special session for just Medicaid reform and slot machines, but within minutes lawmakers added:
1. Property tax relief for hurricane victims.
2. A bill to make it harder to sue employers who don't pay minimum wage.
3. A NASCAR license plate, with the money funding a museum.
4. More judges for southwest Florida.
5. Compensation for Wilton Dedge, the Brevard County man who spent 22 years in prison for a rape DNA later proved he did not commit.
Gov. Jeb Bush is sympathetic to Dedge’s circumstances.
"I was disappointed it couldn't be done during the regular session, but Mr. Dedge is deserving of financial support from the state based on the fact that he was innocent," he says.
One of the most controversial issues has been lobbyist regulation being pushed by the Senate president, but House Speaker Allan Bense of Panama City dropped a bombshell. He's got a bill that prohibits lawmakers from taking any freebies.
"Members of the House will receive no gifts, period; no dinners, no trinkets, no nothing."
The conventional wisdom for special sessions is that they don't get called until you know how they're going to turn out, but for this week's special session everything is still up in the air.
The legislative deadline is Friday. In the end lawmakers will have to compromise on almost everything or get nothing done at all.