THE FLORIDA SENATE
SENATOR ANDY GARDINER
Andy Gardiner, President
Special Session Schedule
May 22, 2015
On Monday, June 1, the Senate will convene at 1:00 p.m. to begin Special Session 2015-A. A draft of the weekly schedule for week one of the three week Special Session is attached.
Today Chair Lee filed budget bills to adhere to items A-M of Section 2 in the Joint Proclamation, which is also attached for your reference. A summary of these bills is attached, along with a chart outlining how the Regular Session bills have been numbered for the Special Session.
The purpose of our sittings in week one is to procedurally place our Chamber in the position we left our budget work at the end of the Regular Session and to swiftly enter the conference process during which all outstanding issues will have the opportunity for a thorough and transparent vetting. Therefore, the Senate will consider all bills related to the 2015-16 budget on Monday, June 1.
Every budget bill has already been heard in numerous Senate committees, as well as on the Floor during the 2015 Regular Session. Spending floor time debating new amendments, which will be summarily dismissed by the House as the bills are placed into the conference posture, is procedurally and practically unnecessary.
Notwithstanding my own view, during our Monday sitting any Senator may exercise his or her individual authority under our Rules to request any or all of the budget bills be referred to a committee. The attached schedule includes committee time to address any such request, provided you inform the full Senate of your intentions during our Monday sitting.
Yesterday CMS confirmed its intent to reduce total LIP funding to $1 billion for the 2015-16 fiscal year and $600 million in future years. This authorization, when compared to the current fiscal year, equates to a loss of at least $705 million in federal funds in the 2015-16 fiscal year, with an additional $482 million at risk, pending policy decisions made by the legislature regarding hospital rates, for a total loss of $1.2 billion. Looking ahead to fiscal year 2016-17, this loss could increase to $1.4 billion. Consequently, yesterday’s announcement will have a ripple effect throughout our entire budget, providing a renewed and elevated importance to the discussion of a Florida solution to coverage for the uninsured as we head into Special Session.
As you are aware, the House agreed to include legislation similar to SB 7044, Health Insurance Affordability Exchange, in the Joint Proclamation. To ensure the House has ample time to consider this legislation, we will again send a Senate plan for coverage expansion to the House during the first week of the Special Session.
Chair Bean intends to file this legislation next week, which will provide you with time to review the bill again and discuss it with your constituents before you return to Tallahassee. Chair Bean’s legislation will be heard in our Committee on Health Policy on June 1 and in our Committee on Appropriations on June 2. The Senate will then convene on Wednesday, June 3, at 10:00 a.m. to again take up our plan for coverage expansion on the Senate floor and send it to the House.
During weeks two and three, committees will meet, if necessary, to consider any other bills consistent with the criteria outlined in the joint proclamation. We will plan a sitting every Monday and Friday afternoon, as well as at least one other time during each week. The budget conference will likely begin towards the end of week one, so you should plan on staying in Tallahassee the weekend of June 5-7.
I hope this brief outline is helpful in your planning. Should you have any foreseeable conflicts with the schedule outlined above, please inform my office as soon as possible.