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Florida State Legislature

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The Florida State Legislature is the state legislature of Florida. The Florida Constitution mandates a bicameral state legislature with an upper house, the Florida State Senate, and a lower house, the Florida House of Representatives. Due to term limits, House members may be elected for up to four terms (eight years), while State Senators can be elected for up to two terms (eight years).

The two houses convene within the Florida State Capitol complex in Tallahassee.

The Florida Legislature is a part-time body, meeting only 60 day regular sessions annually with the possibility of special sessions as needed. Outside of these regular sessions, the members of both houses participate in hearings, town hall meetings and legislative discussions throughout the year.

In 2010, the Legislature was in session from March 2nd to April 30th.[1]

Sessions

Article III of the Florida Constitution establishes when the Legislature is to be in session. Section 3 of Article III states that the regular session of the Legislature is to convene on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March of each year. Regular sessions of the Legislature are not to exceed sixty days, unless extended by a three-fifths vote of each house.

Section 3 also allows for the convening of special sessions, either by the proclamation of the Governor of Florida or as otherwise provided by law.

2011

See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Legislature will be in session from March 8 through May 6.

2010

See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Legislature was in session from March 2nd to April 30th.

Role in the Legislature

Main article: Florida state budget

By the end of February each year, the Legislature of Florida receives an annual budget proposal from the Governor. The annual budget proposal is for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1st. The Legislature then revises this budget over the course of the next couple of months. In April or May, the Legislature votes on a budget. For a budget to pass, a majority of legislatures must vote in support of it [2]

Recently, Florida's Legislature has passed unbalanced budgets. As a result of this, Florida's Director of the Office of Policy and Budget, Jerry L. McDaniel, had to send out a memorandum on October 12, 2009 to the executives of state agencies, advising them of an anticipated $2.6 billion shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year 2010 budget. [3]

Legislators

Salaries

See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2010, members of the Florida legislature are paid $29,697 per year. Legislators are allowed $133 per day for per diem, tied to the federal rate. Travel vouchers are required.[4]

The $29,697 that Florida legislators are paid as of 2010 is a decrease from the $39,996 that they were paid during legislative sessions in 2007. Per diem has increased from $126 per day in 2007 to $133 per day in 2010. The same per diem rules apply in 2010 as 2007 -- per diem tied to days in session and travel vouchers are required.[5]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Florida legislators assume office two weeks following their election.

Senate

The Florida Senate is the upper house of the Florida State Legislature. There are 40 members in the senate. Generally, Senators in odd-numbered districts are elected in years divisible by four (in tandem with U.S. Presidential elections), and Senators in even-numbered districts are elected alongside elections for Florida's statewide offices. In years ending in the digit 2, all Senators are up for re-election. Thus, odd-number district Senators were elected to two-year terms in 2002, and even-number district Senators will be elected to two-year terms in 2012. Each senator represents an average district of 399,559 people.[6]

Florida Senate districts are both organized by population over geographic areas. Although there are exactly three times as many members of the House (120) as in the Senate (40), the Senate districts do not consist of three Representative districts; the boundaries are independent.


Party As of April 2014
     Democratic Party 14
     Republican Party 26
Total 40


House of Representatives

The Florida House of Representatives is the lower house of the Florida State Legislature. It is composed of 120 members, each representing a district. Each representative represents an average district of 133,186 people.[7]

Representatives are elected to two-year terms during even-numbered years. A representative must be at least 21 years of age, a resident of the district in which he or she will serve, and a resident of Florida for at least two years before being qualified to run for election. Once elected, representatives are limited to four terms.

The entire Florida Legislature meets every year in a session beginning on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March and lasting 60 calendar days. Special sessions may be called either by the Governor or by the leaders of both chambers acting jointly.

The Speaker of the House is elected by the representatives for a two-year term. The Speaker has the power to preside over the chamber during a session, to appoint committee members and chairs of committees, to influence the placement of bills on the calendar, and to rule on procedural motions. The Speaker pro tempore presides if the Speaker leaves the Chair or if there is a vacancy.

Party As of April 2014
     Democratic Party 45
     Republican Party 75
Total 120


Legislature Standing Committees

External links

References