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To Tallahassee and Back: The Interim, Part One

The interim is the period of time between the end of one regular session and the beginning of the next. In many aspects more gets done during this time than during the entire legislative session.

As the governor continues to review and sign bills into law, and the special session on reapportionment continues, I am going to explore another aspect of the legislative process.

This week’s entry looks at the term “the interim.”  The interim is simply the period of time between the end of one regular session and the beginning of the next. 

The interim, despite its rather innocuous-sounding name, is a time of great activity. Everything from closing the books on the previous session to preparing for the next takes place during this time.  In many aspects more gets done during this time than during the entire legislative session. 

When a session ends “sine die” (meaning “without day”), as occurred this year on March 9, 2012, many things are still left to be done.  Bills that passed during the session that have yet to be sent to the governor for his consideration are transmitted to his office. Before a bill that passed both chambers can make it to the governor’s desk, the presiding officers of both chambers must sign the legislation. The chamber from which the bill originated is responsible for shepherding it through this part of the process. 

As bills are signed by the governor they become part of statutory revision. This process, greatly aided by the advent of computers, updates Florida’s statute books to reflect the various changes made during the legislative session. Statutes or portions of statutes that are repealed are removed while new language is added. 

Occasionally, the same statute may be amended more than one time during any given legislative session. If that is the case, the last version of the change that passes is what becomes law.

At the end of the statutory revision process new statute books are printed and made available in electronic format. In addition to the updated statute books the Laws of Florida are published once all action has taken place on bills that passed.  The law books are the actual language of each bill that passed in any given year.  The law books show the additions and subtractions to impacted statutes, while the statute books show the final version of the new statutes only.  

If the governor chooses to exercise his veto pen and kills a bill, it is sent to the secretary of state with a letter explaining why the bill was vetoed. Sometimes bills are vetoed for technical deficiencies, more often than not they are vetoed due to a fundamental disagreement over the policy change proposed by the Legislature.  Whatever the reason for the veto may be, that bill will not be reflected in the statute books.  However, passage of the bill will be forever memorialized in the House and Senate Journals.  

The Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House oversee the flow of documents throughout the year. These individuals are constitutional officers who are elected by the respective chambers to serve at their pleasure.

Journals are compiled on a daily basis during session and serve as a permanent record of each bill considered on the floor, the votes taken, resolutions adopted, who gave the invocation, which pages or messengers lead the pledge of allegiance, various remarks that have been moved for inclusion in the journal. and other pieces of information dealing with the day-to-day operation of the two chambers. The journals serve not only as historical documents they are research tools that can be used during the interim for whatever reason the researcher may need. 

While no means exhaustive, this is but a few examples of what occurs during the start of “the interim.” Next week’s entry will look at what happens later during the interim as preparations are made for the start of the next regular legislative session.  

I welcome your questions about the legislative process or any subject that lawmakers may have considered.  Please feel free to leave your questions in the comment section and I will answer them in an upcoming post.  If there is a specific topic you would like me to write about please let me know as well. 

I welcome your questions about the legislative process or any subject that lawmakers may have considered. Please feel free to leave your questions in the comment section and I will answer them in an upcoming post.  If there is a specific topic you would like me to write about please let me know as well.  

Tallahassee and Back: Thoughts and Observations About Laws that Impact You is an ongoing blog by State Sen. Mike Fasano's chief legislative aide. You can e-mail him at GIORDANO.GREGORY.S11@flsenate.gov.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Brian Corley March 26, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Great article Greg-thanks for keeping us informed!

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