House Republicans plan to meet Tuesday before the 11 a.m. regular floor session, but they won’t allow the public to attend.
With the House and Senate at an impasse over what to do about Medicaid expansion, the Low Income Pool and the overall state budget, not everyone is pleased with the decision.
“We have a crisis in this state and they don’t want us there,” said Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation. “There’s nothing more important this session than Medicaid expansion, LIP and getting a budget passed, and they’re kicking us out.”
The 80 House Republicans will meet in the Majority Office conference room at 322 in the Capitol. Michael Williams, spokesman for House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, said the meeting will be closed.
In a Monday e-mail, Williams cited Article III, Section 4(e) of the Florida Constitution that provides that “all pre-arranged gatherings, between more than two members of the Legislature,…the purpose of which is to agree upon formal legislative action that will be taken at a subsequent time,…regarding pending legislation or amendments, shall be reasonably open to the public.”
But Williams said partisan offices and “other caucuses” regularly hold closed meetings to discuss “procedural and other issues.”
“Such meetings are not problematic so long as participants do not agree upon formal legislative action regarding pending legislation or amendments,” Williams said.
Tuesday’s meeting, Williams said, “will not include agreement on formal legislative action.”
What does formal mean?
Pretty much anything the Republicans want it to, said Petersen, and that’s the problem.
“It’s their call,” she said. “It’s subject to their interpretation. I don’t agree with their interpretation, but we can’t do squat about it. They get to decide what our constitutional right of access means, and they get to enforce it.”
And if somehow, given even those lax standards, they violate the law and take “formal” legislative action?
“How will we know?” Petersen said.
Original article here.