For more than an hour, House Republicans met to discuss Medicaid expansion and how it relates to the Low Income Pool, the two issues that have made the legislative session screech to a halt.
But Republicans decided to ban the public from the meeting, claiming they wouldn’t talk about pressing legislative matters.
So reporters had to stand outside and wait for lawmakers to come out and recap what they couldn’t discuss in public. Yes, this is Florida, which prides itself on its open meetings law. And yes, despite that pride, legislators can lock out the press so they can discuss matters like Medicaid expansion.
Associated Press reporter Gary Fineout listened in to the meeting by placing his ear at the crack of door. It’s not glamorous, but Fineout was able to catch certain phrases here and there. Here’s what he told the rest of us as we waited for Republicans to end their secret meeting.
“We’re asking you to trust us,” Speaker Steve Crisafulli told Republican members. “Feel good about where you are.” (applause)
Crisafulli told the caucus that former Gov. Jeb Bush was taken out of context when he was recently quoted on Medicaid.
“We’re going to get beat up by the press,” Crisafulli said.
“We’re going to do what we can do to get out of town constitutionally, whether it’s through a special session or extended session,” Crisafulli said.
That sure sounds like strategy and discussing action on future legislative action. But afterward, Crisafulli pointed out that Medicaid expansion is not legislation that is before the House. It is, however, in front of the Senate, which Fineout said would subject the meeting to the open meetings law.
Crisafulli, however, said the House’s general counsel, Matt Carson, had cleared the script that Crisafulli was reading from.
“I was very scripted. He said everything we were doing in that meeting was perfectly within the confines of the the law.”
Original article and video here.