TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ Florida lawmakers will consider spending federal dollars for energy rebates and overriding some of lame-duck Gov. Charlie Crist's vetoes during a Nov. 16 special legislative session.
Incoming leaders of Florida's Republican-controlled Legislature agreed Thursday to hold the special session on the same day that lawmakers convene for their post-election organizational session.
“Once we take these off the table, we can concentrate on jobs, jobs, jobs,'' said Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island. “We're sending a very clear message today 'We're ready to go to work.'''
Republican Gov.-elect Rick Scott ran on a slogan of “Let's Get to Work.''
Haridopolos and House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, met at the Capitol to hash out an agenda for the special session. It includes override votes on nine bills and a budget item _ a $9.7 million appropriation for the University of Florida's Shands Teaching Hospital.
They cannot formally call the session, though, until sworn in on the morning of Nov. 16. The special session would then be called for that afternoon.
The state has received $31.3 million in stimulus money for solar energy and high-efficiency heating and air-conditioning rebates but that money cannot be spent until appropriated by the Legislature. As a result, the state has been unable to provide rebates promised to consumers who already have installed those systems.
Lawmakers plan to appropriate $28.9 for the solar rebates, but there's a backlog of 13,000 unpaid applications with an estimated value of $52 million. That means applicants will not get full rebates although each should get more than half of what was promised.
The remaining $2.4 million will go to the heating-air conditioning program for applications received by Nov. 30 on systems bought or contracted for between Aug. 30 and Sept. 14.
Lawmakers also plan to delay the implementation of septic tank inspection regulations that have drawn protests in rural areas.
Republicans gained enough seats in Tuesday's election to give them veto-proof majorities in both chambers _ 28-12 in the Senate and 81-39 in the House _ but most bills on the override list passed with little or no opposition. The leaders agreed not to take up vetoes of hotly contested bills on teacher merit pay, abortion and elections.
The targeted vetoes include those on bills to provide a tax break on agricultural lands that are up for sale and to require the Department of Environmental Protection to maintain an inventory of all state property including buildings.
A couple others would make the governor share control of the Department of Management Services with the state Cabinet and require legislative approval of administrative rules that have an economic effect.
There's also the repeal of a law scheduled to go into effect in January that would require home sellers in coastal areas to disclose windstorm mitigation ratings to buyers and a bill to let local governments combine yard trash and garbage collection instead of doing separate pickups.
Most of Crist's vetoes this year came after he quit the Republican Party to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent. He lost that race to Republican Marco Rubio.
The Legislature previously hadn't overridden a single bill vetoed by Crist nor by his Republican predecessor, Jeb Bush. The last overrides were of vetoes by Democrat Lawton Chiles in 1997.