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Monday, January 25, 2021

Due to security concerns, Florida Legislature will not approve outdoors meetings

Posted By on Mon, Jan 25, 2021 at 10:23 AM

click to enlarge Florida's Capitol building in Tallahassee - ADOBE
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  • Florida's Capitol building in Tallahassee

Despite what some Senate Democrats would like, lawmakers will not head outside for committee meetings as the weather gets warmer.

“We have all that (Capitol) plaza, all the room of the portico, the new stuff. We could have lobbyists meetings; we could have public meetings out there,” state Sen. Loranne Ausley said during a Democratic caucus Zoom call last week. “I think we should be, you know, strongly advocating for that. I would feel much more comfortable meeting outside.”

Due to COVID 19-restrictions, members of the public and lobbyists who want to speak during Senate committee meetings can do so remotely, from rooms reserved at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center a few blocks from the Capitol. Committees are meeting in large rooms, allowing more room for senators and staff members to spread out.

Unlike the House, the Senate is prohibiting individual in-person meetings, even by appointment, in Senate offices.

Senate Minority Leader Gary Farmer, D-Lighthouse Point, noted there has been some confusion as a few lobbyists last week made their way into the Senate office building, despite signs explaining the rule of no indoor in-person meetings.

Katie Betta, spokeswoman for Simpson, said Wednesday that Senate committee meetings will remain indoors.

“The President is certainly comfortable with and encourages senators to hold individual meetings outdoors at their discretion, but the Senate has no plans to move committee meetings outdoors at this time,” Betta said in an email. “As you can imagine, outdoor committee meetings pose a number of serious logistical concerns, the most important of which is security.”


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