More than a hundred Florida legislators pack into state capitol together on Thursday

click to enlarge Florida House Speaker José R. Oliva shakes hands with Senate President Bill Galvano - Photo via Florida House of Representatives
Photo via Florida House of Representatives
Florida House Speaker José R. Oliva shakes hands with Senate President Bill Galvano
House members will submit to health screenings before a floor session Thursday to vote on a proposed $93.2 billion budget for next fiscal year, the House announced Wednesday.

Following guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to combat the coronavirus, the screenings will consist of a brief series of questions and use of a no-touch thermometer. Rep. Cary Pigman, an Avon Park Republican who is an emergency-medicine physician, will conduct the tests with three nurse practitioners.

“Any member who shows signs of a fever, other symptoms, or who may have had exposure to the virus will be asked to self-isolate,” the House said in a news release. “They will be invited to submit a vote after roll call and comments explaining their vote in writing for inclusion in the House Journal.”

Legislative leaders maintain that members must vote in person, based on the state Constitution, to approve the budget.

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Legislative leaders maintain that members must vote in person, based on the state Constitution, to approve the budget. Not all House members are expected to attend, including Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, a Mount Dora Republican who is pregnant, and Rep. Joe Geller, an Aventura Democrat who at age 66 has diabetes and high blood pressure.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Senate president’s office said seven senators will not attend: Democrats Lori Berman of Lantana, Oscar Braynon of Miami Gardens, Janet Cruz of Tampa, Kevin Rader of Delray Beach and Jose Javier Rodriguez of Miami and Republicans Gayle Harrell of Stuart and Anitere Flores of Miami.

The Senate also has taken a series of steps to try to prevent senators and staff members from being exposed to the virus Thursday.

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Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, all bars and nightclubs in Florida were closed on March 17 for 30 days. As of March 18, Central Florida restaurants are still open for takeout and delivery, and grocery stores are open during limited hours. Follow CDC guidelines and Orange County advisories on staying safe.
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