Is 60 days enough time for Florida's legislative session?

'The Legislature cannot do the work the people have hired us to do in 60 days,' Rep. Spencer Roach says
The Florida Capitol
Posted at 4:27 PM, Mar 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-16 17:27:33-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — For another year, Florida lawmakers couldn't get done on time.

Their 60-day session concluded Monday, three days late, with many bills left unfinished.

It has some people now calling for an extended legislative year. The 2022 session was not an exception.

Members have been tardy five for the last six years.

Leadership has also regularly called them back for special sessions to address issues. In 2021, lawmakers took extra weeks to tackle vaccine mandates and gaming regulation.

Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, said it was time to discuss change.

He has suggested 75 or 90 days instead of the current schedule.

"The Legislature cannot do the work the people have hired us to do in 60 days," Roach told us earlier this week.

Florida has had a 60-day lawmaking session since 1968.

Back then, its population was under 7 million. The state has now grown to more than 20 million.

"In 1968, a Florida state representative represented around 50,000 people," Roach said. "Now, a Florida state representative represents around 200,000 people, so to try and pretend that workload has not increased with the population is laughable."

Feelings on the issue are mixed. It would likely raise costs to keep lawmakers and staff at the Capitol longer. Also, members would have to endure more time away from family.

Sen. Travis Hutson, March 16, 2022
Sen. Travis Hutson says he would not be in favor of extending the legislative session.

"I'm fine with the 60," said Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Palm Coast. "I've got three little ones at home."

Florida's House Speaker has also rejected the idea, telling us Monday that "60 days is plenty."

Any expansion would need a constitutional amendment, which could be difficult to achieve. Lawmakers can vote to place the issue on the ballot in a forthcoming legislative session or petitioners could collect enough signatures to get it there.

Roach was hopeful for at least a "robust discussion" on the topic in the coming months. He said Florida has grown too large to ignore the issue.

"We're not a backwater anymore like we were in 1968 when this constitution was put in place," Roach said.