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    Legislature in brief

    Today is the 52nd day of the 60-day session.

    By STEVE BOUSQUET and LUCY MORGAN
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published March 14, 2002


    A legal wrinkle in redistricting maps?

    The evolving legal battle between Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature over the redrawing of legislative and congressional districts took a fresh twist Wednesday.

    Democrats dusted off a 66-year-old court ruling they claim casts doubt on every vote by the Senate since March 7, including a redistricting plan approved by a committee Tuesday. Republicans rejected the argument. A court may decide the question.

    Senate Democratic Leader Tom Rossin, D-Royal Palm Beach, cited a provision in the state Constitution that says neither house of the Legislature may adjourn for more than 72 hours without a resolution approved by both houses.

    Rossin said the six-day period between Senate sessions, from March 7 to Wednesday, constituted an "adjournment." He cited a 1936 Florida Supreme Court case, Landis vs. Thompson, that he claimed backed his position.

    Senate Rules Chairman Tom Lee, R-Brandon, rejected the argument, saying lawmakers have been "in recess" since March 7, holding committee meetings and conducting other routine business. Lee also said the Landis case is irrelevant because it dealt with the Legislature going past its 60-day limit.

    Governor pays call on the working press

    House Speaker Tom Feeney is well accustomed to surprises, but when he looked up at the glass-enclosed House press gallery Wednesday, he did a double-take.

    Then Feeney saluted.

    Standing amid the reporters from Florida's daily newspapers was Gov. Jeb Bush, seeing the House as reporters see it.

    The visit immediately turned into a press conference, with Bush fielding questions about the various bills passing below and expressing hope that the 2002 Legislature will end soon.

    "I don't need all this excitement," Bush said. "I have an exciting enough job as it is."

    The legislative process isn't always smooth, the governor noted. "But it's not a naturally smoothly working system," he said. "But y'all know that. That's why you're here."

    * * *

    For information about legislation, call 1-800-342-1827 or 1-850-488-4371 toll-free during business hours.

    For Internet users, Online Sunshine is the official site for the Legislature: www.leg.state.fl.us

    Capitol Update, a half-hour TV program on the day's legislative highlights distributed by the Sunshine Network, airs weekday evenings on a number of public stations. Some government access channels also offer gavel-to-gavel coverage of some floor sessions and committee meetings. Check TV Times for schedules.

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    From the Times state desk