Florida Legislature

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Florida Legislature
2014-16 Florida Legislature
Coat of arms or logo
Houses Senate
House of Representatives
Founded May 26, 1845
Preceded by Legislative Council of the Territory of Florida
New session started
January 12, 2016
Andy GardinerR
Since November 18, 2014
Steve CrisafulliR
Since November 18, 2014
Seats 40 senators
120 representatives
Senate political groups
Republican Party: 26
Democratic Party: 14
House political groups
Republican Party: 81
Democratic Party: 39
Authority Article III, Florida Constitution
Salary $29,697/year + per diem
Last general election
November 4, 2014
Next general election
November 8, 2016
Redistricting Legislative control
In God We Trust
Meeting place
Tallahassee Old and New Capitols 3.jpg
Florida Capitol (Old Capitol in foreground), Tallahassee

The Florida Legislature is the two houses that act as the state legislature of the U.S. state of Florida. The Florida Constitution states that "The legislative power of the state shall be vested in a legislature of the State of Florida," composed of a Senate and House of Representatives.[1] The legislature is seated at the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee. Both chambers have been under Republican control since 1996.

Composed of 160 state legislators term-limited to eight consecutive years. There is no limit on total number of terms. The state legislature meets beginning in March for a period not to exceed 60 calendar days. Special sessions are called as needed.

Its statutes, called "chapter laws" or generically as "slip laws" when printed separately, are compiled into the Laws of Florida and are called "session laws".[2] The Florida Statutes are the codified statutory laws of the state.[2]

Powers and process

File:Florida Senate Chamber.jpg
Chamber of the Florida Senate

The Florida Legislature is authorized by the Florida Constitution to create and amend the laws of the U.S. state of Florida, subject to the governor's power to veto legislation. To do so, legislators propose legislation in the forms of bills drafted by a nonpartisan, professional staff.[3] Successful legislation must undergo committee review, three readings on the floor of each house, with appropriate voting majorities, as required, and either be signed into law by the governor or enacted through a veto override approved by two-thirds of the membership of each legislative house.[3]

The Legislature also has the power to propose amendments to the Florida Constitution. The rules for the Florida Legislature are laid out within the Constitution of Florida, and is also prescribed the respective chambers when applicable. Florida has had a total of six different state constitutions, signed in 1838, 1861 (secession), 1865, 1868, 1885, and 1968 (the current Florida Constitution).

In 2009, legislators filed 2,138 bills for consideration. On average, the Legislature has passed about 300 bills into law annually.[4]

Earmarks that have not gone through the normal legislative process are known colloquially as "turkeys." In 2010, Florida TaxWatch, a government watchdog organization, counted 41 "turkeys" totaling $61 million.[5]



The Florida Constitution mandates a bicameral state legislature with an upper house Florida Senate of no more than 40 members and a lower Florida House of Representatives of no more than 120 members.[1] A legislator of either house must be at least 21 years of age, a resident of the district in which he or she will serve, and a resident of Florida for at least two years before being qualified to run for election.

Due to term limits, state representatives may be elected for up to four terms (eight years), while state senators can be elected for up to two terms (eight years). Former members can be elected again after a two-year break.

Both chambers have been under Republican control since 1996.


The House of Representatives is headed by the Speaker, while the Senate is headed by the President. The House Speaker and Senate President control the assignment of committees and leadership positions, along with control of the agenda in their chambers. The two leaders, along with the Governor of Florida, control most of the agenda of state business in Florida.


The Florida Legislature meets in a 60-day regular session each spring. While sessions in odd-numbered years must begin on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March, the Legislature can by law adjust the schedule for even-numbered years.[6][7] In recent years, the Legislature has opted to start in January so as to allow lawmakers to be home with their families during schools' spring breaks, and to give more time ahead of the legislative elections in the fall.[8] Legislators start committee activity in September of the year prior to the regular session. This is to promote their bills through committee in time for the official session.[9]

On the fourteenth day following each general election, the Legislature meets for an organization session to organize and select officers.[6]

Special sessions may be called by the governor, by a joint proclamation of the Senate President and House Speaker, or by a three-fifths vote of all legislators.[6][10]


In 2013, the legislature filed about 2000 bills. About 1000 of these are "member bills." The remainder are bills by committees responsible for certain functions, such as budget.[9]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Florida Constitution
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Statutes & Constitution: Online Sunshine". Florida Legislature. Retrieved 26 September 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Senate Handbook, 2012-2014, Florida Senate (accessed April 28, 2013)
  4. Flemming, Paul (March 8, 2009). Capital Ideas: Lawmakers face 2,138 proposals. Florida Today.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Schweers, Jeff (27 May 2010). "Supporters object after group calls parkway project a 'turkey'". Melbourne, Florida: Florida Today. pp. 1B.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Article III of the Constitution of Florida Section 3, Constitution of Florida (1968). Retrieved on 2016-02-18.
  7. Prior to 1991, the regular legislative session began in April. Senate Joint Resolution 380 (1989) proposed to the voters a constitutional amendment (approved November 1990) that shifted the starting date of regular session from April to February. Subsequently, Senate Joint Resolution 2606 (1994) proposed to the voters a constitutional amendment (approved November 1994) shifting the start date to March, where it remains. The reason for the "first Tuesday after the first Monday" requirement stems back to the time when session began in April. Session could start any day from April 2nd through April 8th, but never on April 1 -- April Fool's Day.
  8. Buzzacco-Foerster, Jenna (2016-02-18). "Proposal to move 2018 session to January heads House floor". Florida Politics. Retrieved 2016-02-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 Dockery, Paula (January 18, 2014). "Editorial:Advice to Legislature:Pursue limited agenda". Florida Today. Melbourne, Florida. pp. 11A. Retrieved January 18, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. § 11.011, Fla. Stat. (2015)

External links