It turns out the Florida Senate may not be as cool as observers thought to House Speaker Dean Cannon’s proposed ballot amendment to restructure the Florida Supreme Court. This week Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff sponsored a Senate companion to one aspect of the House bill, Senate confirmation of Justices, Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida reports:
It marked the first clear sign that Cannon’s most sweeping judicial reform – to split the Supreme Court it into two divisions, one handling criminal cases and the other tackling civil matters – could be seriously considered by the Senate this year.
“I think you’re getting towards the end of session, and this is when everything starts to gel and you decide what you want to focus on and what you don’t want to focus on,” said Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff (R-Fort Lauderdale).
Bogdanoff sponsored the confirmation bill and asked a fellow senator to offer the wider package in the Senate Rules Committee as a courtesy amendment, which is scheduled to be considered by the panel today.
Bogdanoff said the new measure would largely match up with the House bill, though there are some differences relating to the confirmation process.
The House proposal would allow a Senate committee to take up nominees, while Bogdanoff’s plan would call for the upper chamber to vote on the nomination within 90 days of the governor naming an appointment, even if that required a special session.
The difference in this plan from the House’s proposed confirmation process — confirmation by vote of the entire Senate versus confirmation by a Senate committee vote — seems fairly minor, and I’d expect the House and Senate to be able to resolve such trivial variations. But this is just the beginning of the process in the Senate and we’ll have to wait and see just how the rest of the details play out.