The Florida Legislature convenes its annual session Tuesday with the usual ceremonial formalities and a few prominent bills on its opening-day agenda.
The governor's State of the State speech, always the main event in the flower-bedecked House chamber, will be heard in a joint session at 11 a.m. Gov. Rick Scott has already outlined his plans for an election-year reduction of $500 million in state taxes and fees, along with increased spending on education and other items in his $74.2 billion state budget.
House and Senate members will be arriving over the weekend and have a series of session-eve committee meetings set for Monday.
The House meets at 9 a.m., followed by the Senate at 10 a.m., for such annual formalities as opening remarks by their presiding officers. Then they will be joined by the Supreme Court and agency heads for Scott's speech.
After lunch, the Senate has a 2 p.m. floor session and the House meets two hours later.
Opening day used to be formalities and festivities, but today's lawmakers like to do popular things up front. Last year, it was ethics and elections reforms on the agenda and this year, it's a joint residency rule to make sure members actually live in their districts. This year, the Senate has four bills to toughen sentencing and supervision of sexual predators, set for passage on opening day. The House plans to make fast work of a veterans package, affording in-state tuition and other benefits for returning military members.