Hillsborough County Republican lawmakers reminisce on session with Brandon Chamber of Commerce

05/29/13 Janelle Irwin
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After both chambers of the Florida legislature failed to agree on how to take care of some of the state’s uninsured, some Hillsborough County Republicans still aren’t sure what will happen with Medicaid expansion. During a Brandon Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday, Senator Tom Lee responded to pleas for lawmakers to go into special session to figure it out.

The Florida Senate passed a bill that would have used federal money to provide private insurance to 1.2 million Floridians. A House plan would have covered far fewer people and at the state’s expense. Lithia Representative Jake Raburn was among House Republicans who didn’t want to accept federal money tied to the Affordable Care Act for fear that it may cost the state big in the future.

Four Tallahassee Republicans were pressed on everything from Medicaid expansion to the state’s pension program including Dover Representative Ross Spano and Plant City’s Dan Raulerson. One question surfaced about whether or not a 60-day legislative session is enough for lawmakers in Tallahassee to do their jobs. Raulerson said it’s too much.

He instead proposed meeting every other year and said it’s a tactic that has worked well in Texas. His colleagues agreed with him that lawmaker’s jobs shouldn’t be expanded, but Senator Lee from Brandon said there could be ways to make the system more efficient. He suggested meeting more frequently for shorter periods of time.

For the most part, the Republican group of lawmakers agreed on issues coming out of Tallahassee and most of the crowd of about fifty chamber members nodded with them as they answered questions. But former Hillsborough County Commission candidate and Democrat Mark Nash said the forum wasn’t well represented.

The Republican delegation of legislative leaders in Hillsborough County also tackled the state’s pension program. They praised a failed proposal that would have shifted state workers’ retirement plans from a defined benefit program and instead make it more inline with private 401(k) programs. The current system, they all agreed, isn’t working and the issue will likely come up again next year.

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