With session starting, will Republicans change how they govern?
As Florida lawmakers prepare to descend on Tallahassee for their 60-day legislative session, some are wondering if Republicans will alter the way they have governed over the past few sessions.
From forcing public workers to take a pay cut to promoting austerity as a means to economic prosperity in Florida, Republicans have ruled over a policy mess in this state.
So now that the party of Ronald Reagan and Jim Greer have been humbled by a November shellacking at the hands of Barack Obama and company, will the Florida GOP change how they actually govern?
Eh, not likely.
Right after the November elections, many pointed out that Republicans may have a tough time re-gaining their electoral footing in the near future due to the county’s changing demographics.
Republicans have traditionally relied on white voters to lift them to electoral victories in the past, so their inability to connect with minorities represents and a clear and present danger to their vitality as a party in the future.
No matter how many districts they gerrymander or change election laws to aid their cause, the GOP will have to change how they approach politics.
But back to the lecture at hand.
Florida is faced with real issues, like education funding, whether or not to augment Medicaid, changing the stand your ground law and budgeting.
Watching how new Republican House Speaker Will Weatherford tackles these problems will give a read into if he truly believes in bipartisanship, changing his party’s governing approach and helping Rick Scott’s chances at being re-elected.
Mr. Weatherford even pledged to work with Democrats after he was named House Speaker.
“What I can commit to is that you will always be treated with fairness and respect – no matter which party you represent,” said Weatherford. “I welcome and value the spirited debate and the clash of ideas. It is good and healthy for this process and it produces better solutions.”
The future of the GOP may depend on how well they work with their opponents across the aisle.
While Republicans still hold a commanding majority in Tallahassee, their decisions on which bills to put forth and expanding Medicaid will give us an early peek into their plans for the immediate future.
I wouldn’t hold my breath on the GOP’s ability to change, but there is always room for alteration.
Until that first gavel is banged, we’ll have to take a wait and see approach on the “new” Florida Republican Party.