When the first session under Republican rule ended, House Speaker Daniel Webster and Senate President Toni Jennings sat at a tiny table in the Capitol rotunda and Gov. Lawton Chiles poured orange juice for their toast to a new political era.
It wasn’t that everybody agreed with the two Orland Republicans presiding over the Legislature. It was that Webster and Jennings agreed work days would end at 6 p.m. and sessions would end on time.
And since that all-smiles celebration of 1997, lawmakers have pretty much finished their sessions on time. Long gone are the days of Democratic dominance when “sine die” meant convening at 7 a.m. and working past midnight as legislative “trains” of big issues were strung together – often including hand-written amendments that were literally run between House and Senate and voted upon unread by most members.