Florida Senators: A Brief History of The Florida Senate

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One of the two houses of the US Congress, the Senate, was created in 1789 as per the Constitution. Each state chooses two senators for a six-year tenure. The Senate is known as “the house that never dies” because around one-third of its members have terms that expire every two years.

Constitutional Foundation

The Founding Fathers, including George Washington, intended the Senate to serve as a check on the House of Representatives, chosen by popular vote. As a result, every state is equally represented, regardless of the size or population of the United States Senators. Furthermore, state legislatures conducted Senate elections indirectly before the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution (1913). The senators are currently chosen by state voters directly.

All American lawmaking is the joint responsibility of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Both houses of Congress must adopt the same legislation to be considered an act of Congress.

Under the “advice and consent” provisions of the Constitution (Article II, section 2), the Senate is granted significant authority: treaties must be ratified by a two-thirds majority of the senators present, and significant public appointments, such as those of Supreme Court justices, cabinet members, and ambassadors, must be approved by a simple majority. 

The Senate also decides on impeachment cases brought by the House of Representatives; conviction requires a two-thirds majority.

Political parties and the committee structure control process and organization, just like in the House of Representatives. To oversee Senate activity, each party elects a leader, typically a senator with significant authority in and of themselves. The majority leader is the central figure of the largest party, whereas the minority leader is the head of the opposing party.

 The appointment of party members to the Senate committees, which evaluate and process legislation and exercise overall control over government agencies and public service, is another significant function of the Senate leaders. While acting as the Senate’s president, the United States vice president can only cast a vote in ties. 

The president pro tempore—typically the longest-serving senator from the majority party—presides over the Senate while the vice president is absent.

Sixteen standing committees, each with a staff, a budget, and several subcommittees, are primarily organized around essential policy topics. Each committee’s chair belongs to the majority party. The judiciary, appropriations, finance, operations of government, and international relations are a few significant standing committees. 

Each Congress session, thousands of measures are referred to committees; however, only a tiny portion of these bills are considered by the committees.

 The final text for legislation is considered at “mark-up” meetings, which may be public or private. The committees hold hearings and invite witnesses to give testimony regarding the legislation they are considering. Additionally, select and special committees are established to look into various topics, such as ageing, ethics, Indian relations, and intelligence, and to report their findings to the Senate.

Due to its smaller size than the House of Representatives, the Senate can hold longer debate sessions. Three-fifths of the senators (60 senators) must vote in favour of cloture to stop a filibuster, preventing legislation’s passage through interminable debate. (The Senate’s cloture procedure was reinterpreted in 2013 to allow for debate on all presidential nominations except those to the Supreme Court; the interpretation was repeated in 2017 for Supreme Court nominations.)

 Cloture can only be triggered by a vote of two-thirds of the present senators if the proposed legislation will modify the Senate’s standing rules. The structure of party control in the Senate is less complex; the votes of influential senators may have more impact than the party’s position.

The Florida Senate 

The upper house of the legislature is known as the Florida State Senate. It collaborates with the governor of Florida to draft legislation and develop a state budget, making up the legislative arm of the Florida state government along with the Florida House of Representatives. The first two senators from Florida were David Levy Yulee and James Westcott. The Florida State Senate’s legislative duties and authority include the following:

  • Adopting legislation on public policy issues.
  • Determining the amount of money the state should spend.
  • Raising and cutting taxes.
  • Voting to sustain or override vetoes by the governor.

The Florida State Senate convenes in the Tallahassee, Florida, state capitol building.

The Florida Supreme Court authenticated new legislative maps created by the Florida State Legislature on March 3, 2022. The Florida legislative elections of 2022 will be held under these maps.

In 2022, elections will be held for all 40 seats in the Florida State Senate in November.

Of Florida’s 40 Senate seats, 20 were up for election in 2020 for the election of senators. The Republican majority in the chamber increased to 24-16 from 23-17.

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The Republican trifecta in Florida. The chambers of the state legislature and the governor’s office are under the control of the Republican Party.

 Traditionally Former United States Senators (former senators) from Lee County have been elected from the Republicans’ camp.

The Florida State Senate was largely under Republican control from 1992 through 2020. Before 1992, the chamber was firmly controlled by Democrats. Therefore this was new (like most southern state legislatures). As the American South transitioned from over 175 years of Democratic dominance to becoming firmly Republican by the early 21st century, the partisan shift in the chamber co-occurred. 

The Florida State Senate was largely under Republican control from 1992 through 2020. Before 1992, the chamber was firmly controlled by Democrats. Therefore this was new (like most southern state legislatures). As the American South transitioned from over 175 years of Democratic dominance to becoming firmly Republican by the early 21st century, the partisan shift in the chamber co-occurred. 

Florida Senator Marco Rubio

The state legislature in Florida determines the boundaries of both the congressional and state legislative districts. The legislation passed by Congress is treated like regular legislation and vetoable by the governor. Joint resolutions are used to pass state legislative lines, and the governor does not veto them. Maps of state legislative districts are automatically submitted for approval to the Florida Supreme Court. 

The legislature will have another opportunity to create a plan if the court rejects the lines. The state attorney general must request the state supreme court to design a plan if the legislature cannot accept a state legislative redistricting plan. The process for congressional districts is not the same. 

Constitution of Florida

According to the Florida Constitution, all congressional and state legislative districts must be contiguous. Additionally, “[districts] must be compact and use existing political and geographical boundaries where possible provided doing so does not interfere with minority rights.” A political party or the incumbent cannot be favored or disadvantaged in drawing a district.

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