Representative Kevin Rader (D-81st, Boca Raton) has introduced legislation (HB 1349) to revise the mission of the Presidential Preference Primary Date Selection Committee (PPPDSC) and to return the primary election to the second Tuesday in March position the Florida primary occupied on every primary calendar from 1976-2004. By calling for a specific date on which the primary is to be held, the PPPDSC is superfluous. The committee was formed based on changes to Florida election law during the 2011 state legislative session to give the state more flexibility than the constraints of the state legislative calendar afforded. By ceding the decision on when the primary would be, the state legislature empowered the PPPDSC with the ability to make the date selection decision as late as October 1 in any year immediately preceding a presidential election. That allowed Florida to wait until most other states had decided on when their primaries would be. That had not historically been the case in Florida. To that point, the state was forced to handle this decision through the state legislature when it was in session (March-May); before many states had acted to shift the dates on which their contests would be held.
HB 1349 takes that power away from the PPPDSC and alters its name, membership and mission. With a primary date set in stone (in the legislation), the PPPDSC becomes the Presidential Candidate Selection Committee (PCSC). Instead of the governor, speaker of the state house and president of the state senate choosing three members to the committee, the committee will be comprised of the speaker, the president, the minority leaders of both state legislative chambers and the chairs of any party utilizing the primary as a means of presidential nomination. The PCSC would then be charged with the task of deciding which candidates appear on the presidential preference primary ballot for their respective parties. [Democrats on the committee would not have influence over the Republican candidates appearing on the ballot and vice versa.]
The bottom line on this is that the date of the Florida presidential primary in 2016 would become more certain under the provisions of this bill and thus less of a potential headache for the national parties and other states (both carve-out states and other would-be rogue states).
But there is one caveat to this. Democrats in both the Florida House and Senate have filed and introduced bills to move the primary back to March in state legislative sessions in 2009 (House version, Senate companion) and 2011 (House version, Senate companion). Representative Rader, the author of the 2013 bill, was the primary sponsor of the 2009 House version. As was the case in 2009 and 2011, both chambers of the 2013 Florida legislature are controlled by Republicans; Republicans who were not collectively interested in any of the previous legislation.
That does not bode well for the 2013 legislation, but it does give Florida Democrats some cover in possibly applying for a waiver from the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee to hold a primary on a non-compliant date should the primary be non-compliant after 2015.
As of now, there is no state senate companion bill.
[These changes are included on an updated 2016 presidential primary calendar here.]
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