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Tallahassee Roundup

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BRADENTON – The 2013 legislative session has ended, but the fallout has just begun. Some lawmakers are calling for a special session to deal with their collective failure to pass any sort of Medicaid reform. Meanwhile, a company founded by the Senate President is being sued by the Justice Department for Medicare fraud, including during the time when he served as an officer. Governor Scott took off on a post-session victory lap this week, but has been dogged by complaints that he did not fight for issues he had claimed to have prioritized.

Florida Democrats, along with potential 2014 governor candidate, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson have called for a special session on Medicare reform. Governor Scott could call a special session to try and force lawmakers to work out a deal, but as The Tampa Bay Times reports, a special session would not be likely unless the House and Senate show an interest in coming up with a compromise plan they would pass.

Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) is under scrutiny after the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit with a hospice company he founded, for allegedly defrauding Medicare for more than 11 years, including the time Gaetz served as Vice Chairman. Gaetz sold the company to a large hospice chain in 2004 and reportedly does not have current financial ties with the company.

The Governor went on a victory lap, stumping across the state, while promoting what he said he saw as a successful session in which his top priorities were met. Scott mostly focused on the teacher raises, though he caught slack for not fighting for the across the board raises he'd asked for and for letting the legislature insist that they not be implemented until June of 2014, which means another session will take place before then.

The governor officially received the budget this week and has until May 24 to act on it, which means the wheeling and dealing may not be over. Scott could line-item veto several measures, including the proposed 3 percent tuition hike for state universities, which he has said he's firmly against. The governor has also made mention of his intent to scrutinize local pork projects, more of which are coming to light as the lines of the budget are connected.


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