Vacant seats to dot Legislature during Session – Florida Politics (blog)
More than 1.1 million Florida voters won’t have a representative in one of the legislative chambers when the 2018 Session begins next month.
Resignations and a recent death have created six open seats, with most expected to remain vacant through the 60-day Session because of scheduling requirements for special elections.
The vacancies do little to alter the Republican hold on both chambers, with the GOP up 23-15 in the Senate and 76-40 in the House entering the 2018 Session.
But a vacancy can mean additional work for other lawmakers.
More importantly, Aubrey Jewett, a political-science professor at the University of Central Florida, said people in districts short of full representation could struggle to see local needs and funding advanced.
“Some districts have certain issues that are important which may not be pursued at all or pursued with the same vigor,” Jewett said. “Every district may have specific issues or projects that they would like funded. In the absence of representation, it is likely they will not get their share of the appropriations pie.”
“The system is set up so that most members primarily listen to and try to help their own constituents — under normal circumstances it is considered bad form to work with a constituent who does not live in your district,” Jewett added. “Some years ago, when I was in college, I interned with my state representative. One of the first things that I was taught when being contacted by someone was to get their address and find out if they lived in the district or not. If they did not, I was directed to steer them towards their appropriate elected official.”
However, he noted that district staff members usually remain in place until new lawmakers are seated,