Making Sausage in Tallahassee

By Todd Merrill | Vice President | Taylor Morrison

Last week, I had the privilege of joining FHBA Executive Director Rusty Payton and lobbyist Kari Hebrank for a couple days of sausage making in Tallahassee…figuratively of course. We actually spent time shepherding a bill through the process to become law. While our FHBA team works through this process on our behalf on a daily basis, for those of us who don’t it is quite an experience. On the first day we arrived at the Capitol building late in the afternoon. From all the recent stories in the news regarding the goings on in Tallahassee, one would think all the legislators and lobbyists would be out to happy hour by then and you’d find an empty building. That was certainly not the case. The bill we were working on was going to be up for a vote before the civil justice and claims committee the next morning, so our first stop was to meet with Rep. Leek, who is the bill’s sponsor in the House. He graciously welcomed us into his office.  We discussed the current status of the draft bill and quickly learned that the consensus we thought we created over the weekend regarding certain language in the bill was evaporating. So we quickly set off to scour the Capitol to find the various constituents interested in the bill to see where thinks got off the tracks. While Kari feverously texted everyone to find out where they were, we quickly met with the committee chair to let her know what (at least what we thought) was coming before her committee the next day. Following that meeting, we raced back to Rep. Leek’s office to join the other parties interested in the bill who had gathered at Kari’s behest. We all politely agreed to continue disagreeing, but everyone still wanted the bill to get to the committee, even if everyone knew further consensus building and amendments were in order, so that’s what happened.

We arrived back at the Capitol early the next morning, since our bill was the first item on the agenda. After disclosing to the committee that the bill remained a work in process, they held a vote and passed our bill out of the committee.  Immediately following that hearing, the group that gathered in Rep. Leek’s office the night before re-convened in a small conference in an attempt to reach a compromise we could collectively present to Rep. Leek. After a couple hours of arm twisting, we finally got there and now have a bill with full support of the interested parties that can hopefully fly through the legislature and find its way to the Governor’s desk. In a month or so we’ll know if the sausage turned out like we hoped.

Not sure what kind of omen this was, but as I left the building a penguin, owl and sloth were coming in…seriously. I don’t know what bill they were promoting, but I’m sure they were setting off to go do the same thing I had just done over the last 24 hours, although I’m sure they got a lot more attention than I did.