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Legislators: Work first, blather later

On Friday, the Florida Senate wasted nearly an hour on flowery tributes to Bradenton Sen. Mike Bennett, who will be leaving office this year, pushed out by term limits.

On Thursday, Rep. Brad Drake of DeFuniak Springs, who is similarly "term-limited," droned on for -- well, I don't know how long, because I turned off the streaming coverage of his long goodbye after about 45 minutes. 

These verbal valedictory laps are wasting many of the waning hours of this year's legislative session, even as the Miami Herald reports today that the Legislature has managed to pass only 27 of more than 2,000 bills that were filed, with only eight days left.

And of those 27, five were "memorials" -- messages of entreaty or protest -- to Congress and two were redistricting maps.

Several of the bills that our readers care about have yet to see action, including a ban on kickbacks in the clinical-lab business and drawing down federal funds to boost pay for primary care.

Is it too much to ask that lawmakers get some work done before giving their self-congratulatory speeches?

--Health News Florida is an independent online publication dedicated to public-service journalism. Editor Carol Gentry can be reached at 727-410-3266 or by e-mail.

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.