1. Will lawmakers agree to expand Medicaid? The answer wasn't just no. For the Florida House Republicans it was hell no (and even when the proposal moved beyond Medicaid to the idea of using federal aid to purchase private health insurance)
The decision to reject expansion probably doesn't hurt GOP lawmakers right now. (Of course that could change when all the ramifications of the rejection begin to hit home to businesses and individuals next year.)
But it could be seen as a defeat for Gov. Rick Scott in more ways that one.
He already got hammered by conservatives for his decision to go along with Medicaid expansion after being one of the most ardent opponents to "Obamacare." But with no resolution Scott continues to get hit from Democrats who say this just shows he has no leadership skills. They contend he failed to use his clout to get it passed.
The governor made sure to say that Medicaid expansion was not one of his top priorities, but in the end he remains the one who probably loses the most from both sides of the political spectrum. Not sure how this helps someone whose poll numbers remain below 50 percent.
Democrats have started going on about a special session, but so far Scott has been skeptical about such an approach. Last Friday he said that state lawmakers had made their decision and the "answer is no." Just not sure how that plays - with anyone regardless of their political persuasion.
2. Will Scott get his pay raise for teachers? Kind of.
Yes, lawmakers did put $480 million in the budget, but at first they said it couldn't take effect until June 2014 (or in other words after another session had passed.) Then top legislative leaders said that the June 2014 was Scott's idea (although an email exchange from one of Scott's top aides showed that wasn't the case.)
Lawmakers also tied the pay raise to performance standards instead of an across-the-board $2,500 pay raise. While school districts have the final say over the raise, it remains to be seen how it will be distributed.
Scott has already gone out this week on a five-stop "victory" tour to tout the pay raise.
It's worth remembering that when Scott first pushed the pay raise he wanted it with no strings attached as a reward to the good work that teachers have done so far. "We don't want a war on teachers, we want a war on failure," was the line that Scott gave at the onset of the session.
But Senate President Don Gaetz and Weatherford had their own ideas - and they kept bargaining over the fine print of how the raises would be handed out until the very end of session. They gave Scott enough for him to use for his re-election campaign, but they stopped short of giving the governor exactly what he asked for.
3.Is Jeb Bush still in charge? No. But that doesn't mean he still doesn't have influence. And it may have showed up in key places.
Let's not forget that a few weeks before session that Bush privately told House Republicans that they should reject Medicaid expansion. But Bush added an important element: Make sure to offer up an alternative deal instead of just saying no.
And while many complained that it didn't go far enough House Republicans did in fact unveil their own plan to use state dollars to provide health insurance to roughly 115,000 uninsured Floridians.
Toward the end of the session Weatherford channeled Bush when said: "In politics these days a lot of people say ‘No’ and walk away. We didn’t say no. We offered up an alternative.”
But in other places Bush's influence was not as significant. An example is the defeat again this year of the controversial "parent trigger" bill in the Florida Senate despite Bush's fervent support.
And it was Florida's other famous Republican _ U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio _ who also may have had just as much influence as his one-time mentor. The Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald, for example, reported that Rubio played a role in the last-minute decision by legislators to push back the date of Florida's presidential primary. This was a big deal since it was Rubio who pushed for the change to begin with.
4. A kinder, less partisan Legislature? Nope.
There had been signs right before the start that the Legislature might chart a less confrontational path than in previous years. But the impasse over Medicaid expansion and disagreement over election law changes resulted in a whole lot of acrimony in the waning moments of the session.
Republicans complained that the opposition by Senate Democrats to the election bill (after it was first appeared to be a bipartisan effort) was all about politics.
House Democrats meanwhile used a procedural move to slow down the pace of the session in the final few days that left both sides fuming and scowling. And it turns out that one of the casualties may in fact be Scott's proposal to eliminate sales taxes for manufacturers who purchase the equipment. The tax cut was pushed through by Republicans who refused to answer questions or even debate the measure when it came on the evening of May 1. The result was a vote much closer than anticipated and one that turned to be under the two-thirds requirement for bills that affect local tax revenues.
Weatherford and House staff contend the tax cut bill is not in danger of falling due to a legal challenge. They offered several theories that hinge on your definition of words like "aggregate" and "insignificant."
Weatherford for his part questioned who want to sue over a tax cut. Fair enough. But it's worth wondering whether or not the vote would have been that close if House Republicans weren't scrambling to push through the tax cut bill. (The reason for the rush, of course, was that there were fears that Scott would veto bills being sought by Weatherford and Gaetz if he didn't get his tax cut proposal. Scott signed the bills within an hour of the House vote.)
5. Is this really the year for serious ethics reform? Actually, the answer to this is yes.
While the final ethics bill isn't as far-reaching as some have advocated this is a still an accomplishment given that grand juries and former governors have tried to get the Legislature to crack down on public officials in the last decade.
The final bill for the first time a mechanism that allows the Florida Commission on Ethics to initiate an investigation based upon a referral from the governor or law-enforcement agencies. (It also makes it harder for people to file complaints right before an election based on newspaper stories.)
It puts additional restrictions on lobbying and dual employment by legislators, requires posting of financial disclosure forms on the Internet, and allow the state to go after public officials who have refused to pay fines.
There are some question marks about a couple of the final provisions. But several advocacy groups have noted that the final bill is more than has been done in the area in quite some time.