To Tallahassee and Back: Legislative Memorials in 2012

Memorials are the Legislature's way of communicating with the federal government. Encouraging religious freedom in Turkey and calling for the repeal of Wall Street Reform are subjects of memorials.

An interesting, if little known, aspect of the legislative process is the filing of “memorials.” 

The Language of Lawmaking in Florida IV defines a memorial thus:“Whenever the Legislature speaks to the Federal Government, it does so through a memorial.” A memorial must go through the same rigorous review process that any general bill goes through.Those that pass are sent to Washington, D.C. hopefully for consideration by our federal representatives. However, despite the time and effort put into preparing and passing a memorial, the federal government is under no obligation to do anything once it receives the memorial.

Memorials may be about state issues, national issues or matters of international import. For an example of an international issue, in 2010 Sen. Fasano sponsored a memorial that urged the United States Congress to encourage the government of Turkey to grant the Ecumenical Patriarch appropriate international recognition, ecclesiastical succession, and the right to train clergy of all nationalities.  Closer to home, in 2009 he filed a memorial which would have urged the United States Congress to extend the freeze on increases in the size and weight of commercial motor vehicles. The 2010 memorial passed while the 2009 memorial was withdrawn from consideration. Memorials can be about any issue the federal government plays a role in. 

During the 2012 legislative session, major policy issues were the subjects of memorials considered by the legislature. The following four memorials completed the journey through the legislative process this year and have been passed on to the federal government.

House Memorial 83 urges Congress to propose to the states an amendment to the U.S. Constitution limiting the number of consecutive terms that a member of the U. S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives may serve.  If enacted this would place term limits on congressional members much like Florida has on state-level elected officials.  This memorial passed mostly with a party-line vote.

Senate Memorial 1486 urges Congress to pass House Resolution 2918, the Taiwan Policy Act of 2011. This Act complements the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 by strengthening and clarifying commercial, cultural and other relations between the people of the United States and the people of Taiwan.This memorial passed unanimously.

Senate Memorial 1778 urges the United States Congress to repeal the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.  This federal law provides sweeping changes to the system of regulating consumer financial products and services. The provisions of this act are intended to strengthen oversight of insured depository institutions and non-bank financial companies and to consolidate consumer protection responsibilities that had been fragmented across multiple agencies.  The federal government passed the law in response to the near collapse of the financial markets in 2008.   One of the more controversial memorials of the session, SM 1778 passed largely along party lines.

Senate Memorial 1822 urges the United States Congress to repeal the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, and replace it with “reasonable non-intrusive measure to protect investors.”  The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was designed to prevent accounting scandals such as those that accompanied the failures of Enron and WorldCom.  The act amended Federal securities laws, primarily increasing requirements related to corporate governance, auditing, and financial reporting of public companies that are required to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  This memorial also passed primarily along party lines.

The governor plays no direct role in the memorial process. Once a memorial passes the Legislature, it is signed by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate and is sent to the Secretary of State for transmittal to Washington.  Since a memorial is an expression of the legislature’s will, the governor cannot sign or veto the measure. 

I welcome your questions about the legislative process, state government or any related matters. Please feel free to leave your questions in the comment section and I will answer them in an upcoming post. If there is a specific topic you would like me to write about, please let me know as well.  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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