Room 217 Senate History Audio Transcript

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Located on the northeast side of the building, this room is adjacent to the Senate Chambers, focuses on the actions and duties of the Senate, and also includes profiles of notable Senators. If you would like to run for the State Senate in Florida, the qualifications are listed here. You must be 21 years old, have lived in Florida for two years and live in the district you serve. Senators may serve a maximum of two consecutive four-year terms. Since 1975, there have been forty Senate districts in Florida.

Many important Senate events are highlighted; for instance, in 1923, the death of twenty-two year old Martin Talbert from North Dakota in a Florida turpentine camp inflamed public opinion against the practice of leasing convicts as laborers to private firms. The Florida Legislature investigated the scandal and abolished the convict lease system. Also in this exhibit, you can learn about the group of rural Democratic Senators called “The Porkchop Gang” that dominated the Senate and Florida politics from about 1947 to 1965. “Porkchoppers” voted as a block to elect ten consecutive Senate Presidents.

Also in the room, you can learn about the role of the Senate. One role of the Senate is to conduct impeachment trials. When the House impeaches a Cabinet Member or Judge, it is the Senate’s job to decide whether to remove the official from office. In 1963, Circuit Judge Richard Kelly’s controversial impeachment by the House lead to his acquittal by the Senate. Other important Senate events are listed in the room. For instance, in 1990 Gwyn Margolis made history when her colleagues elected her the first female Senate President. Also, in 1992 the Florida Senate was split 20-to-20 between the two political parties. They reached an agreement that allowed Republican Ander Crenshaw to be President for one year; then Democrat Pat Thomas succeeded him for the second year.

Artifacts in this room include items from Senate election campaigns. The large mural in the northeast corner is of the Florida Senate in the new Capitol. This room was the Office of the Secretary of the Senate from 1902 to1923. Behind the protrusion in the southwest corner of the room is the original 1845 chimney.