Brian Pitts

She’s baaaack! Hugs for Hukill

HukillSen. Dorothy Hukill received a round of applause yesterday from her colleagues during roll call in the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee.

The Port Orange Republican, who missed the entire 2017 legislative session due to cancer treatments, even seemed delighted to hear the input of Brian Pitts, the ubiquitous Capitol gadfly.

Pitts, a.k.a. Justice to Jesus, was commenting provided on a bill that would designate $50 million a year for beach renourishment.

“I missed it,” Hukill said, to the disbelief of Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala.

“At the first committee meeting of the final year of my 16 years up here, and I listen to the speaker,” Latvala, the bill’s sponsor, said, “and I think about the things that I’m going to miss in the process, and the things that I’m not going to miss, that’s definitely going to be on one of those lists.”

Hukill, a 71-year-old attorney who admittedly can be “pretty insistent,” spent the 2017 session watching the session on a pair of screens — a home computer and an iPad — at her Port Orange home while recovering from surgery for cervical cancer.

“It’s very exciting to be in the (committee) room,” Hukill said after Monday’s meeting. “It’s lovely to watch it on the wonderful Florida Channel, which I was very, very happy to have. But I’d rather be here.”

Hukill noted she often got “verbal” at the screens while watching the 2017 session and that a number of people “got tired of me calling them.”

She expects the welcome-backs and hugs to quickly give way to legislative normalcy.

“It’s exciting to be back. People are giving give me a breather for a day or two,” she noted. “It’s tough not being here.”

Hukill, the chair of the Education Committee, had been diagnosed as she was running for re-election in 2016.

Radiation treatments ended just as the 2017 regular session was coming to a close.

Hukill, who represents parts of Brevard and Volusia counties, has been in the state Legislature since 2004, the Senate since 2012.

By Jim Turner.