Dorothy Hukill

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.

Dorothy Hukill: “Very difficult” watching special session “fall apart”

Hukill
Sen. Dorothy Hukill wasn’t physically inside the Capitol during this year’s two legislative sessions.

But the Port Orange Republican was paying close attention to the hijinks in Tallahassee from afar, thanks to the Florida Channel.

Hukill will share her insights about the 2017 session with the Southeast Volusia Chamber of Commerce Thursday at noon at the Smyrna Yacht Club in New Smyra Beach.

Hukill said given the legislative recap to the group annually since she joined the Legislature more than a decade ago.

“I’m very excited because I love to talk,” Hukill said.

In a wide-ranging interview yesterday, Hukill offered some of her thoughts about the brutal legislative tug-of-war between (depending on what day it was) Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron.

Hukill, a veteran lawmaker who served in the House for eight years before being elected to the Senate in 2012, was unable to travel to Tallahassee this year because she was recovering from cancer.

Hukill, who said she’s received hundreds of cards from well-wishers, said it was hard to watch the sessions from afar, “even though it was probably more work for me this session because I was trying to watch very committee,” she said.

“But watching the special session fall apart and change at the very end — that was very difficult,” she said.

Hukill said she’s “going to try to be positive” about GOP legislative leaders’ ability to just get along in the future.

“People will be able to put those feelings aside,” she predicted. “The bigger picture is we have a job to do. … It was very disappointing.”

A major disappointment for Hukill, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, came when the House refused to sign off on a proposal that would require future high-school students to earn a half-credit in financial literacy before graduation.

The Senate unanimously passed the measure, pursued by Hukill for years, and honored her by naming the bill the “Dorothy L. Hukill Financial Literacy Education Act.” The House never took up the bill for a final vote.

But she’s not giving up.

“I’m filing it next year. It’s already in drafting. It’s something I feel very strongly about. I have supported this idea of financial literacy for students for years,” Hukill said.