Richard Herring has 35-years experience in Florida government, including 26 years with the Legislature. Over the last 20 years, he has been directly involved with researching and analyzing many of the states major policy initiatives, with a focus on the state's financial issues.

From 2007 through 2010, Richard served as special counsel to Senate President Ken Pruitt and Senate President Jeff Atwater. During that time he worked on a wide variety of issues including, among others, property and automobile insurance, gaming, property taxation, ethics, response to the gulf oil spill, sovereign immunity, commuter rail, sovereign lands, the state revenue cap, trade secrets, and state bonding.

Before serving as Special Counsel, he was the deputy staff director and attorney in the Senate Ways and Means Committee (for 4 years) and in the House Appropriations Committee (for 12 years). Richard has substantial expertise in the legal requirements related to proviso, implementing bills, and conforming bills. He has also served as staff director and attorney in several other House committees.

Prior to his legislative service, Richard had 9 years experience with the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, working in programs that are now the Agency for Persons with Disabilities and the Department of Juvenile Justice. He is a member of The Florida Bar, admitted in 1975, after graduating from the University of Florida.

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           The Florida Budget Process

In this seminar designed for budget novices, we explain how Florida puts its budget together, give you a thorough understanding of the key decision points, and explain the rules that control the process. This seminar can be delivered as a one-hour, two-hour, or four-hour presentation. The four-hour version contains ample opportunity for participant interaction, including actually facing the dilemma that faces Senators and Representatives building a budget.

Click here for seminar outline

Click here for preparation list for participants

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------          General Appropriations Act Proviso

While everyone thinks of Florida's GAA as the law that sets specific amounts of state funds that will be spent each year on the state's many programs and services, the GAA is not just made up of numbers.  It also contains many pages of text, scattered throughout the document.  This text, known as proviso, establishes restrictions or limitations on specific appropriations and is in addition to any statutory requirements that may apply.  Understanding proviso, why it is necessary, how it gets in the GAA, and when it may or may not be used, requires an understanding of the case law going back anywhere from 130 years to a mere 30 years.  We have analyzed all the cases, understand how they relate or conflict, know which are still "good" law, and can help to navigate the seemingly complex maze they create.

Click here for relevant Florida cases (5/5/2011)

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          Sharing Information

For many issues, it is not solutions we seek but understanding.  On December 6, 2010, Richard, while still serving as Special Counsel to the Florida Senate, gave an hour-long presentation (broadcast on the Florida Channel) on ethics and several related issues in the Senate Chamber. The materials prepared for that presentation are available from the Senate. Richard's prepared comments covered the important points, using specific examples, while still providing enough depth to do justice to the subject.

Click here for talking points/notes

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          Funding for Florida's Courts

[W]e note that even absent the constitutional infirmities of chapter 216, any substantial reductions of the judicial budget can raise constitutional concerns of the highest order. This Court has an independent duty and authority as a constitutionally coequal and coordinate branch of the government of the State of Florida to guarantee the rights of the people to have access to a functioning and efficient judicial system.[11] Article I, section 21 of the Florida Declaration of Rights provides that "[t]he courts shall be open to every person for redress of any injury, and justice shall be administered without sale, denial or delay."

Click here to read the full opinion:

Chiles v. Children A-F, 589 So.2d 260 (Fla. 1991)

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  Property Insurance Availability and Affordability

Solving to Florida's property insurance woes will require an array of tools.  Many will not be popular - there is, simply, no long-term win-win scenario.  In 2006, one of us, who had not worked on property insurance issues before, was asked to think "outside the box" and, after a couple weeks of reading, talking, and thinking, produced a list of things to consider.  This was not a proposed solution, but an attempt t put a broad array of issues on the table to stimulate discussion.

Click here to see an example of "outside-the-box" analysis

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------           Thinking Outside The Box

Thinking outside the box is not a matter of asking silly, uninformed or irrelevant questions. Instead, it is the systematic understanding of the issue or problem to be solved (not necessarily the one presented) and the exploration of, sometimes novel, ways to address the issue or solve the problem in the most effective, efficient and lasting way.

We can read about George de Mestral, the Swiss engineer who invented Velcro. Returning from a hunting trip, he studies the burdock burrs that were stuck to his dogs fur and to his clothes. We can imagine de Mestral asking himself “Why/how do these annoying little seeds stick to my pants when I walk through the woods?” Now we have hooks and loops as the solution to many problems.

How about the inventor of the pull tab who asked “What in nature opens easily? A banana. How can a banana be a model for opening a can?” Or the original use of product rebates from the question “What if we paid our customers to buy our products?” These examples are discussed by Micheal J. Gelb in How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci.

A systematic approach to thinking outside the box involves the 5 (6?) W's that form the basis of good news, research and investigations: what, when, who, how, where and why.

WHAT is the issue or problem presented?
WHAT are its components?
WHAT are we sure we know about this?
WHAT biases do we have about this issue or problem?
WHAT will happen if we do nothing?
WHAT alternatives have we failed to consider?
WHAT problems might arise if we address this issue or solve this problem?

WHEN did the issue or problem arise?
WHEN does this issue or problem NOT arise?
WHEN will the consequences of a failure to act be felt?
WHEN must this be addressed or solved?

WHO cares about issue or problem?
WHO is affected by this?
WHO created the issue or problem or perpetuates it?
WHO can help address or solve it?
WHO opposes addressing it?

HOW did this start/happen?
HOW can we get more objective information?
HOW do we know our existing or future information is true or valid?
HOW can we look at this issue or problem from a new perspective?
HOW can this issue or problem be restated?
HOW will we know it has been addressed or solved?

WHERE does this happen?
WHERE did this begin?
WHERE haven't we looked?
WHERE is the issue or problem most prevalent?

WHY is this issue or problem important?
WHY did this start?
WHY does this continue?
WHY are we the ones trying to solve it?
WHY has it not been addressed before?

Thinking outside the box can provide valuable ways of looking at daily events. A practical, everyday application of this occurs when your kids come home from school. You probably ask “What did you do in school today?” And they answer “ Nothing.” Instead try “What did you ask in school today?” You can even followup with "Why did you ask that?" or "How did the teacher answer?"
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