Lobbyists Setting Up Camp in Tallahassee

The Capitol's no stranger to impassioned rallies. From the occupy movement to immigrants and teachers, they make their voices heard, but rarely do they stick around... until now.

Gail Marie Perry and Minerva Faire are part of a new wave of citizen lobbyists. They plan to be in Tallahassee throughout the entire legislative session to fight for their family, their friends and people they complain don't have a voice.

"The corporations are actually writing the legislation that's being passed, and the billionaires are getting what they want through the legislation, and working people are getting their unemployment cut - they have to jump through hoops and barrels," said Gail Marie.

That's a problem Minerva knows all too well. She's been furloughed from her job, giving her all the more time to spend here at the Capitol fighting for a bigger unemployment check, not to mention more money for education and health care. But, she has competition.

A band of tea partiers are here as citizen lobbyists, too. Unlike Gail Marie and Minerva, they're calling on lawmakers to hold the line on spending and regulation. They appear to have a champion in Governor Rick Scott.

"We have a $69 billion state budget," the governor said. "If those were business dollars, you'd say, 'I'm gonna allocate those dollars where I can get the best return'."

In the end, both brands of amateur lobbyists are here because they're unhappy about the direction of their economy and their government, including the critical decisions about to be made by their lawmakers.

Many *professional lobbyists tell News 4 privately it's becoming more difficult for them to get a word in with lawmakers. A big reason for that is that many of the citizen lobbyists are plugged into an active network of voters back home.

During the upcoming session, both progressive and conservative citizen lobbyists plan to zero in on the state budget. Lawmakers could be facing a deficit of up to two billion dollars, and that could lead to a food fight over which programs to cut and which to keep.

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