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News from Tallahassee for 4/23/14
Speed Limits, Gun Bills Remain in Play posted on 4/16/14
by News Service of Florida
After taking this week off and holding committee meetings Monday and Tuesday, the Florida Senate will face a flurry of bills when it returns to the floor April 23.
The Senate is expected to pass a proposal (HB 7035) that would revamp laws dealing with juvenile sentencing in cases that involve murders or other series felonies. Also, it will begin debating a proposal (SB 392) that could allow speed limits to go as high as 75 mph on some highways.
Senators also are expected to take up two proposals backed by gun-rights advocates.
One of the measures (SB 1060) would prevent schoolchildren from being disciplined for simulating guns while playing or for wearing clothes that depict firearms or express opinions about Second Amendment rights.
Another bill (SB 544) would allow county tax collectors to accept applications for concealed-weapon licenses. Senators also are slated to work on some health-care measures, including a proposal (SB 1150) aimed at boosting "medical tourism."
The House is scheduled to return to the floor Monday, but its calendar does not yet list the bills that will be considered.
Both chambers are off this week for the Passover and Easter holidays.
First Amendment Foundation urges Scott veto of warning shot bill posted on 4/15/14
by john kennedy | Palm Beach Post
A measure that would allow Floridians to fire a warning shot in self-defense should be vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott because it also closes key criminal records from public oversight, the First Amendment Foundation said Monday.
The foundation, which is financed by Florida news organizations, wrote Scott urging that he veto the legislation (CS/HB 89) he is expected to act on this week.
The bill would give those who threaten to use a firearm in self-defense or fire a warning shot instead of fleeing a dangerous situation the same legal safeguards that the state’s “stand your ground” law gives to people who use deadly force to defend themselves.
House advances bill letting people carry concealed weapons without permit in official emergencies posted on 4/10/14
by Palm Beach Post
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida House is scheduled to vote Friday on a bill that allows the public to carry concealed firearms while evacuating their home during an emergency.
Rep. Heather Dawes Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, explained to the chamber Wednesday that her bill (HB 209) would extend carry-and-conceal privileges to those fleeing during a mandatory evacuation declared by the governor or local officials. Individuals, otherwise, must be in compliance with all laws, including having the right to be in possession of a firearm.
“My bill does make it clear that felons are not allowed to carry a firearm,” Fitzenhagen said. “However, this bill is for people who are lawfully allowed to possess a firearm in their home to be able to take that firearm with them when they are evacuating in an emergency.”
Some opponents were concerned the legislation would allow someone to bring firearms into to an emergency shelter, which is often a school.
Fitzenhagen said that is not true because existing laws would continue to take precedent and a person could not bring it anywhere they are not lawfully allowed to.
The Senate version (SB 296) has to clear one more committee before being heard on the floor.
Senate advances bill to allow concealed guns during evacuations posted on 4/9/14
by Steve Bousquet | Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau
TALLAHASSEE — A bill that allows legal gun owners to conceal their weapons without a permit during mandatory evacuations continued to gain support in the Senate Tuesday despite concerns from law enforcement.
The Community Affairs Committee voted 8-1 to pass SB 296, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, that would remove any criminal penalties for those found carrying weapons in public without a permit during evacuations ordered by the governor.
Carrying a concealed firearm without a permit is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to a five years in prison. That's an undue burden on gun owners, said Marion Hammer, the former national president of the National Rifle Association who spoke in support of the bill, along with gun rights group Florida Carry. For them, the bill wasn't just about defending the Second Amendment; it's also a protection for residents left to fend for themselves during a crisis such as a hurricane.
33 notaries face removal by Florida Senate posted on 4/8/14
by Palm Beach Post
TALLAHASSEE — The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee on Monday voted to give the boot to 33 notaries public, following an aggressive move by Gov. Rick Scott against people accused of violating their responsibilities.
The 33 now head to the full Senate, which will consider evidence that they failed to properly handle their duties or had been convicted or had adjudications withheld on charges that disqualified them from holding office.
Two notaries teleconferenced into the committee meeting, getting sworn in over the phone, to contest their removals.
One was William Gladden Jr., a Korean War veteran who uses a wheelchair and is the only notary in his part of Apopka. He admitted he was a “little careless about leaving my (notary) stamps around” but claimed his stamp on fraudulent lease agreement was a forgery. The committee postponed his case to give him an opportunity to reach a deal with Scott’s office.
Gladden’s case prompted Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, to say, “We need to stop wasting our time trying to take away licenses from men in wheelchairs who served our country,” before groans and protests from GOP members of the panel made it difficult for him to finish the statement.
Lawmakers held off on charges in another 28 cases because neither Scott’s office nor the Senate had been able to reach the notaries to notify them of the hearing.
The moves come after an Orlando television station reported in July about problems with the notary public system.
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