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Monday, March 06, 2017
STAND YOUR GROUND - THE 2017 LEGISLATIVE SESSION IS OPEN .....
THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
BANG, BANG, YOU'RE DEAD .......
Florida's Stand Your Ground law could dominate the front page of newspapers later this week with the start of the legislative session set for tomorrow.
On Tuesday, March 7, the Florida Legislature opens its 2017 Spring session. The session is scheduled to last for 60 days and should end on May 5, 2017. On Tuesday morning, Governor Scott will give his State of the State speech to a joint session of the Florida House and Senate.
If you have not been following the show that has been taking place in Tallahassee over the past two months, then you have been really missing the fun. You may have thought that with the Republicans having a Governor, all four cabinets members, and an overwhelming majority in both the House and the Senate in place, they had planned on running roughshod over their Democratic rivals. If you thought that, you would be wrong.
Instead, it appears much more likely that they will make every effort to run each other over during the next two months. Driving the lead cars will be Governor Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R-Land O' Lakes) and Senate President Joe Negron (R-Stuart). According to most insiders, this is setting up to be the most mean-spirited, marathon battle of an uncivil war, as ugly as anything the state has seen in a long time.
Corcoran fired the first shots by pushing to end two of Governor Scott's biggest priorities: Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. Scott is pushing for $85 million for Enterprise Florida and $76 million for Visit Florida for the budget year that begins July 1. Enterprise Florida's objective is to promote Florida as a premier business destination to a targeted audience of corporate decision makers and site selectors, and encourage them to select the state for their next location, relocation or expansion project. Of course, in order to do that, the State uses that $85m to lure the businesses to Florida. Corcoran calls it corporate welfare. Visit Florida is the tourism arm that funds programs to attract more tourists to Florida. They were in the news recently when it was revealed that they paid pop superstar Pitbull $1 million to promote tourism in Florida. As a result of Corcoran and a lawsuit he filed against Visit Florida, demanding that they reveal the previously sealed contract with Pitbull, the CEO of Visit Florida was forced to resign.
Scott has been traveling the State holding town hall style meetings in an effort to boost support to the two programs. Where did he choose to hold the meetings. In every city where a house member that voted against his two programs resided. Corcoran has been issuing nasty tweets, slash-and-burn videos, and all other forms of medium to trash the Governor and his two programs. Scott has funded a robo-call campaign blasting the House Speaker. The two men are not speaking to each other. The Orlando Sentinel wrote about the feud here. The Tampa Bay Times said of the feud, "it involves philosophical differences, personal animosity and political ambition, all of which have had the state capital teetering on the edge of dysfunction for weeks."
Corcoran has also picked fights with lobbyists and with President Negron of the Senate as they have butted heads on several new rules that Corcoran instituted under his leadership. The lobbying changes include no longer allowing House members to text with them during official meetings; not allowing members to enter formal business deals with registered lobbyists; no longer allowing members to fly on a lobbyist-owned plane; and, the creation of a six-year lobby ban when members leave office. The Sun Sentinel wrote an excellent editorial on Corcoran that can be found here.
Both Scott and Corcoran will be seeking higher office in 2018. Scott is likely to challenge Senator Bill Nelson, while Corcoran is looking at a wide open Governor's race.
STAND YOUR GROUND ..............
In what may become the first bill up for a vote in both chambers this week, there could be a dramatic change to the STAND YOUR GROUND law in Florida.
House Bill 245 (and it's companion SB 128) aim to place the full burden of proof on the State Attorney. ASA's and criminal defense lawyers know all too well that the current system places the initial burden on the Defense to establish that SYG should result in the dismissal of charges against your client.
To read HB 245, you can find that by going here. Florida Politics covers the story here and the Miami Herald covered it here.
What are your thoughts, not only as an ASA or criminal defense lawyer, but how do you feel as a citizen, that the law might change. As you are pondering your answers to those questions, think about this fact:
According to a recent study published in JAMA, homicides in Florida increased 21 percent — from an average of 82 homicides per month from 1999 to October 2005 to 99 homicides per month from October 2005 to 2014. What happened in 2005 - Florida's first SYG law was passed. ABC news covered the story here while NBC news covered it here.
With the burden of proof shifting entirely to the State if these bills pass and are signed into law by the Governor, don't you think those numbers will rise even further?
CAPTAIN OUT .....