Haridopolos vows to pass Dillon claims bill

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Senate President Mike Haridopolos vowed Tuesday to pass a $1.35 million claims bill for William Dillon, 52, a wrongfully convicted man from Brevard County who spent 27 years in Florida prisons before being released in 2008 when DNA evidence helped clear him, reports the News Service of Florida. The bill (SB 2) will be taken up in the Rules Committee on Wednesday. Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said he hopes to pass it out of the full Senate the first week of the legislative session, along with a claims bill for wheelchair bound Broward County resident Eric Brody. This marks the third time Dillon has tried to collect money from the state to compensate for his wrongful conviction. During the last legislative session, Dillon’s bill, along with the Brody claims bill, got tangled up in last-night legislative political maneuvering between the House and Senate and never passed the House. This year, Haridopolos said he sees no reason not to make it known to the House that it is a priority for him to pass the bill. “The House is very well aware of this bill,” Haridopolos said, saying he didn’t think the house “will want to play games anymore,” and urged them to “do the right thing.” Katie Betta, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, said the bill wasn’t considered in the House last session because it never passed its first committee stop. “Going in to the last night of session, there was no confusion in the House concerning the Dillon bill,” Betta said. “The bill was not eligible to be considered on the House floor on the last night, or at any prior time, because the bill was not reported favorably from its first committee of reference.” Dillon now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and is a country music singer. He said he feels “really positive” the bill will pass this year.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.