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Protesters ring rotunda for Rick Scott’s State of the State speech

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Nearly 200 protesters from South Florida jammed the Capitol’s fourth floor Rotunda as Gov. Rick Scott gave his State of the State address.

The group, part of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, came up in buses and many are being hosted by the First Presbyterian Church downtown.

Its pastor, the Rev. Brant Copeland, wrote in a recent newsletter that his church was “hosting 110 of these visitors on Tuesday and half are spending the night with us.”

Copeland has long been a voice for those caught in the crossfire over immigration reform.

The coalition objects to several bills for the 2016 Legislative Session, spokeswoman Karen Woodall said, including:

HB 9: Creating a third-degree felony for re-entering Florida after being deported from the U.S.

SB 118: Making it a first-degree felony for a person under a deportation order to continue living in Florida.

HB 675: Would, among other things, prohibit “sanctuary cities” like Miami from sheltering undocumented immigrants in the state.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at

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