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Senate Criminal Justice Committee

Jeff Brandes amendment would give felons gun rights

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A restoration of civil rights bill got an amendment from St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes that would give convicts the right to own guns after completing their sentence. SB 934, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Perry Thurston, would automatically restore all other civil rights, such as the right to vote, when a felon completes their sentence, but specifically carves out the right to own firearms. Thurston argues in the bill that automatic restoration helps felons reintegrate into society and takes…

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Bill on unanimous jury for death sentence clears first panel

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

A bill requiring a unanimous jury recommendation for a death sentence was OK’d by a Senate panel Monday. The legislation (SB 280) was cleared unanimously by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. It’s sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Randolph Bracy of Ocoee, the panel’s chair. Monday’s vote comes as a staff analysis said death penalty cases in Florida “have essentially ground to a halt.” In 2016, the Legislature passed and Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill requiring at least 10 of the 12…

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Proposed legislation could break the cycle of debt for many caught in Florida’s legal system

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

It’s a vicious circle: Poor people who can’t afford their court-related costs and penalties incur escalating costs for not paying, further indebting them to the state. “It’s a circle that some people get stuck in and they can’t get out,” Christopher Torres, a Tallahassee defense attorney and former Florida assistant attorney general, told Watchdog.org. Compounding the problem is the state’s practice of suspending drivers’ licenses as both a punishment for delinquent payments and an incentive to get people to pay up. For those…

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Guns-in-airports bill resurfaces for 2017 Legislative Session

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A Florida House member has reintroduced legislation that would allow people to carry firearms inside airport terminals. State Rep. Jake Raburn, a Lithia Republican, filed HB 6001 on Wednesday. The measure would eliminate the words “passenger terminal” of airports from a list of places where state law forbids people to carry guns. The measure also would eliminate language requiring that guns be “encased for shipment” in aircraft baggage holds. Raburn submitted his proposal for the 2017 legislative session. He proposed…

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Darren Soto stands with the NRA

in Peter by

Scoring political points in the immediate aftermath of tragedy is nothing new. The response to the Orlando shooting will surely provide numerous examples in the days ahead, but thanks to Sen. Darren Soto, we already have one of our most egregious examples. Soto, who is currently running for Congress, announced that he will hold a news conference tomorrow to announce a thus-unspecified “tactical proposal to prevent future tragedies” and call for a special legislative session. Legislative leaders immediately slammed Soto’s call for a special session.…

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Legislators promise to keep death penalty, fix law

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Saying it’s time to put the “death penalty” debate to rest, the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature began taking its first steps Wednesday to find a way to preserve executions in the state. State senators spent hours with prosecutors, former judges, and defenders to come up with a way to respond to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. The nation’s highest court earlier this month found that Florida’s death penalty procedure is flawed because it allows judges — not juries — to…

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Senate committee passes bill limiting drone surveillance without consent

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On Monday, a Senate committee approved the bill regulating drones used to take photos without consent. If passed, violations would carry a $5,000 fine. Distribution of the picture would cost the drone operator $10,000. Even though the Federal Aviation Administration expects to issue guidelines governing drones, officially known as unmanned aerial vehicles, Florida is among more than a dozen states not waiting on federal regulations. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee unanimously passed SB 1178, to protect Floridians from those swarming bug-size robots equipped with…

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