Lawmakers return for Senate map special session, committee meetings

Tia Mitchell | Florida Times Union | 10/19/2015

TALLAHASSEE | The Florida Legislature is convening this morning to begin a special session to redraw the Senate Senate map. At the same time, lawmakers will be holding already scheduled committee meetings ahead of the 2016 session that begins in January.

This afternoon, redistricting staffers will appear at a joint meeting of the House and Senate redistricting committees to explain how they drew six base maps that the Legislature will use as launching points for the three-week special session. The maps have to be drawn again because the Senate admitted earlier this year it violated anti-gerrymandering laws in two previous redistricting sessions.

While that process unfolds, legislative committees will continue to meet and consider various bills proposed. Among the items up for discussion this week:

■ Two high-profile gun bills will get hearing in the Senate on Tuesday morning. The Criminal Justice Committee will consider Senate Bill 300, which would allow people with concealed weapon permits to carry their firearms openly in public. The Higher Education Subcommittee will hear SB 68, which allows concealed-carry licensees to bring their guns on public college and university campuses.

■ Lucy McBath, the mother of slain Jacksonville teenager Jordan Davis, will testify on Tuesday against a proposal that changes the state’s Stand Your Ground law in a way that critics say would benefit defendants. Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, is the sponsor of SB 344, which would require the prosecution to disprove self-defense claims when defendants asks for immunity to avoid trial. Bradley said his goal is to put the burden of proof on the prosecution as it is in most criminal proceedings, but opponents say the bill will make it easier for people to successfully claim they were “standing their ground,” especially in incidents where other eyewitnesses were killed.

■ Tax cuts and economic incentives will be discussed in various committees throughout the week. Gov. Rick Scott wants the Legislature to permanently eliminate the sales tax manufacturers pay on equipment, but lawmakers have indicated they may not go as far as Scott wants because they want to free up dollars for other budget priorities.

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