Dorworth amends controversial bail bondsmen bill -- for now
The absence of two Republicans from the House Criminal Justice Appropriations Committee forced Rep. Chris Dorworth to make a compromise to get a victory on the controversial legislation to restrict pre-trial release programs, which will benefit of the powerful bail bondsmen industry.
Dorworth convinced Democrat Darren Soto of Orlando to sponsor two amendments that removed controversial provisions of the bill (HB445). Chairwoman Sandy Adams later forced a vote and Soto cast the deciding ballot, giving it the edge 6-5. No one expects the bill to remain as amended and Dorworth refused to give his word to keep amendment language, which struck a provision that mandated all defendants in pre-trial release programs must be deemed indigent.
Rep. Juan Zapata, who argued strongly against the bill because minorities would have trouble posting bail, confronted Soto after the meeting, waiving his finger and scolding him in Spanish. The only words we understood: "Puerto Rican."
In the Senate, John Thrasher didn't have the votes in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee to get his version approved, so he temporarily postponed it.