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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

No press allowed in press gallery when Gov. Scott is practicing his speech



Florida Gov. Rick Scott is getting ready for his state of the state speech scheduled for Tuesday morning.

But while he was rehearsing in the Florida House chamber — a public meeting space — Monday morning, reporters were blocked from entering the chamber’s press gallery. The gallery is behind a glass partition that separates it from the House floor and is space set aside for journalists to work while reporting in the Capitol.

A Times/Herald photographer and reporter, as well as journalists from other news organizations were told they could not use the gallery after trying to open the doors that had been locked. Members of the House sergeant-at-arms staff blocked the photographer from walking in a public hallway, but House spokesman Michael Williams said: "That was not done by the House. I apologized if that happened. As you know, that is a public space."

Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz apologized for any confusion, and said "we didn't request" that the media be blocked from the House press room.

In a similar incident two years ago, members of the House sergeant-at-arms staff told two Times/Herald journalists to leave the gallery while Scott practiced the speech. This was after Scott’s office asked them to close off the area to the public.

The governor is set to give the state of the state address Tuesday in a joint session of the House and Senate that begins at 11 a.m.

Times Tallahassee bureau chief Steve Bousquet contributed to this post.

[Last modified: Monday, January 11, 2016 12:05pm]


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