TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist will fill the last of four open seats on the Florida Supreme Court at a morning news conference Wednesday while the debate in the Legislature turns to open records, property taxes and dismantling growth management laws.
Crist is expected to announce his selection of Circuit Judge James Perry of Sanford to replace retiring Justice Charlie Wells.
Perry, the first black judge in Central Florida's 18th Circuit, is the pick of civil rights leaders and trial lawyers who admire his rise out of the Jim Crow South. But he is not the favorite of the NRA and tort reform advocates and social conservatives who had hoped for a more conservative-leaning judge who has a record on the criminal bench.
It's the fourth pick for Crist on the seven-member court.
Also today, three Senate leaders will announce their Transparency Florida Initiative at the Capitol — a plan to force agency contracts into the open by posting them on the Internet. Sens. Alex de la Portilla, J.D. Alexander and Mike Haridopolos are behind the measure.
The House Finance and Military Affairs and Local Policy Council continues where a Senate committee left off and takes up a series of constitutional amendments to reduce property taxes. The proposals are expected to get watered down as the two-month session progresses, however, as legislators try to balance the needs of local government with the crushing state economy.
The same committee will take up a plan to merge the Department of Community Affairs with the Department of State in an attempt to reduce state oversight of growth management.
Finally, a Senate committee will take up a bill to put a constitutional amendment before voters to ease the requirement of the state's class size initiative.
Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at meklas@MiamiHerald.com.