Gov. Charlie Crist didn't want to talk much Wednesday about a report that he may run for the U.S. Senate as an independent, rather than continue his bid to win the Republican nomination. "I'm really not thinking about the other," Crist said, referring to his Senate primary race against former House Speaker Marco Rubio. "You all may find this hard to believe but I'm fairly consumed with this (legislative issues)." But Crist didn't refute a report in the Wall Street Journal, which quoted his campaign manager saying that the governor would qualify for the Senate race, but not necessarily as a Republican. Crist has until the end of the month to decide. "So I've been informed," Crist chuckled.
Crist signs 'slip and fall' bill
Crist quietly signed into law Wednesday a major priority of retailers that was opposed by trial lawyers, shifting the burden of proof in negligence cases, in so-called slip and fall scenarios. Since a 2002 court ruling, the burden of proving the safety of a business' premises has been on the business, a situation that had retailers complaining that they were essentially guilty of having a dangerous shop until they could show otherwise. Crist signed HB 689 restoring the burden of proof to a person who is injured in a slip and fall case. They now will have to prove the business had knowledge of a dangerous condition and didn't fix it. Crist also signed HB 437, which limits cases in which the attorney general can hire outside lawyers to work on a contingency fee basis to sue deep-pocketed defendants. Trial attorneys who seek to win big payouts at what many Republicans say is the expense of business to an unfair degree have been one of the GOP's biggest targets over the last decade or so.
Huckabee signs up to vote in Florida
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has registered as a voter in Florida where he rents a beach house in the Panhandle. Huckabee and his wife, Janet, completed their registrations as Florida Republicans on Feb. 22.
New father-son team in Legislature
State Sen. Don Gaetz's 28-year-old son, Matt, is joining him in the Florida Legislature after winning a House seat formerly held by Ray Sansom. The younger Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican, is set to be sworn in today. He won a special election Tuesday to replace Sansom, who resigned just before legislative hearings were to be held on an ethics complaint against him.
Associated Press; News Service of Florida