Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Politics

Democratic senator forms 'stand your ground' task force

TALLAHASSEE — State Sen. Chris Smith, frustrated by what he calls "stalling" by Gov. Rick Scott following the shooting death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin, is launching a task force to review the controversial law at the center of the case.

"Instead of waiting on the governor to act, I've decided to lead in the state of Florida," the Fort Lauderdale Democrat said Tuesday. "I've assembled a task force to look at the controversial 'stand your ground' law."

The governor created a task force to review "stand your ground" two weeks ago but has said the group will not convene until after the investigation into the Martin shooting is completed.

Smith wanted faster action. His South Florida-based task force, made up of legal professionals and law enforcement officers, will hold its first meeting on Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Broward County Main Library.

Smith said local judges, attorneys and tourism officials will present to the task force on Thursday, to show how the controversial law — which allows people to use deadly force when they are threatened — has impacted the state.

On the task force are Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, Miami-Dade public defender Carlos Martinez, Broward State Attorney Mike Satz, former Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale police Chief Frank Adderley, criminal defense attorney Alfreda Coward, legal scholar Zachary Weaver and several others. Although most of the task force members are Democrats, Smith said he did not consider politics when putting together the group.

Smith also announced a new website to solicit public comment: FloridaStandYourGround.org.

Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, will present a letter to the task force Thursday, laying out how Florida's tourism industry could be harmed by the negative coverage the state is receiving. "One of the things you hope for in this job is very positive news," she said. "No bad news headlines, no hurricanes. Any one of those can disrupt your business."

Informed of Smith's decision to start a task force, Scott maintained his position that the state should look into the law after the Martin case is settled. "We should always look at things like this, but the first thing you do is you do an investigation," he said. "You make sure justice prevails, and then you step back and say 'Okay, what did we learn from this?' "

Smith, who voted against the 2005 law, disagrees. "It's time to get to work," said Smith, who believes the law can be examined independent of the Martin case. "We have a governor who ran on getting to work, but he wants to wait to work."

Times/Herald reporter Steve Bousquet contributed to this story.

Comments
Trump signs $700 billion military budget into law

Trump signs $700 billion military budget into law

WASHINGTON ó President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed into law a sweeping defense policy bill that authorizes a $700 billion budget for the military, including additional spending on missile defense programs to counter North Koreaís growing nuclear w...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Donald Trump Jr. demands inquiry of House Intelligence Committee leak

Donald Trump Jr. demands inquiry of House Intelligence Committee leak

WASHINGTON ó Donald Trump Jr., the presidentís eldest son, has asked the House Intelligence Committee to open an investigation into leaked information related to his closed interview with the committee last week."To maintain the credibility of the in...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Original Watergate lock that burglars picked open is going to auction

Original Watergate lock that burglars picked open is going to auction

WASHINGTON -ó Itís the lock that launched a two-year investigation and took down a president. And now more than four decades later ó and for a starting bid of $50,000 ó it can be a really wonky conversation piece.Nate D. Sanders Auctions will auction...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Democrats say Trumpís tweets about Gillibrand sexist, unsavory

Democrats say Trumpís tweets about Gillibrand sexist, unsavory

WASHINGTON ó Plowing into the sexual harassment debate in a big way, President Donald Trump laced into Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday, tweeting that the New York Democrat would come to his office "begging" for campaign contributions and "do anyth...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Obama, Biden and Trump make late pushes in Alabama Senate race

Obama, Biden and Trump make late pushes in Alabama Senate race

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ó National political leaders, a Hollywood actress and a retired basketball star made last-ditch efforts to woo voters in the Alabama Senate race Monday, as the candidates gave their final arguments in a pivotal special election that ...
Published: 12/12/17
PolitiFact: Looking back at the Trump teamís falsehoods of 2017

PolitiFact: Looking back at the Trump teamís falsehoods of 2017

President Donald Trump made many inaccurate statements in 2017. His White House team seems to be following in his footsteps when defending him. Some of Trumpís staffers have made the argument that it is valid to use inaccurate facts to bolster larger...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17
PolitiFact: Notable misstatements about Donald Trump from 2017

PolitiFact: Notable misstatements about Donald Trump from 2017

President Donald Trump’s words can be at odds with reality, a fact we’ve documented again and again during his first year in office. His claim that the Trump-Russia investigation is a "made-up story" earned Trump our 2017 Lie of the Year....
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17
Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

TAMPA ó With the Republican tax bill poised to eliminate the opportunity, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority on Monday said it had refinanced a big chunk of its debt to save money in the future.The authority borrowed $152 million from the bo...
Published: 12/11/17
Alabama Senate race, unlikely nail biter, races to finish line

Alabama Senate race, unlikely nail biter, races to finish line

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ó In a blur of television ads, conflicting polls and presidential tweets, Doug Jones and Roy Moore raced Monday to make their final pleas in Alabamaís special election for the Senate, with both candidates focused on turning out their...
Published: 12/11/17
As tax plan gained steam, GOP lost focus on the middle class

As tax plan gained steam, GOP lost focus on the middle class

The GOP tax plan on the cusp of becoming law diverges wildly from the promises President Trump and top advisers said they would deliver for the middle class ó an evolution that shows how traditional Republican orthodoxy swamped Trumpís distinctive br...
Published: 12/10/17