In presidential primary, State aims for No. 5
Senate President Mike Haridopolos said Wednesday he supports Florida holding the fifth-in-the-nation presidential primary in 2012, as the first megastate to help choose a Republican presidential nominee. The Merritt Island lawmaker and history professor said he didn't think Florida should risk sanctions from the GOP such as the loss of delegates by jumping ahead of the early states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. "Our perspective, and I believe Sen. (Marco) Rubio shares this perspective, is we're not looking to go first or second or even third or fourth," Haridopolos said. "Our goal is usually to be No. 1; we want to be No. 5. I'm okay with No. 5. So the idea is, how do we make us No. 5. We do not want to lose delegates, obviously." He said he has not discussed a primary-date strategy with House Speaker Dean Cannon or Gov. Rick Scott.
Tort reform brakes car crash ruling
In a victory for carmakers and a setback for plaintiffs' lawyers, the Florida Senate approved a so-called crashworthiness doctrine in applying fault in product liability cases. SB 142 passed on a 28-12 vote, with all Republicans but one voting yes and all Democrats but one voting no. Sen. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne, voted no and Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, voted yes. The bill overrules a Florida Supreme Court decision, D'Amario vs. Ford Motor Co., and is the first major tort reform measure of the 2011 session. "When the Supreme Court is wrong," said Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, "it is incumbent on the Legislature to reverse what they did." Jurors will be required to consider other facts in deciding fault, including whether a driver was impaired at the time of a crash. "This is about common sense. We should not disrespect the jury. We should put the facts on the table so a jury can hear them," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples.
Restaurateur won't back gift ban bill
Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, is not sponsoring a bill to repeal the gift ban legislation proposed by Sen. Dennis Jones. Patronis said the restaurant industry talked to him about sponsoring it, but he never agreed to it. Jones, R-Seminole, filed the bill this year, his last term in office, because he believes it has had a destructive effect on the ability of constituents to meet with their legislators. Patronis, a restaurateur, said he sympathizes with the Tallahassee restaurant industry which says the ban on anyone buying a legislator dinner or a cup of coffee has had an adverse impact on business. Patronis' decision not to co-sponsor the bill leaves Jones without a sponsor in the House.
Rubio to address tea party activists
Sen. Rubio will speak at the Indian River Tea Party gathering March 25 in Vero Beach, continuing his effort to get reconnected with the grass roots activists who provided early support for his campaign. In April, Rubio will appear at a tax day rally in Tampa.
Times/Herald staff writers Steve Bousquet, Mary Ellen Klas and Alex Leary contributed to this report.