Sunday, December 17, 2017
Politics

House Speaker Dean Cannon wants to wait and see in Trayvon Martin case

Rep. Dwayne Taylor, D-Daytona Beach, has asked Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, to call a special session for review of Florida's "stand your ground" self-defense laws. Meanwhile, other black lawmakers are saying any action, including a task force appointed by the governor, should begin immediately.

Cannon's office said he disagrees with those requests because too many unanswered questions remain about Trayvon Martin's death.

"Speaker Cannon feels that legislative action is premature at this point given the ongoing investigations as well as the upcoming convening of the Seminole County grand jury," spokeswoman Katie Betta said via email. "Speaker Cannon will be closely monitoring the situation and any new developments that may arise in the case. He will also make recommendations to Gov. (Rick) Scott regarding appointments to the Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection which will review the 'Stand Your Ground' law after the investigation by the special prosecutor."

African-American lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have said they would like to serve on the task force that will be convened by Scott. Democratic Sens. Gary Siplin of Orlando, Oscar Braynon of Miami Gardens, Arthenia Joyner of Tampa, and Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale have either asked to be named to the committee or been recommended by someone.

Scott has said he doesn't want the work to begin until the Martin investigation is finished.

More balance seen in new map

A Times/Herald analysis of the new congressional map submitted by Florida Democrats on Monday in Leon County Circuit Court shows that the proposed districts would create 13 Republican-leaning districts, 11 Democrat-leaning districts and three swing districts. That compares to the map created by the Legislature that creates 16 GOP-leaning districts and nine Democrat-leading districts with only two swing districts.

More significantly, the map shifts the sprawling congressional district of U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown of Jacksonville into a more compact district, creates more minority districts than the Legislature's map and does it without reducing the minority population in Brown's map — leaving it at 48.9 percent black voting age population.

Republicans have argued the new Fair Districts amendments prevent the state from reducing the opportunity for an African-American in Brown's district to elect an African-American, regardless of other minority seats being created. How Circuit Judge Terry Lewis rules on this point could be pivotal.

The map was submitted as part of the Florida Democratic Party's lawsuit challenging the congressional plan. The Times/Herald analysis is based on voting data and elections results from the 2008 presidential race and the 2010 governor's race.

Tea party opposes 12th school

Gov. Scott should stick to his message of limited government and fiscal restraint and veto bills that would create a 12th university, adjust state and local Medicaid funding and call for a $100,000 study into merging the Hillsborough and Pinellas transit systems — at least, according to the Tea Party Network.

Made up of 86 local groups, the Tea Party Network weighed in on the legislation in a letter to Scott on Monday.

Their message on the new Florida Polytechnic, a pet project of Senate budget chairman JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, almost echoes what Scott said throughout session: that he wasn't sure Florida could afford a 12th university.

"Our higher education schools are already under funding pressure, and splitting the pot further is counterproductive to the quality of the institutions," the letter says.

Times staff writers Darla Cameron and Kim Wilmath contributed to this report.

Comments
Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

WASHINGTON — Closing in on the first major legislative achievement of his term, President Donald Trump on Saturday defended the Republican tax cut as a good deal for the middle class while boldly suggesting it could lead to explosive economic growth....
Published: 12/16/17
Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Sometime soon, members of the Florida House will be asked to consider a solution for bullying in public schools. It’s a dubious idea based on the premise that students should flee their tormenters, and use voucher funds to attend a private school of ...
Published: 12/16/17
CDC gets list of forbidden words: ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘evidence-based’

CDC gets list of forbidden words: ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘evidence-based’

Trump administration officials are forbidding officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases - including "fetus" and "transgender" - in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.Polic...
Published: 12/16/17
Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

A Democratic candidate hoping to flip a hotly contested congressional seat in Kansas has dropped out of the race after allegations that she sexually harassed a male subordinate resurfaced amid her campaign.Andrea Ramsey, 57, who was running to unseat...
Published: 12/16/17
Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress have blended separate tax bills passed by the House and Senate into compromise legislation that seeks to achieve a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax code. GOP leaders are looking toward passage of the final pa...
Published: 12/15/17
Updated: 12/16/17
With Rubio, Corker back on board, GOP speeds ahead with tax plan

With Rubio, Corker back on board, GOP speeds ahead with tax plan

WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers on Friday secured enough votes to pass the most sweeping tax overhaul in decades, putting them on the cusp of their first significant legislative victory this year as party leaders geared up to pass a $1.5 trillion t...
Published: 12/15/17
Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

TAMPA — Nearly 600,000 more people will live in Hillsborough County by 2040, and if elected officials and county planners don’t take bold steps now, the population boom will turn the county into the soulless sprawl of Anywhere, U.S.A.That’s the messa...
Published: 12/15/17
Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

WASHINGTON — America’s top diplomat stepped back Friday from his offer of unconditional talks with North Korea, telling world powers that the nuclear-armed nation must earn the right to negotiate with the United States. Secretary of State Rex Tillers...
Published: 12/15/17
Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

A federal judge Friday said a bail package has been put together that would release former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort from home confinement in his condominium in Virginia and allow him to reside at his house in Palm Beach Gardens, but unde...
Published: 12/15/17
The meta-soap opera of Omarosa Manigault’s White House exit

The meta-soap opera of Omarosa Manigault’s White House exit

WASHINGTON — As the spooling drama of Omarosa Manigault Newman’s White House departure spun into its 36th hour, Washington began asking itself: "Does it actually matter whether Omarosa quit or was fired?"Dumbest story ever," tweeted John Harwood, the...
Published: 12/15/17