Thursday, June 21, 2018
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.

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