Friday, February 23, 2018
Politics

Les Miller regrets 'stand your ground' vote

Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller was one of 14 Senate Democrats who unanimously approved the "stand your ground" law in 2005, but he says it's the one vote he most regrets in his 14-year career as a legislator.

"People are dying because of the 'stand your ground' law," Miller said. "It was a bad bill. Out of all the votes I had, that's the one I wish I could do over again."

Miller and others sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott on Monday asking him to call a special session to focus on the law. Until Sunday's Times/Herald story about the lawmakers who approved it eight years ago, Miller hadn't had to publicly explain his vote. It passed the Senate 39-0 and the House 94-20.

He told the Buzz he voted for SB 436 after Senate Democrats discussed it. At the time, there were six lawyers in the caucus and they assessed the bill to be legitimate.

"I'm not at an attorney," Miller said. "So we relied on the advice of our staff and the lawyers in the caucus."

Miller, who was the Senate Democratic leader at the time, said the caucus concluded that the bill added a "stand your ground" defense for those in their homes or on their properties. At the time, Miller said, he had heard stories about people who defended themselves against people breaking into their homes, only to face prosecution later.

Why didn't Miller and other Senate Democrats echo the concerns raised by House Democrats like Arthenia Joyner, Dan Gelber and Jack Seiler that the "stand your ground" law was dangerous and would lead to greater violence and more confusion with prosecutors?

Miller said he doesn't know why, and chalked it up to the confusion of session, when it's difficult for the leaders of the two chambers to meet.

"Because of the session, because of the timing, we're meeting at different times," Miller said. "If we would have been able to sit down at the table and bring the House amendments over, it would have been a different vote. I wish we would have had different information. I wish I could do it again."

Gov. Grandfather

Gov. Rick Scott is a grandfather for the second time, his office announced Monday.

But don't necessarily ask the governor to rattle off the newborn's name.

Scott posted the news on Twitter Monday evening, saying that he and his wife, Ann Scott, welcome "our new grandson, Quinton Pierre Georges Guimard, born today at 5:57pm, weighing 6 lbs. 13 oz."

On Tuesday morning, Scott and his wife returned to Twitter to say that the newborn is named Quinton Pierre Phillipe.

By the end of the day, the Scotts were back to Georges.

The child is the second son of Scott's oldest daughter, Allison Guimard.

Times staff writer Aaron Sharockman contributed to this week's Buzz.

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