School guns bill suffers setback in Florida Senate

Published March 31, 2015

A contentious proposal that would let designated teachers bring their guns to school suffered a serious setback Tuesday when a Senate panel declined to vote on it.

Because the Senate Education Committee won't meet again, the bill (SB 180) won't have another opportunity for a committee hearing. It could still be incorporated into another proposal, but Senate Education Committee Chairman John Legg said he would raise strong objections.

"It would be a large lift knowing that the Education Committee (deferred) it," he said.

The Trinity Republican said he has "significant concerns" with the bill, which would allow school employees with law enforcement or military experience to carry concealed weapons on school property.

"Deputizing private citizens to protect a school is not an avenue I want to go down," he said.

Both the Senate and House are considering a separate proposal that would allow permitted individuals to carry concealed weapons on college campuses (SB 176/HB 4005).

The so-called campus carry bill has found support in both chambers. Legg says he supports the proposal because it is about "individual protection."

College presidents and police chiefs say the campus carry bill is just as dangerous as its K-12 counterpart. And Tuesday, the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety and the Florida Chapter of Moms Demand Action released a poll showing 61 percent of Floridians oppose allowing concealed weapons on campuses.

"We already know campus police, college presidents, faculty, and students stand against this legislation," said Chryl Anderson, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action. "This is more evidence that the legislators who support these dangerous bills are out of touch with what Floridians really want."

Crist to consult

Former Republican governor and Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist is getting into the consulting business. He and Orlando investor Bob Poe, the Democratic fundraiser, former state party chairman and chairman of the Charlie Crist for Florida political committee, recently created a St. Petersburg-based company — C2&P LLC — that Poe said is for business consulting. Crist continues to work at the personal injury firm of Morgan & Morgan.

PSC bill advances

A move to enact a number of reforms at the Florida Public Service Commission, including term limits for commissioners, cleared a House panel Tuesday. The House Government Operations Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously supported a measure (HB 7109) that would limit future PSC members to three consecutive terms, require commissioners to undergo annual ethics training and require people lobbying the utility-regulating commission to register as lobbyists. The bill also would prevent electric utilities from charging higher rates through the extension of billing cycles.

Adam C. Smith and the News Service of Florida contributed.