Weatherford wants protesters out after 'stand your ground' poll

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R- Wesley Chapel, said he wants the Dream Defenders protesters to leave the Capitol after the Legislature is polled on the “stand your ground” law.
House Speaker Will Weatherford, R- Wesley Chapel, said he wants the Dream Defenders protesters to leave the Capitol after the Legislature is polled on the “stand your ground” law.
Published Aug. 14, 2013

The Florida Secretary of State's office says it has received enough requests from Democratic lawmakers to trigger a poll of the Legislature on whether a special session should be held to change the state's "stand your ground" law.

Lawmakers have until Monday to fill out forms saying whether they want to convene a special session. Not voting is considered a "no" vote.

Supporters need three-fifths of members of both the House and Senate, a minimum of 96 lawmakers, to trigger a special session.

That would require at least 38 Republicans to sign on, which is unlikely.

A group of demonstrators called the Dream Defenders have been staying at the Capitol since July 16 and have said they would not leave until a special session is called.

"Once this poll concludes, the question of a special session will be final," House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, told the News Service of Florida. "I trust our protesters will accept the results and return the Capitol back to normal business. It's time."

If, somehow, Democrats muster enough support for the special session, it would be convened between Aug. 26 and Sept. 3.

Group promoting Obamacare

Enroll America, the group helping to educate people about the new health care law, now has 27 staffers on the ground in Florida, illustrating how important the state is to the overall viability of Obamacare.

Nick Duran, Florida state director, said in a conference call this week that volunteers have begun making connections with nonprofit health care groups to spread the word. Volunteers have started going door-to-door and plan a blitz at back to school events and on college campuses.

One man went on a Haitian radio show in Miami to discuss the law and got more than 20 phone calls from people wanting to know more, Duran said.

It's a campaign-style outreach, though Enroll America is not an arm of Obama's Organizing for Action, which is doing similar work. They are pushing to inform people as the health care marketplaces under the law begin taking enrollments Oct. 1.

The effort comes as critics of the law are engaged in a counter campaign. Sen. Marco Rubio, for example, is traveling the state this week criticizing the law's effect on businesses.

Scott rips Obama

In a sign that Gov. Rick Scott intends to campaign against President Barack Obama as much as his Democratic challenger, a new fundraising appeal rips the president for "his campaign of destruction in Florida."

"President Obama's reckless agenda is hurting Floridians and I am sick and tired of it," Scott writes.

But as he lashes out at Obama, Scott is trying to create some ill will toward Charlie Crist as well. The Obama-Crist "hug" is depicted with the words "big deficit spenders."

The hug helped erode Crist's standing with Republican party activists and was used effectively by Marco Rubio in the 2010 U.S. Senate campaign.

The question now is, will it work for Scott?

The letter barely mentions Crist, blasting the "Obama-Crist" stimulus that "blew a hole in the annual budget." The Republican-led Legislature, despite the backlash about the federal spending, used billions of stimulus to prop up some lean budget years. In 2011, his first year in office, Scott kept nearly $370 million in stimulus in the budget.

Crist heading to New Orleans

Speaking of Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor will be in Louisiana on Saturday to give the keynote speech at the state Democrats' Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.

Crist already has been making the rounds speaking to Democratic groups in Florida amid growing speculation that he intends to challenge Rick Scott in 2014.

Times staff writer Amy Hollyfield contributed to this week's Buzz.