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Florida Action Report! 3 Big WINS for Gun Owners as Session Ends

Monday, May 8, 2017

DATE: May 8, 2017
TO: USF & NRA Members and Friends
FROM: Marion P. Hammer
  USF Executive Director
  NRA Past President

Three important bills passed this session and are headed for the Governor's desk:

SB-128 Burden of Proof by Sen. Rob Bradley (and Rep. Bobby Payne)  Restores the presumption of innocence in self-defense cases by putting the burden of proof BACK ON THE STATE where it belongs. The bill was amended by the House to lower the standard of evidence in the immunity hearing from "beyond all reasonable doubt" to "clear and convincing."  SB-128 then PASSED the House 74-39 and was sent back to the Senate.  The Senate then PASSED it 22-14.

SB-1052 Justifiable Use of Force by Sen. David Simmons (and Rep. Cord Byrd) is a glitch bill to fix a drafting error made by legislative staff in a 2014 bill dealing with the Castle Doctrine law.  It is a very important bill because the error has been interpreted to mean that a person must be under attack in his/her own home before exercising self-defense. This bill corrects that drafting error. SB-1052 PASSED the House 77-41 and the Senate PASSED it 23-14.

HB-467 CW License Fees by Rep. Jake Raburn (and Sen. Dana Young) is a 56 page Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services agency bill that contains language to reduce the license fees for a Concealed Weapons and Firearms License.  An initial 7-year license fee is reduced from $60 to $55 and a 7-year renewal license is reduced from $50 to $45.  HB-467 PASSED the House 117-0 and PASSED the Senate 35-1

Below is a news article that discusses the closing hours of session (reprinted with permission)

News Service Florida Alert System: 5/5/2017



THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, May 5, 2017......... A change to the state's “stand your ground” self-defense law is heading to Gov. Rick Scott after the Senate agreed late Friday to go along with a House proposal.

The House and Senate both wanted to change the law but had clashed on a legal issue in the bill (SB 128).

But with time running out in the legislative session Friday, the Senate voted 22-14 --- with Tallahassee Democrat Bill Montford joining Republicans in support --- to accept the House proposal.

The move came in exchange for getting the House to accept the Senate's more far-reaching language on a separate measure (SB 436) dealing with religious expression in public schools.

“I thought that it was a reasonable resolution to both matters, and they're both constitutional issues,” said Sen. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican who sponsored the “stand your ground” bill. “And we wrapped it all up in a bow, and we resolved them both in a satisfactory manner.”

The overall issue stems from a Florida Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that said defendants have the burden of proof to show they should be shielded from prosecution under the "stand your ground" law.

In "stand your ground" cases, pre-trial evidentiary hearings are held to determine whether defendants should be immune from prosecution.

While the House and Senate broadly supported the idea of shifting the burden of proof from defendants to prosecutors in the pre-trial hearings, they differed on a legal standard.

The House proposal said prosecutors in pre-trial “stand your ground” hearings would have to overcome the asserted immunity sought by defendants through "clear and convincing evidence." The Senate fought for a higher standard of proof, known as "beyond a reasonable doubt.

The two chambers needed to reach agreement by Friday, the final scheduled day of the annual legislative session. Lawmakers will meet again Monday to vote on budget-related issues but will not take up other matters.

In the end, the Senate agreed to go along with the “clear and convincing evidence” standard.

Proponents of the bill, which had support from groups such as the National Rifle Association, said shifting the burden of proof would better protect the rights of defendants. But critics argued, in part, that the change would lead to cases ending before all the facts are revealed.

Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, said Friday the House version didn't alleviate his concerns about the bill.

“If you talk to prosecutors, they're already gearing up just in case we pass this bill to expend significant amount of resources, in literally every single case where there is violent activity, where they (defendants) can raise this at the pre-trial stage and force the prosecutors to basically put on a trial at the pre-trial stage,” Rodriguez said.









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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.