Half Way Through Florida’s Legislative Session

Half way through Session, here is what is happening with the Second Amendment in the Legislature

We’re nearing the half way mark, so here is your news update on what is happening in the Legislature. As your State Director, I’ve been on the ground in Tallahassee amplifying your voices in the very halls that the legislative leadership has tried to block you out of.

Again, the Capitol is still closed to the general public and no one can go inside to meet with their lawmakers to voice their concerns unless they have a scheduled meeting.

Luis Valdes, GOA’s FL State Director, speaking before the Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee in support of HB 1409 and HB 1343.

So, with that, let’s get to the news.

March 17 was a busy day. GOA spoke before two separate committees for three different bills with a number of amendments.

That morning, the first bill to be heard was the State Preemption bill, HB 1409, introduced by Rep. Cord Byrd (R). This is a solidly good bill that you can get behind.

Currently, under the state’s preemption law, if a municipality passes an ordinance that goes beyond the scope and authority that the state has allowed and a lawsuit is filed, the municipality can change that ordinance and make the lawsuit moot. HB 1409 makes it so that if the municipality tries to do that, the lawsuit can continue. 

Basically, the goal is to prevent what happened with the Supreme Court Case of New York State Rifle Pistol Association Inc vs. New York City.  When that case was going before the high court, New York City changed their law to make the issue moot, thus preventing the Supreme Court from ruling on the case. 

Additionally, GOA spoke in support of HB 1343, introduced by Rep. Blaise Ingogolia (R), which requires that the FL Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services keep the online application system for concealed weapons permits up and running. In 2020, the department under the leadership of Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) shutdown the system, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason, even though she kept other online application systems up and running. 

In the afternoon, GOA was still at the Capitol, pounding the pavement and speaking in support of HB 259 — the House’s version of the Church Carry bill as introduced by Rep. Jayer Williamson (R).

Rep. Fentrice Driskel (D) introduced two amendments to the bill in an attempt to gut it and make this bill worthless. She wanted to make it so that no one could carry at any religious institution. 

Your FL State Director, speaking before the Judiciary Committee in support of HB 259.

We were able to defeat the bad amendments and made sure to see Rep. Byrd’s good amendment pass. It made sure that “gun free zone” signs don’t carry the weight of law.

Rep. Bryd submitted that amendment to remove any and all doubt from the bill. So, HB 259 is now a “clean” bill. 

On March 22, GOA supported SM 1630, introduced by Sen. Dennis Baxley (R). 

While this is Sen. Baxley’s final term, he is trying his best to advance Second Amendment rights under the political restrictions the Senate President has placed on him.

SM 1630 is a Senate Motion expressing the consensus of the Florida Legislature that any forthcoming efforts by the federal government to restrict the right to keep and bear arms of Floridians violate the Constitution of the United States. This motion goes further to affirm that the intent of the Florida Legislature is to do everything in its power to protect the rights of Florida residents under the Second Amendment to the Constitution and under the Florida Constitution.

You FL State Director addressing the Senate’s Judiciary Committee and informing that GOA’s member want SB 1884 to pass.

On March 26, HB 259 passed the full House with a vote of 76 yeas to 37 nays. So either this bill goes to the Senate for SB 498, the Senate’s version goes through one more committee and then onto the Senate floor.

On March 29, SB 1884 was debated on and passed the Senate’s Judiciary Committee. This bill was introduced by Sen. Ray Rodrigues (R) and it is the Senate’s version of the State Preemption bill. Of course, GOA was there to make sure this bill advances since state preemption is very important. 

As for Constitutional Carry. I spoke with Rep. Byrd back on March 17 since he chairs the House’s Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee. He said he will not have HB 123, the Constitutional Carry bill, added to the Committee’s agenda since it does not have a Senate Companion Bill.

I believe that Rep. Bryd is a good man. As a lawyer, he even promotes himself as a “Gun Lawyer” through his his law firm.

But I question why someone that claims to be a gun rights lawyer would refuse to have a Constitutional Carry bill be heard in the very committee that he chairs.

The reason why is simple.

The ugliness of the Legislative Dictatorship is rearing its ugly head again. 

The real truth is that the House Speaker doesn’t want it heard. Rep. Bryd is taking his marching orders from House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R). No one in the Senate submitted a companion bill because Senate President Wilton Simpson (R) will kill all of their other bills. 

That’s why we need to exert external pressure upon these Legislative Dictators by engaging Gov. Ron DeSantis. By doing so, he can put pressure on the legislative leadership. 

There are some good bills moving forward, but Constitutional Carry still faces an uphill battle. 

As gun owners, you must be loud, proud, and ACTIVE! Make noise!

Overload their email inboxes, voice mail (the Senate is 850-487-5229, the House 850-717-5000, and the Governor’s Office is 850-717-9337), and physical offices with letters.

Remember what Sen. Baxley said back in 2019:

“Republican Lawmakers don’t support pro-gun legislation because they don’t hear any negative criticism from their constituency. They take the silence of gun owners as approval.”

Email Governor DeSantis so he can use his office as a bully pulpit to support pro-gun bills and don’t forget to email the entire the House and Senate to support pro-gun legislation.