Florida House takes up school safety and gun legislation

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By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service
March 6, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- The Florida House of Representatives began talking about school safety and guns before lunch on Tuesday, and is expected to continue the discussion into the early evening. A final vote is not expected until tomorrow.

House members asked probing questions about arming teachers in Tuesday's session.

"Where in your bill does it prevent a school guardian from possessing an AR-15?" asked Representative Kionee McGee (D - Miami).

In response, House Speaker-to-be Jose Oliva (R - Miami) said many of the questions were more about the delay than information.

"The idea of guarding in a classroom, and having the last line of defense, should probably rise above political theater," he said.

As debate was happening in session, a handful of activists laid down for 17 minutes in the rotunda outside the House, with name cards that identified the 17 killed in Parkland.

"I don't think they're really listening to us," said Amber Martin, an FSU student. "We didn't want more guns on school campuses."

Inside, Democrats filed 90 amendments, all of which are expected to fail on party lines.

"Hope springs eternal. We're going to keep fighting to the last minute," said Rep. Janet Cruz (D - Tampa), the House Democratic Leade.

The expectation here is that the bill will pass exactly as it was sent from the Senate, which will allow Governor Rick Scott to get it on Wednesday.

The Parent Teachers Association is already looking to Gov. Scott to find a way to kill the provision arming teachers, but is not looking for a veto.

"We don't want him to veto the bill," said Angie Gall of the Florida PTA. "We don't want a veto of the bill because there is just too much good stuff in there for our schools, and for our students and families that need that, especially in Parkland."

At least one victim's father was in the Capitol working behind the scenes to change "no" votes to "yes" votes.

If any amendments pass, changing the bill in any way, sending it back to the Senate could mean its death.

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