Legislative Leader Calls For Special Session

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By James Buechele
August 2, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - The top Democratic lawmaker in the House formally requested a special session to review the state's self-defense laws, the first step in a complicated process that could lead to lawmakers gathering to consider the issue.

House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, sent a letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner on Thursday asking for a special session to address the state's controversial "stand your ground" law.

"I make this request for a special session based on my belief that there is demonstrable confusion within and among police departments, prosecuting offices and the courts about the application of the law," Thurston wrote. "As presently crafted, the statutes have not simply helped law-abiding citizens protect themselves from attack, but rather they have been used as cover for perpetrators of crimes."

Even if other Democrats follow Thurston's lead, getting a special session called would appear to be an uphill battle. If 32 lawmakers ask for a session, Detzner is required to poll the Legislature and find out if there's support for the idea. But a three-fifths majority would be needed to actually call the session -- something that seems unlikely given that both the House and Senate are controlled by Republicans, who have generally been supportive of the self-defense law.

Meanwhile, a sit-in at Gov. Rick Scott's office trying to force him to call a special session on the law marked its 17th day on Thursday. The protesters are also demanding new policies on school discipline and racial profiling. Scott has insisted he will not call lawmakers back to Tallahassee to address "stand your ground."

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