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What Does Florida Senate Committee Appointment Mean For Gun Legislation?

Florida Capitol Building in Tallahassee

Florida Capitol Building in Tallahassee. Source: WikiMedia Commons

Senate President Joe Negron put the finishing touches on his leadership team this week, handing out committee assignments to all 40 members. One key committee chairmanship went to new state Senator Greg Steube, who received the gavel for the Judiciary Committee.

Steube’s assignment could have an impact on gun legislation in the Senate, a chamber that has traditionally been more moderate about loosening restrictions on firearms.

Former Judiciary Chairman Miguel Diaz de la Portilla bottled up bills during the 2016 session that would have allowed people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns on college campuses and would have allowed people with licenses to openly carry firearms. However, Diaz de la Portilla was defeated for re-election earlier this month.

Steube, meanwhile, strongly supported efforts by the National Rifle Association and others to relax gun regulations during his time in the Florida House of Representatives. Shortly before his appointment, Steube said he would continue his efforts in the upper chamber.

“Certainly, we are going to continue to work to try to promote the rights of the Second Amendment and for concealed carry permit holders,” said Steube. “I don’t know what that legislation is going to look like yet – we haven’t put it together yet. We are actually just starting to get things into drafting, but I think there is definitely a different climate and environment in the Senate this year.”

Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon believes there is still a chance to defeat the legislation, even with only 15 Democrats among the 40 senators.

“I believe one of the reasons that those bills died was not just because that chairman held back the bills,” said Braynon. “I think the Senate was probably not willing to hear those bills. The same will probably be true this year.”

Elsewhere, GOP Senator Jack Latvala was formally named chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee. The move had already been announced as part of a deal that ended a heated leadership contest between Latvala and Negron.

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