Lee’s note: This just in from my colleague Zac Anderson, who’s covering the legislature in Tallahassee. Click here to read the entire story.
Powerful GOP lawmaker opposes Steube’s gun bills
State Sen. Anitere Flores says she opposes guns in airport terminals and on college campuses.
Sen. Greg Steube came fully loaded this legislative session with nearly a dozen gun bills. He got one through a Senate committee Tuesday, but it may be the last to advance.
In a stunning setback for gun rights supporters, Sen. Anitere Flores, one of the most powerful lawmakers in Tallahassee, declared on the very first day of Florida’s two-month legislative session that she likely would not support any of Steube’s 10 other gun bills, leaving them with little chance of moving forward.
“He and I do not see eye-to-eye on probably any of the other gun bills,” said Flores, a Miami Republican. “I do not support having guns on campus, I do not support having guns in airports, I do not support having guns in school zones. I don’t support those things and Sen. Steube feels differently and that’s fine but this is where we are this year.”
Flores is the second-highest ranking Republican in the Senate and a close ally of President Joe Negron. Just as importantly, she is the decisive vote on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee is the first stop for all of Steube’s gun bills. It has five Republicans and four Democrats, meaning if every Democrat opposes a gun bill it takes just one Republican to kill the legislation.
“Gun issues will continue perhaps to be debated,” Flores said. “I don’t know that they’ll continue to be debated in this committee because these would be bills that I wouldn’t be in support of.”
Flores represents a Democratic-leaning South Florida district. She comfortably won reelection, but Hillary Clinton beat President Donald Trump in the district by 10 percentage points, according to an analysis by Democratic data expert Matthew Isbell.
“We respect each other in this process and we respect the fact that we come from different backgrounds,” Flores said.
That Flores came out so strongly against his gun bills is a blow for Steube, a freshman senator with a reputation as one of Florida’s most ardent gun rights advocates. Steube campaigned on a staunchly conservative platform. He often complained on the campaign trail that his gun bills would pass the House, where he served for six years, and die in the Senate. He vowed to change that if elected, but that now seems unlikely this year.
The Judiciary Committee has been the main roadblock for gun legislation in the Senate. The former chairman, a South Florida Republican who lost his reelection bid to a Democrat, refused to hear a number of gun bills last year. Steube’s appointment to chair the committee seemed to increase the likelihood of gun legislation advancing.
Steube noted that two gun bills have cleared the committee this year, the legislation approved Tuesday dealing with carrying concealed weapons at courthouses and a change to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. That’s two more gun bills than last year.
“I certainly think we’re moving in the right direction,” he said.
That the rest of his gun bills seem dead for now is “disappointing,” Steube added.
Click here to read the entire story.