Gov. Rick Scott has created a task force to review the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, the law behind which George Zimmerman hid after shooting and killing unarmed teen Trayvon Martin. He revealed the members of the task force on Thursday, and it should come as no surprise that among the four legislators appointed, two belong to the American Legislative Exchange Council and that all four voted for the law.
One of the members, in fact, is state Rep. Dennis Baxley, who authored the law and who has said it doesn’t need to be changed. Among others:
- Sen. David Simmons, R-Maitland, co-sponsored and voted for Stand Your Ground. He told the Herald/Times bureau that he was instrumental in drafting the final language of the law as House Judiciary Committee chairman, and was Baxley’s roommate at the time.
- Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, joined the Legislature in 2010, and the first bill he passed was a controversial gun rights bill banning doctors from asking patients about gun ownership.
- Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, voted for the bill in 2005. It passed the Senate unanimously.
Baxley and Brodeur belong to ALEC, and ALEC used Baxley’s language for the template for bills passed all over the country. The 17-member task force also includes legal professionals including state prosecutors, church leaders and neighborhood watch voluteers. It doesn’t include a number of Democratic lawmakers and opponents of the law who appear to have been shut out of the selection process. Think Progress describes the selection committee:
Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, who is also heading the task force, was a co-sponsor of the House bill and voted for it in 2005. As did fellow selection committee members Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speak Dean Cannon. Incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford was not in the legislature in 2005 when the law was passed, but is currently listed as a member of ALEC.”
According to this report, Carroll says the Democratic lawmakers didn’t apply to be on the task force. The Democrats all say that there was no announcement of an application process, and that their efforts to be included in the task force were ignored. Most disturbing is the point raised by Rep. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, who points out: “The governor failed to represent that diversity by neglecting to place a single South Florida lawmaker or mayor of a large city on the task force, in essence giving no voice to the regions of the state most often plagued by gun violence.”
Because of the lawmakers included in the group—those who would actually be responsible for making changes to the law—it seems to be stacked in favor of the law before it even gets off the ground.
By: Joan McCarter, Daily Kos, April 21, 2012