Senate President Galvano Wants To Revisit School Safety

Aug 17, 2018

As students across Florida start the new school year, incoming Senate President Bill Galvano wants lawmakers to think about expanding the school-safety efforts approved during the 2018 legislative session after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

In a series of tweets Tuesday, the Bradenton Republican implored senators to look more at school safety.

“As incoming Senate President of the third-largest state in the nation --- a bellwether for others --- I am committed to making sure our re-examination of school safety policies does not end here,” Galvano tweeted. “Some issues simply must transcend politics. The safety of our children is one.”

In the 2018 session, lawmakers approved a wide-ranging, $400 million measure (SB 7026) measure that includes requiring schools to have safety officers, bolstering mental-health services and upgrading protections through school “hardening” projects.

The law also allows includes-gun related changes, such as adding a three-day waiting period for all firearm purchases and increasing from 18 to 21 the minimum age to buy rifles and other long guns. The National Rifle Association has filed a lawsuit challenging the age change.

“We cannot be complacent, or think our work is done --- we must continually review existing policies and encourage new ideas to keep our students safe,” Galvano continued in his tweets. “Florida’s experiences and reforms should be shared and exported to other states. 6 months later, as millions of students begin a new school year, we cannot help but reflect back on that heartbreaking day. As we do, we can mark this moment as a time when grief galvanized action, and we were not immobilized by our differences.”

Galvano, who helped spearhead the school-safety bill, is set to take over from Senate President Joe Negron after the November election.

DOCKET GROWS IN ATTORNEY GENERAL RACE

The fight to become the Democratic nominee for attorney general isn’t just happening at the ballot box --- it’s also playing out in the courthouse.

Candidate Ryan Torrens, a consumer attorney from Hillsborough County, filed a libel claim Tuesday as part of his response to a lawsuit in which Torrens’ primary opponent, Rep. Sean Shaw of Tampa, seeks to boot him from the ballot.

The two are slated to appear next Wednesday in Leon County circuit court on Shaw’s allegation that Torrens should be decertified as a candidate for accepting a $4,000 contribution in June --- $1,000 more than the maximum an individual is allowed to give --- that enabled Torrens to cover a $7,738.32 qualifying fee for the race.

In disputing Shaw’s claim, Torrens contends that the lawsuit challenges his integrity and that of his wife, Francesca Yabraian, whose name was on the disputed campaign donation.

“In his initial haste to file his frivolous lawsuit, my opponent apparently didn’t realize at the time that Francesca is my wife,” Torrens said in a statement. “And he certainly didn’t take the time to learn that the check his lawsuit focused upon was drawn on an account that is maintained in both our names.”

The money was initially listed as a loan and later recharacterized as a $1,000 contribution with a refund attached to Yabraian.

As part of his statement accompanying a copy of the counterclaim, Torrens said he’s been named a “Rising Star” in consumer law according to Super Lawyers magazine and that Shaw’s allegations “could irreparably harm” Torrens’ practice and good name.

Shaw has equated the lawsuit with his goal, if elected, of being one of the “most active attorney generals in this country.”

“If I don’t hold my primary opponent accountable, what does it mean when I’m telling people that I’m going to hold the Legislature accountable?” Shaw said while in Tallahassee last week.

CONGRESSMAN ROONEY‘S NEXT JOB?

Congressman Tom Rooney, who this year decided against seeking re-election to his District 17 seat, is in the running to be a Palm Beach County judge.

Rooney, first elected to Congress in 2009 to represent a district that at the time stretched from Palm Beach County to Charlotte County, is one of 32 people to be interviewed for the position on Aug. 27.

Before running for elected office, the former U.S. Army JAG Corps lawyer also served as a prosecutor under former Attorney General Charlie Crist, who is now a Democratic congressman.

After the interviews, a judicial nominating commission will forward at least six names to Gov. Rick Scott, who will make the final selection.

REPUBLICANS STOOD THEIR GROUND

For the record, the final vote on Democratic effort to call a special session on the “stand your ground” self-defense law wasn’t even close. House members voted 58-33 against the session, while senators voted 19-15 against it.

Democrats needed three-fifth majorities in both chambers to force the session.

The request to revisit the self-defense law came in response to the shooting death last month of Markeis McGlockton in the parking lot of a Clearwater convenience store. Michael Drejka was arrested on a manslaughter charge Monday, after Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri initially did not arrest him because of “stand your ground.”

Democratic House members Katie Edwards-Walpole of Plantation and Bruce Antone of Orlando voted against the special session. Republican Shawn Harrison of Tampa voted in support of the session. Otherwise, the votes went along party lines: Democrats for the session; Republicans against.

TWEET OF THE WEEK: “It’s been a crazy week. I spoke with Columbia Journalism Review about this Melissa Howard story” --- David Bishop (@dlb100b), whose FLA News Online --- created out of his Panhandle home --- broke the story that resulted in Sarasota Republican Melissa Howard on Tuesday withdrawing from the state House District 73 contest over a fake college degree.