National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer said it's too early to declare gun-related bills dead after an influential Miami senator this week appeared to shoot down a number of high-profile proposals.
"Everything is alive until it is killed by a vote of a committee or on the floor," Hammer, a past president of the NRA, said in an email Wednesday. "My job is not to wring my hands and whine, my job is to work hard for law-abiding gun owners and never quit. That's what I intend to do."
A day earlier, the Senate Judiciary Committee narrowly approved a bill that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to store firearms with security officers at courthouses.
But committee member Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican who is a top lieutenant to Senate President Joe Negron, said she could not support a long list of gun-related measures filed by Judiciary Chairman Greg Steube. Flores cast the deciding vote to approve the courthouse bill.
"He and I do not see eye to eye on probably any of the other gun bills," Flores said. "I do not support having guns on campus. I do not support having guns in airports. I don't support having guns in school zones. I don't support those things."
Flores said Wednesday that no one should be surprised by her stance.
Last July, she joined 12 Democrats on the losing side of a vote to hold a special session on gun regulations after the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
"We're elected to represent the people who vote for us," Flores said Wednesday. "Maybe Sen. Steube will bring up some of the other bills and we'll have a discussion and we'll see the merits of any individual issue."
Flores' stance is important, at least in part, because Steube's committee is comprised of five Republicans and four Democrats.
The committee was a roadblock for gun bills during the past two sessions, and Second Amendment advocates expected to see greater gains this year with Steube becoming chairman.
Steube, noting that the committee approved the courthouse bill Tuesday and earlier advanced a proposal related to the "stand-your-ground" self-defense law, said Tuesday, "I certainly think we're moving in a direction that I would like to see us move."
Flores said she hadn't heard from Hammer, but there has been "some social media, Twitter, people and that kind of thing."
Hammer sent out a notice Wednesday to members of the NRA and Unified Sportsmen of Florida, under the title "Florida Report: Sen. Anitere Flores Turns on Law-abiding Gun Owners."
"I cannot tell you why Sen. Flores suddenly turned on law-abiding gun owners because I do not know. (Until yesterday she had a 100% rating with NRA and USF),” Hammer wrote.
The Second Amendment-rights group Florida Carry went further, calling Flores a "turncoat" who unleashed "an anti-gun diatribe" against the pro-gun bills in the Senate, and questioning if she was speaking for herself or Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart.
NEW REDISTRICTING RULES?
The Senate continued Thursday pushing forward with a little-noticed bill that would govern what happens if a court has to redraw legislative or congressional districts under the anti-gerrymandering Fair Districts standards approved by voters in 2010.
The proposal (SB 352) passed the Senate Rules Committee on a party-lin, 7-3 vote, which clears it to go to the Senate floor.
Sen. Travis Hutson, an Elkton Republican sponsoring the bill, said it is mostly aimed at encouraging the courts to be more open in how they draw maps once a plan approved by the Legislature has been struck down.
Under the measure, the court would be encouraged --- but not required --- to hold public hearings on the maps, keep minutes at closed meetings, and preserve emails and other documents concerning the drawing of court plans.
“I think the voters and the Legislature need a little bit more transparency so that we can be more certain on how to draw the maps going forward,” Hutson told the Senate Rules Committee.
Voting-rights organizations that got courts to overturn Senate and congressional maps drawn by lawmakers in 2012 are opposed to the bill, which also specifies when court-drawn maps would take effect based on how soon the next election is coming up.
TWEET OF THE WEEK: "@FLGovScott has ruined the `Let's Get to Work' slogan for me forever." --- Florida Times-Union bureau chief Tia Mitchell (@TIAreports), after Scott worked the slogan into a mention of his daughter being pregnant during Tuesday's "State of the State" address.