The Republican-led Senate will take up issues related to guns, abortion and redistricting today, a trio of conservative priorities that critics say represents the Senate’s hard shift to the right.
“It’s obviously an example of the type of conservative agenda that is going to be promoted in the future,” said Sen. Nan Rich, the incoming minority leader. “It is a new Senate… It is much more conservative on social issues, well, on just about anything you look at.”
Among the conservative-pushed measures on the table for today:
-An amendment that would allow some gun owners to keep their guns in their vehicles when parked on private property. The measure is opposed by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and is backed by the NRA.
-A proposed constitutional amendment that would “clarify” the intent of the citizen-driven “Fair Districts” proposals. The legislation would allow lawmakers to draw up districts using “communities of interest,” such as race or coastal communities. Supporters say the legislative amendment is needed to preserve minority gains in the statehouse. Opponents argue the proposal would gut the Fair District amendments, which they say already protects minority rights.
-Sen. Mike Fasano’s SB 290, which seeks to eliminate any requirement in Florida relating to the killing of an unborn child that the suspect must have knowledge of the pregnancy or the intent to kill. Critics say the bill could challenge the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.
“We are giving the exact same protections in Florida law to a one-day-old fertilized egg as that as an adult woman, that is what the Fasano bill does,” said Stephanie Kunkel, a lobbyist for the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates.
The American Civil Liberties Union also urged Senate Democrats to oppose the conservative measures during a caucus meeting this morning.
“This is one of the most ideologically driven sessions that we’ve seen in quite some time,” said Courtenay Strickland, a lobbyist for the ACLU.
“One of the things we are seeing is that one of the most influential people this legislative session has been former Gov. Jeb Bush,” she said.