The Florida Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its last meeting of the 2017 legislative session on Wednesday, and one Republican has taken action to ensure the defeat of several gun bills by denying them a hearing in the committee. Senator Greg Steube has introduced a slew of new legislation for the 2017 session, including several gun bills. Issues ranging from open carry to campus carry to allowing carry in the public spaces of airports were covered in Steube’s proposals, and most have been killed in committee prior to a hearing. As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in which his bills sit, Steube has faced opposition from one Republican– Senator Anitere Flores— who comes from a moderate district in Miami and has opposed his measures since their introduction. In a committee that consists of five Republicans and four Democrats, Flores is the deciding vote that will prevent these important gun bills from receiving a committee hearing, much less a vote on the Senate floor. These actions earned her the support of a major anti-gun group last month, and she appears to be following through on her campaign against the bills.
Flores is the Senate’s second-highest ranking member as president pro tempore, and has been hailed by local newspapers for her decision to block these bills from advancing. In a forty-member Senate consisting of only fifteen Democrats, such bills would be expected to face little real opposition within committee. Flores cites “gun-bill fatigue,” claiming that members of the legislature are tired of gun legislation, and told the Miami Herald last month that she doesn’t support guns in schools, school zones, or airports. However, in the same interview, she claimed, “I think every issue should be debated individually and on its merits. It doesn’t mean a blanket ‘no’ to everything; it doesn’t mean a blanket ‘yes’ to everything. It means that I’m open to debating the issues.”
Apparently, her willingness to hear these ideas out has morphed into refusal to even grant such ideas a committee hearing.
Support gained by Flores last month appears to have spurred her on to the finish in killing these gun bills. On March 7th, Flores gained a new supporter: Moms Demand Action, the anti-gun group that fights 2nd Amendment legislation around the country and whose president flees any discussion of the issue.
— Michelle (@michelle_gajda) March 7, 2017
A few days later, the official Everytown account tweeted this:
Powerful GOP Florida lawmaker will oppose dangerous gun bills, including guns on campus and guns in airports https://t.co/m18wqnS9VZ
— Everytown (@Everytown) March 13, 2017
I’ve reached out to Senator Flores’s office for comment on her decision to block these bills, as well as to Senator Greg Steube’s office for what his next steps with these bills are. I’ll update this piece as I hear back.