guns

Smith: What are the House’s priorities, post-Parkland?

Floridians once again are mourning, following a mass shooting at a high school in Broward County on Valentine’s Day.

The massacre resulted in 17 deaths, so far, and is the second worst school shooting in U.S. history, behind the shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School where 20 children aged 7 or under and 6 adults were slain.

The killings at the Parkland high school Wednesday prompted state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, a Democrat from Orlando, to question the priorities of the Republican-dominated House.

“These people today, ask them if they deserve a hearing,” Smith said Wednesday of those impacted at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, noting the rainbow ribbon on his lapel that honors the 50 people killed at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in 2016.

“While we sit here and hear stories at length about one person in San Francisco who was murdered — a tragedy — something that didn’t have anything to do with a sanctuary city, yet that’s the driving reason behind House Bill 9,” said Smith.

Smith has unsuccessfully pushed a measure (HB 219) that would prohibit the sale, transfer or possession of assault weapons or large-capacity ammunition magazines.

The measure has failed to get a hearing this session.

“I have had many conversations about my legislation and what is really frustrating is the priorities in this chamber,” Smith said. “My bill went straight to the Criminal Justice Subcommittee and it has not been given a hearing two years in a row. But do you want to know what the chair of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee does think is a priority: declaring porn as a public health crisis. These are the priorities of this chamber.”

A measure (HB 157) by Subcommittee Chairman Ross Spano, a Republican from Dover, seeks to have pornography declared a public health risk. The proposal has already reached the House floor.

“We’ve got an opioid crisis, but yet the budget underfunds programs that will help with that crisis,” Smith said. “We have a public health crisis related to gun violence. We’re still 50th in the nation in funding for mental health care. These are super, super important issues that are life or death issues for Floridians. Why aren’t they a priority>”

BFF raising money for UF student injured in Las Vegas massacre

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A classmate of Kristin Babik, the University of Florida law student injured in the Las Vegas mass shooting earlier this week, has raised more than $6,000 for his bestie in a gofundme campaign.

Mikey Ballou started the online campaign to help defray costs for Babik’s medical expenses and provide financial assistance to her family, he wrote on the fundraiser site.

Babik, 24, was “simply visiting friends and enjoying a weekend away” when, attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival Sunday night, she was among the hundreds shot by gunman Stephen Paddock. Fifty-eight people died in what is the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Babik has a punctured lung and broken ribs and is recovering, Ballou wrote.

“Bad things happen to good people, but I still believe good will prevail,” he said.

As of this morning, Ballou’s effort reaped $6,532 from 144 people over just two days. That’s more than halfway toward his $10,000 goal.

Here’s his pitch:

My name is Mikey Ballou, and I’m from Gainesville, Florida. My best friend, Kristin Babik, was injured in the shooting that happened at the Route 91 Harvest Festival across from Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. She has a punctured lung and broken ribs, but she is in stable condition. Kristin is a brave soul, but no one should have to endure this. I want to raise money for Kristin who was simply visiting friends and enjoying a weekend away. All of the money donated will go to her and her family to cover medical expenses and the time they take off work to care for her. Bad things happen to good people, but I still believe good will prevail. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I know Kristin thanks you from the bottom of hers.

Putnam hauls in cash but eats on the cheap ‘cuz he’s packing heat

20155766_10159004818580371_549381760493572209_nHow did Adam Putnam spend his July?

Apparently, doing the things you would expect from a candidate trying to position himself as a conservative GOP candidate running for governor, including a discount meal in the Panhandle because he’s got a license to carry a concealed weapon.

The result?

Putnam’s campaign reported Thursday that he’s raised $16.98 million through the end of last month, including nearly $1.3 million collected in July. The state agriculture commissioner has $12.3 million cash on hand through July, his campaign said.

Putnam’s fund-raising far outpaces his potential primary rivals, including House Speaker Richard Corcoran, state Sen. Jack Latvala and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who — along with their supporters — are stepping up their efforts.

Amanda Bevis, a spokeswoman for Putnam’s campaign, said the new report shows Putnam’s “finance operation continues to gain strength.”

“But, more importantly, our grassroots momentum is gaining speed,” Bevis said. “Floridians are passionate about Adam Putnam’s willingness to fight for our freedoms and his ability to bring common sense, business smarts to our state’s capital.”

Putnam’s July campaign itinerary included fairly typical events, including attending the state’s “largest Independence Day” parade in Brandon, two GOP barbecues, two “Up and Adam” breakfasts, three fire house visits, two stops at Florida National Guard facilities and a clay shoot.

And as a sign he is not shying away from the criticism he invoked after declaring himself a “proud NRA sellout,” Putnam highlighted the fact that he had “concealed carry Wednesday” luncheon at the “Just the Cook” restaurant in Panama City, where concealed weapons licensees get a 25 percent discount.

“You pack the heat/We cook the meat,” a sign at the rustic facility, which is located in a marina, says. In a Facebook along with a photo of the sign, Putnam wrote: “My kind of place.”

Putnam is in charge of Florida’s concealed weapons licensing program, which has blossomed under his leadership.

Other July highlights cited by his campaign include Putnam’s visit to the Kennedy Space Center with Vice President Mike Pence. He was also endorsed by the Florida Associated Builders and Contractors, who represent some 2,500 small businesses in the state.

By Lloyd Dunkelberger.

Putnam draws fire for ‘pandering’ to the right over guns & ‘fake news’

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam continued a pivot to the right over the weekend, channeling what appeared to be the GOP gubernatorial candidate’s inner Trump even as Putnam drew fire from fellow Republicans for what one called “pandering to the NRA.”

Putnam tweeted a link Saturday to an online petition, launched by his campaign, condemning CNN for “fake news.”

“Aren’t you tired of the liberals taking fake news to new extremes? I am. Sign the petition to stop CNN,” Putnam tweeted on Saturday.

There’s no evidence that the news network has aired anything specifically about Putnam or the Florida Republican governor’s primary that could have raised Putnam’s ire.

Instead, the slam on CNN appears to be an attempt by Putnam to endear himself with Republican base voters and supporters of President Donald Trump, who collectively have been harsh and frequent critics of the news network.

It’s also a sign that Putnam, who has the highest name recognition in the gubernatorial field and has some $11 million in unspent campaign cash, is attempting to boost his conservative creds in anticipation of potential attacks next year from other GOP candidates who are almost certain to question Putnam’s record in Congress and as a two-term Cabinet member.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, two prominent conservative Republicans, are raising money and have expressed an interest in joining the race to replace Gov. Rick Scott, who is leaving office because of term limits.

Moderate Republicans — including Sen. Jack Latvala, who’s mulling a run for governor — piled onto Putnam over the weekend.

The criticism came in reaction to a tweet from Putnam last week, who was responding to a column by Daniel Ruth of The Tampa Bay Times.

“The liberal media recently called me a sellout to the NRA. I’m a proud #NRASellout!” —Putnam (@adamputnam), tweeted.

Latvala, the powerful Senate budget chief who’s expected to make an announcement on Aug. 16 regarding a bid for governor, on Sunday took a Twitter shot at Putnam.

“I will never sell out to anyone, anytime,” Latvala tweeted, who posted a link to a Pensacola News Journal editorial critical of Putnam.

“This may be perfectly predictable behavior from a Republican vying to become Florida’s next governor. But it’s hardly a declaration of leadership or individualism,” the editorial stated.

Former Rep. Ray Pilon, a Sarasota Republican, joined in the Twitter chorus Monday morning.

“@adamputnam can’t tell you how shocked and disappointed I am in your pandering to the NRA and I am a lifetime member,” Pilon (@PilonForFlorida) tweeted.

Posted by Lloyd Dunkelberger and Jim Turner.