Yesterday, Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) unveiled the members of his task force assigned to investigate the effects of the state’s “Stand Your Ground” laws that have come under intense scrutiny and criticism in recent weeks after the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin.
But critics were quick to notice some of the curious appointments made by Gov. Scott’s selection committee.
Take State Representative Dennis Baxley for instance. He was chosen as a member of the task force despite the fact that he authored H.B 249, Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. His version of the bill was used by corporate front-group ALEC as a template for similar pieces of legislation that are now in the books in half the country. And in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting, Baxley has repeatedly defended the law.
Two other lawmakers, State Senators David Simmons (R) and Gary Siplin (D), were part of the state senate that unanimously passed the senate’s version of the bill. Rep. Jason Brodeur, another co-sponsor of the House bill, is also a member of ALEC. Of the four lawmakers appointed to the 17-person task force, all of them voted for or co-sponsored the Stand Your Ground law.
The task force’s bias towards supporters of the Stand Your Ground law is easily explained by the makeup of the selection committee responsible for choosing who would have a seat on the task force. Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, who is also heading the task force, was a co-sponsor of the House bill and voted for it in 2005. As did fellow selection committee members Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon. Incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford was not in the legislature in 2005 when the law was passed, but is currently listed as a member of ALEC.
Despite the strong showing by Stand Your Ground supporters and members of ALEC, opponents of the law appear to have been shut out by the selection committee. Local newspaper The Brandenton Herald reports:
Other Democratic lawmakers, including some from Trayvon’s hometown of Miami Gardens, expressed interest in serving on the task force as well, but were not selected or informed of a formal application process. Many of those lawmakers have tried unsuccessfully to pass gun control legislation in the past.