State Capital Briefs: Wednesday, March 8, 2017
STATE CAPITAL BRIEFS (LATE EDITION): WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8, 2017
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

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LAWMAKERS BACK RECORDS EXEMPTION FOR MURDER WITNESSES
Murder witnesses anxious about speaking to the police for fear of retaliation would have their identities shielded from public disclosure under a bill approved Wednesday by a House panel. The House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee unanimously approved a measure (HB 111), sponsored by Miami Democrats Cynthia Stafford and Kionne McGhee, that would create a public-records exemption similar to exemptions for victims of sexual assault and child abuse. Witnesses' identifying information would remain secret for two years after the date of the incidents, except to prosecutors and police. The bill received support from several parents of murder victims whose killers have not been arrested. The measure awaits a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. A Senate version (SB 550), sponsored by Criminal Justice Chairman Randolph Bracy, D-Orlando, narrowly passed its first committee by a 4-3 vote, but cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee in an 8-0 vote Tuesday.

LAWMAKERS TARGET STEROIDS IN GREYHOUND RACING
The House Tourism & Gaming Control Subcommittee on Wednesday unanimously approved a measure that would ban injecting racing greyhounds with steroids. Sponsor Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, said the bill (HB 743) would end a practice that involves giving steroids to female greyhounds to prevent them from going into heat, avoiding disruptions and increasing racing days but causing damage to the animals' reproductive organs. The Florida Greyhound Association disputed Smith's claims, arguing there is no evidence the use of steroids occurs at Florida racetracks --- home to some 60 percent of the nation's greyhound racing --- and that it would not yield a competitive advantage if it did. Industry advocates also said the proposal would prevent veterinarians from prescribing steroids to racing dogs in cases where it is medically necessary, a scenario Smith said did not exist. Several proponents of the bill said they would prefer to outlaw greyhound racing but were supporting the bill in an effort to incrementally send racing to a "death by a thousand paper cuts," as co-sponsor Rep. Alex Miller, R-Sarasota, put it. Amendments to include additional protections for racing dogs were considered but not adopted. An identical Senate bill (SB 512), sponsored by Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa, was filed Tuesday.

MCBURNEY PLANS RUN FOR CIRCUIT JUDGE
After getting skipped over last year for an appointment as a circuit judge, former House Judiciary Chairman Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville, has taken the first formal step toward running for a judgeship in 2018. McBurney opened a campaign account last week to run for circuit judge in the 4th Judicial Circuit, which includes Duval, Clay and Nassau counties, according to the state Division of Elections website. McBurney served in the House from 2007 to 2016, when he was term-limited. He sought an appointment last year to an open judicial seat but drew opposition from influential National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer. That opposition stemmed from McBurney's role last year in blocking a bill that dealt with the "stand your ground" self-defense law. Gov. Rick Scott appointed Robert Dees to the judgeship in June.


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3/8/2017

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