Campus-Carry Gun Bill Likely Holstered By Senate Committee

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) — A Senate Judiciary Committee is not likely to take up a proposal that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to pack heat while on college and university campuses.

A day after saying his “position hasn’t changed from last year,” Judiciary Chairman Miguel Diaz de la Portilla said Wednesday it’s unlikely the bill (SB 68) will be taken up by his committee.

“As each day goes by, there’s less of a probability,” the Miami Republican said adding, “I don’t think we’ll be hearing campus carry this session.”

Diaz de la Portilla was responding to questions from reporters Wednesday after a Senate Regulated Industries Committee meeting.

The campus-carry measure — opposed by many faculty members, university and college presidents, and campus law enforcement — died last year after Diaz de la Portilla refused to put it on the agenda in his committee.

At the time, he said there didn’t appear to be committee support for the measure.

The bill this year has narrowly passed the Senate Criminal Justice and Higher Education committees.

The Judiciary Committee is expected to hear a separate bill (SB 300) that seeks to allow concealed-carry license holders to openly display their sidearms in most places.

National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer has said the campus-carry measure will return in 2017 if it fails this year.

‘TIE’ REPLACEMENT COMING

The state’s business-recruitment agency is about to get a new brand.

Bill Johnson, Gov. Rick Scott’s top business recruiter, said the new Enterprise Florida business brand will be unveiled Jan. 29.

Enterprise Florida has drawn criticism for a brand featuring an orange tie in the letter “i” of Florida, with arguments that it seemed to exclude women.

Johnson, the president and CEO of Enterprise Florida, announced plans to unveil the brand while at the introduction Wednesday of a state university system educational campaign called “Think Florida: A High Degree for Business.”

“Our initiative will also focus on working with Think Florida, with our educators, with the chancellor, on the opportunity, if you will, the importance of a quality education and Florida’s ranking in our nation and around the world, in terms of just that, education,” said Johnson. “The world needs to know that Florida has a talented workforce and our businesses need to know that we have some of the best skilled young people in our own backyard.”

The university campaign is initially a website, social media campaign and newsletter.

Board of Governors Chairman Tom Kuntz said the idea is to “push the envelope over the next two years in terms of research, online education, and aligning our degrees to match the needs of Florida’s high-skilled workforce.”

Details have not yet been released about the next Enterprise Florida brand. But expect something bigger than the “tie” that came out in 2013 as part of the “The Perfect Climate for Business” campaign.

For one, the new promotional campaign comes with $8.5 million in funding from the state and another $1.5 million from Enterprise Florida, well above the $1 million initially budgeted for “The Perfect Climate for Business” brand.

When seeking the money from lawmakers last year, Johnson’s initial request was for $20 million, he said the campaign would be aimed at firms in such industries as aeronautical, space and manufacturing and would reach beyond the core areas targeted now by Enterprise Florida of New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and Washington, D.C.

CITIZENS HITS MILESTONE

The shedding of policies from the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance into the private market has slowed in the past year.

But after nearly four years, Citizens — once a whipping boy of Scott and many lawmakers — has fallen under a half-million policies, reaching 484,788 policies as of Tuesday, according to a release from Citizens.

The new number is the lowest since Citizens was created in 2002 as the insurer of last resort, with its exposure now standing at $143.53 billion.

“This marks an important milestone and the culmination of efforts from all Citizens’ stakeholders,” Citizens Board of Governors Chairman Chris Gardner said in the release. “Much of the credit needs to go to the private property insurance market, which under the watchful eye of the Office of Insurance Regulation has grown strong over the past several years. State leaders also need to take a bow.”

In 2012, Citizens’ policy count peaked at 1.5 million, with the potential exposure to all Floridians above $500 billion.

By the start of 2015, the numbers were down to about 661,000 policies and nearly $200 billion in exposure.

(The News Service of Florida’s Jim Turner contributed to this report.)

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