Morning Report: Senate panel targets 'Stand Your Ground'

George Zimmerman mugshot, via Seminole County Sheriffs Office.
  • George Zimmerman mugshot, via Seminole County Sheriff's Office.

A Senate panel today is expected to review proposed revisions to Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" self-defense law.

This is the first look by lawmakers at the “Stand Your Ground” law since a governor-appointed task force recommended the review, after neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

Amendments under consideration target neighborhood watch groups and set to limit their crime watch role to prevention and reporting suspected crimes.

One amendment would stop neighborhood watch volunteers from confronting people deemed suspicious or attempting to apprehend suspects.

Sen. David Simmons, a Republican from Altamonte Springs who drafted the original statute 10 years ago, is among the legislators proposing changes. His proposals would create guidelines for neighborhood watch groups and also prevent crime watch volunteers from acting in a quasi-police role.

The Senate Judiciary Committee may make recommendations on the amendments today.

More this morning:

Replacing the Howard Frankland: The northbound span of the Howard Frankland Bridge is on the state's list for replacement.

The state Department of Transportation will hold two public hearings this week to discuss the project and its implications. Discussions will include a look at mass transit options for the region. The state plans to study how transit can be included in the bridge replacement construction.

Tonight, there will be a formal presentation at 6 p.m. at the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, 3201 Scherer Drive, in St. Petersburg. An open house runs from 5 to 7 p.m.

On Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Tampa, there will be a second presentation at the Tampa Marriott Westshore, 1000 N West Shore Blvd. An open house is from 5 to 7 p.m.

Retail politics: The opening of a Walmart hiring center in south St. Petersburg Monday drew about 250 job applicants seeking 95 job openings at a Neighborhood Market planned for the Tangerine Plaza.

The hiring center’s opening also brought out Mayor Bill Foster, campaigning for re-election. Accompanying Foster was Mayor Rick Baker, who had focused on improving the Midtown area during his administration.

Baker did not offer his endorsement of Foster, who used the event to attack challenger Rick Kriseman for accepting an endorsement from Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

Foster argued that the state Dems have made it their priority to get Kriseman elected mayor of St. Petersburg. Foster himself has taken organizing support from the GOP, and Gov. Rick Scott's words of support for Foster in the mayor's race are being reported in the media as an endorsement.

As Foster lashed out at Kriseman, the challenger was just blocks away at a Midtown rec center accepting a warm endorsement from Crist, who described the candidate as “passionate” and a “friend.”

Crist carries popular support in the city, which is his hometown. He and his wife live in downtown St. Petersburg. Reporters used the press conference to ask Crist if he will run for governor again. Crist responded that he was not at the press conference to talk about himself but about Kriseman's bid for mayor.

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