Friday, February 17, 2012

The Immunity Bill

The bill PCB JDC 12-03 is making its way through the Florida House. The bill would give members of the Florida legislature immunity from civil suits. Text from the bill.

"A member or former member of the legislature has an absolute privilege in any civil action, judicial administrative proceeding or executive branch administrative proceeding against compelled testimony or the compelled production of any document or record in connection with any action taken or function performed in a legislative capacity."

People joke that politicians think they are above the law. Republicans in the Florida House are trying to make themselves above the law through legislative means. Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach claim that they are protecting the Florida legislature from frivolous lawsuits. Democrats aren't buying it.

"Anyone who votes for this bill is thinking they will have something to hide and have to shield themselves," said Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood.

Florida Democratic Party chairman Rod Smith believes the immunity bill is to protect Republicans from lawsuits involving redistricting.

Yesterday, Republicans introduced a bill to give legislators, former legislators and their staff protection from lawsuits. This is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to shield legislators from questions by the court. It's shameful, it's wrong, and we won't remain silent.

Concerned voters, in conjunction with the Florida Democratic Party, have filed a lawsuit in state court to challenge the constitutionality of the congressional map, which violates the Fair District Amendments and seeks to suppress the voice of Florida's citizens. And today, we will challenge the state legislative maps in the state Supreme Court.

Make no mistake: the stakes are high and the far-reaching consequences will leave an impact on both the state and national landscape for years to come.

It takes an incredible amount of chutzpah for Republicans to try to pass an immunity bill, on the verge of of lawsuits. Republicans in the Florida Senate tried to fight against any economic studies on the cost factor of private prisons. What the prison and immunity bills reveal is that Republicans know that they are writing legislation that won't stand up to scrutiny. The private prison bills rewrote current laws on state oversight of private contract. The immunity bill implies that citizens cannot call members of the legislature into court. Florida Republicans are making corruption into law.

Update: Trish Ponder comes out against the immunity bill.

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