02/02/18: Fla. Speaker Against Sanctuary Cities, Voting Rights Overhaul Needed For Felons

Feb 2, 2018

On this week’s statewide Roundup: The state’s ban on felon voting rights has ruled been unconstitutional while Florida’s House Speaker said there will be there will be no sanctuary cities on his watch.

Florida's Voting Rights For Felons System Ruled Unconstitutional

A federal judge ruled late Thursday that Florida’s process for restoring voting rights to felons is unconstitutional.

In a 43 page ruling, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker called Florida’s system a scheme. He said it’s arbitrary and forces felons who want their rights restored to “kowtow before a panel of high-level government officials over which Florida's governor has absolute veto authority.”

The judge said the system gives four partisan politicians "unfettered discretion" - he cited a comment Governor Scott made at a hearing that "We can do whatever we want."

The state is expected to appeal the ruling.

In a statement, the Governor’s Office said, "The discretion of the clemency board over the restoration of felons' rights in Florida has been in place for decades and overseen by multiple governors. The process is outlined in Florida's Constitution."

This ruling comes as voters will soon decide the fate of a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would automatically restore the voting rights of more than one million felons in Florida. That amendment will be on the ballot in November in the midterm elections.

We began the Roundup with a closer look at this bombshell ruling as we welcomed Lawrence Mower with the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau.

Florida’s House Speaker Says No Sanctuary Cities On His Watch

This week, immigration was a big theme for President Trump in his first State of the Union address.  And a day before his speech, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran released a 30 second ad using the case of a San Francisco woman shot and killed in 2015. An undocumented immigrant was charged with her murder, but was acquitted.

Corcoran’s ad doesn’t show any video from the San Francisco case. Instead, it shows a white woman in a residential neighborhood, walking past a man wearing a hoodie. He stops, pulls out a gun and the camera zooms into the barrel as he fires it.

Corcoran isn’t officially running for Florida Governor - yet. He plans to announce his decision in March after the legislative session is over.

Corcoran has said previously that Florida has two "sanctuary cities:" St. Petersburg and Tallahassee. Both Democratic mayors of those cities, Rick Kriseman and Andrew Gillum, dispute that claim.

State Representative Wants Protections For Undocumented Workers In Florida

Undocumented immigrants are a reality in the Florida economy. Sometimes they get hurt while working and then face the possibility of deportation. The companies that hire them oftentimes don’t face any penalties, according to a year-long investigation by the Naples Daily News.

37-year-old Abednego de la Cruz sliced his finger last year as he helped build a Tallahassee fire station.  After his injury, he said he was fired and his employer refused him any benefits that would have helped cover treatment.

His employer then reported him to the police. De La Cruz was arrested, and a court denied him asylum. He has appealed the decision. He is afraid he will have to leave his one-year-old daughter, who is an American citizen.

Tampa Democratic Representative Sean Shaw wants to amend a workers’ compensation bill to include protections for undocumented workers. Employers and insurers would be required to cover their on-the-job injuries.

Currently, those workers may be forced to pay for their medical treatment. They also risk being arrested, jailed, and deported.

Shaw said employers that don’t verify documents before hiring workers should be required to pay compensation and medical care for injuries under workers’ comp.

Reporter Maria Perez with the Naples Daily News joined us with more on this investigation.