By Kathleen Haughney, Tallahassee Bureau
4:26 p.m. EDT, August 1, 2013
TALLAHASSEE -- House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston formally petitioned the Secretary of State's office Thursday to poll Legislature to gauge support for a special session "reviewing and revising" the "Stand Your Ground" law that was invoked in the killing of Trayvon Martin.
"I make this request for a special session based on my belief that there is demonstrable confusion within and among police departments, prosecuting offices and the courts about the application of the law," wrote Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale. "As presently crafted, the statutes have not simply helped law-abiding citizens protect themselves from attack, but rather they have been used as cover for perpetrators of crimes."
Under a little-used law, if 20 percent of the Legislature -- or 32 members -- formally request it, the Secretary of State must poll the entire Legislature on their support for a special session. It would take three-fifths support -- or 96 members – to call one.
For more than two weeks, protesters led by a grassroots organization called the Dream Defenders have staged a sit-in at the Florida Capitol, spending the night on the floor outside of Gov. Rick Scott's office. They have vowed to stay until Scott calls a special session to discuss the Stand Your Ground law as well as racial profiling and juvenile justice issues affecting minorities.
They also have advocated the petition approach.
A spokesman for Thurston said that the Democratic leader had spoken with leaders of the Dream Defenders, as well as other Democrats. But it's not clear if any of the 43 other House Democrats – or 14 senators -- will also petition Secretary of State Ken Detzner.
"I expect other legislators to similarly submit certificates, but it is unclear at this moment which members and how many will do so," said House Democratic spokesman Mark Hollis.
However, Republicans enjoy strong majorities in both chambers, and it's unlikely that any Republican lawmakers would cross party lines to call for a special session.