Representative Dennis Baxley

Edmund D. Fountain / Tampa Bay Times

A bill to help provide closure for families impacted by the now-closed Dozier School for Boys is now headed to Governor Rick Scott. That’s the former North Florida reform school surrounded by allegations of abuse and deaths over a span of decades.

MGN Online

Some Florida lawmakers are hoping to revive an effort that could change the role of State Attorneys prosecuting a “Stand Your Ground” case. And, some prosecutors are also against another bill giving judges more discretion in handing out mandatory 10-20-Life sentences.

Florida Channel

A measure allowing terminally ill people to use experimental drugs without needing full federal approval has passed the Florida House, after several lawmakers shared their personal stories.

A number of criminal justice stakeholders are set to converge in Sarasota Monday to kick off a three-day summit to work on innovative ways to reduce recidivism in Florida’s prison system.

It’s the 4th annual Justice Summit presented by the Florida Smart Justice Alliance, and many criminal justice enthusiasts are expected to participate, including Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala). So, why should everyday Floridians care?

Mitch Barrie

Can a convicted felon, who’s not supposed to have a gun in the first place, still use a gun legally for self-defense? That depends which Florida self-defense law he uses, according to a recent appeals court ruling. The first law doesn’t say convicted felons can’t defend themselves with guns. The second one – the so called “Stand Your Ground” law – specifically says they can’t. Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) who authored the Stand Your Ground law, says he’s watching what happens next in the courts.

MGN Online

In the last several days, a number of bills aimed at helping Florida’s criminal justice and juvenile justice systems have passed in either chamber of the state Legislature. They range from a measure to prevent inmate escapes to another that aims to revamp the juvenile justice system.

Bill Addressing Inmate Escapes

Making sure prison release orders are properly verified is the goal of bill authored by Sen. Greg Evers (R-Baker) in his capacity as chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

Deckerhoff testimony
The Florida Channel

A passionately, tearfully debated bill legalizing non-smoked medical marijuana is headed to the Florida House floor after passing its final committee today. But some who voted for the measure warned they could not continue supporting it in its current form.

During Monday’s debate, several legislators acknowledged they’re part of a national sea change on the issue of medical marijuana.

Rep. Elaine Schwartz (D-Hollywood) brought up today’s “Diane Rehm Show” discussion of America’s attitude shift toward marijuana.


While the "warning shot" bill got teed up for a vote in the Senate, a couple of gun-related measures have already passed the full House as of Thursday. But after a dust-up between lawmakers, a revived attempt to repeal Florida’s Stand Your Ground law failed again.

NRA's Busy Week

State Attorney's Office

State Attorneys say they’re against Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.  At least one of those prosecutors says he’s also dead set against the so-called bipartisan tweak bill now moving in the Senate.

Tallahassee State Attorney Willie Meggs is railing against an NRA-backed provision in the bill that he insists would “make a bad policy a lot worse.” He says he opposes Stand Your Ground because Florida residents no longer feel they have the duty to retreat in a situation that could call for it.

MGN Online

A series of gun-related measures are now heading for floor votes, including a House bill aimed at revising Florida schools’ zero tolerance policies. Both chambers are also expected to take up a measure that seeks to protect gun owners from insurance discrimination.

"Pop Tart" Gun Bill

A bill attempting to revise Florida schools’ zero-tolerance policies concerning kids and guns is expected to have its first Senate hearing Monday. Calling it the “Right To Be A Kid Bill,” the National Rifle Association’s Marion Hammer insists it will be one of the most important bills passed out of the Legislature.

“It basically says if a kids points a finger and goes ‘bang, bang,’ use some common sense, people! Don’t suspend that kid from school. It stops that kind of insane behavior by school administrators I guess who were never kids,” said Hammer.

Florida House of Representatives

A bill by Ocala Republican State Representative Dennis Baxley would stop schools from referring kids to the department of juvenile justice for minor offenses such as wearing t-shirts or accessories with guns on them.

Baxley says schools are overreacting when it comes to student discipline.

“Obviously, we don’t want firearms brought to school in a backpack, but we got into a lot of simulated behavior and overreacted—clothing issues, accessories. So this just tones down some of those cases and makes a common sense application.” 

Florida House of Representatitves

Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) is apologizing for comments he made that gay rights activists say disparage same-sex couples.

During a House committee meeting earlier this month, Baxley attempted to communicate the concerns of a teacher who he said, had told him about the issues facing many of the students in her classroom:

“This child has several men coming to the house, this one has two mommies, this one has an abusive father," Baxley explained.

Florida House

Florida lawmakers are remembering their former fellow colleague, John Patrick Julien. The former South Florida legislator lost his battle with cancer Friday. Ocala Republican Representative Dennis Baxley worked with Julien when he was the ranking Democratic member on the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, a panel Baxley chaired. Speaking at the end of a recent committee hearing, Baxley mourned the loss of his friend.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

The man who sponsored Florida’s Stand Your Ground law in the state House says he wants lawmakers to tread carefully as they examine the law, but he feels there should be some type of debate.

Amend Stand Your Ground?

Ocala Republican Representative Dennis Baxley says caution is key if lawmakers consider repealing the law or, in his words, “diminishing a valuable piece of legislation”…

The Senate version of an inmate re-entry bill looks a little different now. In some Florida lawmakers own words, it was essentially gutted at its second committee stop Thursday—A move that even took the bill’s sponsor by surprise. While the measure still cleared a Criminal Justice budget panel, it wound up pitting Republicans against Republicans.

It was Republican versus Republican in the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee Thursday, when it came to vetting an inmate re-entry bill sponsored by Republican Senator Thad Altman.

Several abortion bills are now headed to the Florida House floor, after clearing their last committee stop Wednesday. They include a bill that seeks to ban abortions based on the sex or gender of the unborn child. But, lawmakers had mixed feelings on the issue, at times voting against their own party.

The abortion issue is always a controversial one, and each year, at least one abortion bill inflames passions among Florida lawmakers as they vet the issue.

A Florida House panel has cleared a bill that seeks to keep non-violent offenders from re-offending and going back to prison. But, while most provisions had much approval, the discussion later devolved into a matter between public vs. private operation of the inmate re-entry facilities.

Measures related to cyber bullying, school security, open school board meetings and the United States founding fathers all made it past the House K-12 Subcommittee on Wednesday. The cyber bullying bill would require principals to intervene when students threaten each other on the Internet.

It was the first committee stop for the cyber bullying bill, sponsored by Rep. Reggie Fullwood (D-Jacksonville). He said, cyber bullying is something we hear about more and more, and it’s time for Florida to crack down on it.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

Lowering the chances of former inmates going back to prison is the goal of a new proposal filed in the Florida Legislature. State lawmakers are partnering with business backed group, Florida Smart Justice Alliance, to rehabilitate nonviolent inmates to reduce the number of crimes.

When an inmate gets released from prison, the general assumption is they normally get $50 and a bus ticket and are thrown out into society.  But, under a new proposal, lawmakers are aiming to change that for eligible non-violent offenders serving the last few years of their sentence.

In Florida, the mother of Trayvon Martin and Democratic lawmakers are calling for the repeal of the state’s so-called “stand-your-ground” law. The bill to repeal the law comes nearly a year after neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman shot and killed the unarmed teen. Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, stood flanked by Democratic lawmakers who’ve filed legislation to throw out Florida’s first-in-the-nation law that says people can use deadly force if they feel threatened.

After President Obama unveiled a sweeping proposal to curb gun violence, it received a swift rebuke from groups like the National Rifle Association and the Republican National Committee. Some Florida lawmakers offered their reactions to the news.

Among 23 executive actions, the president’s proposal calls for Congress to pass universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons. Republican Representative Dennis Baxley of Ocala sees the action as an assault on 2nd Amendment rights.

In Florida, the mother of Trayvon Martin and Democratic lawmakers are calling for the repeal of the state’s so-called “stand-your-ground” law. A bill to repeal the law comes nearly a year after neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman shot and killed the unarmed teen.

Jessica Palombo / WFSU-FM

Central Florida’s Silver Springs attraction could soon become a state park. A public forum on the topic attracted hundreds of people this week.

Ocala’s Vanguard High School auditorium was filled to capacity for the Silver Springs forum. More than 50 people took the microphone to give the state their input.

It’s the only spring in Florida still managed by a private company. And that company, Spanish-owned Palace Entertainment, is trying to be let go from its lease before it expires in 2029.

Fla. Asks: Should Silver Springs Be A State Park?

Dec 13, 2012
Jessica Palombo / WFSU-FM

The state of Florida is taking public input on a proposal to turn Central Florida’s Silver Springs attraction into a state park. A public forum on the proposal attracted hundreds of people to an Ocala high school on Wednesday evening.

The Silver Springs land is already owned by the state, but it’s being leased to a private theme park manager. The company, Palace Entertainment, is trying to be let go from its lease, which doesn’t expire until 2029.