Florida Five: Child rapist ties blow up District 19 race, Senate panel approves ‘pro-life’ abortion bill

Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:

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Curt Clawson

Game-changer in 19th District Congressional race over candidates relationship with child rapist: Three of the Republican candidates running for the 19th District Congressional seat dropped a bombshell on the fourth, Curt Clawson, with a joint statement Tuesday afternoon.State Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto, Dr. Michael Dreikorn, and Dr. Paige Kreegel released a joint statement today demanding that Clawson explain contradictory statements he made regarding his relationship with known child rapist, Glen Borst; and subsequent falsification of his financial disclosure.4 in Your Corner has detailed the issue in a series of stories starting last Friday. The joint statement from from Benacquisto, Dreikorn, and Kreegel reads as follows: Read more.

Florida Senate panel approves ‘pro-life’ abortion bill: A “pro-life” abortion bill passed its second Senate committee on a party line vote Tuesday morning.The bill (SB 918), passing 6-3, would redefine viability and could prohibit certain abortions now legal under Florida law. It also would eliminate late-term abortions for psychological reasons. The bill’s sponsor Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said because of advanced technology viability can now sometimes be determined as early as 20 weeks.“ A woman could still make a decision to have an abortion in the first trimester and a half,” Flores said. “Psychological issues, I would argue, could be determined in the first 20 weeks.” Current state law does not allow abortions after the 24th week of pregnancy, or if a fetus is deemed “viable.” Viable is now defined to mean when a fetus has a reasonable chance of surviving outside of the womb. That definition would be altered to mean when a fetus could be capable of surviving outside of the womb with medical assistance. Under the proposal, a woman could not seek a late-term abortion unless two doctors certified in writing that it was necessary to save her life or to avoid irreversible physical harm. Read more.

Senate favoring big beer over craft breweries, Latvala throws down: Sen. Jack Latvala blasted a beer-growler bill Tuesday as a “tariff” imposed by Tallahassee and a mob-like shakedown of microbrewers by craft beerrequiring them to pay distributors to sell their own bottled beer in their stores. The bill, SB 1714 sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, has been heavily influenced by beer distributors and retailers to crack down on Florida’s exploding craft breweries which want to expand and sell their own craft brews on premises and also in bottles or jugs known as growlers. And Tuesday, the most controversial provisions got a hearing in the Senate Community Affairs Committee.While the bill would legalize the 64-ounce growlers popular in most of the rest of the country, it would also impose new mandates on brewers to force them to operate through the states’ complicated “three-tier” regulation system on booze that separates manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Read more.

Bill advances to allow Florida gun owners to pack concealed heat during evacuations: A bill that allows legal gun owners to conceal their weapons without a permit during mandatory evacuations continued to gain support in the Senate Tuesday despite concerns from law enforcement. The Community Affairs Committee voted 8-1 to pass SB 296, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, that would remove any criminal penalties for those found carrying weapons in public without a permit during evacuations ordered by the governor. Carrying a concealed firearm without a permit is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to a five years in prison. That’s an undue burden on gun owners, said Marion Hammer, the former national president of the National Rifle Association who spoke in support of the bill, along with gun rights group Florida Carry. For them, the bill wasn’t just about defending the 2nd Amendment; it’s also a protection for residents left to fend for themselves during a crisis such as a hurricane. “When an (evacuation) order is given, it sends the message that you’re on your own,” said Hammer. “Sheriff’s deputies aren’t going to be there to help you, the National Guard’s not going to be there to help you. You’ve got to take your family and get out. You’re responsible for their safety. Taking your firearms with you is not only your right, it’s your responsibility.” Read more.

Rick Scott’s team trashes MoveOn.org’s poll: Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with ties to prominent Democrats, took a poll for liberal group MoveOn.org which finds former Gov. Charlie Crist leading Gov. Rick Scott 49 percent to 42 percent. Back in January, a PPP poll found Crist leading 43 percent to 41 percent. A Sunshine State News poll released on Monday finds Scott edging Crist 45 percent to 44 percent. Scott’s team clearly had no use for PPP based on their response on Tuesday morning. “This polling doesn’t pass the common-sense test,” said Greg Blair, a spokesman for the Scott campaign. “A Democratic pollster, working for a Democratic attack group, not only found Charlie Crist winning in Florida, but also claims Republicans are losing noncompetitive races in Kansas and Georgia. Despite the outlandish claims made in this polling, Charlie Crist will continue to be weighed down by the disaster known as Obamacare and his support for the policies of a deeply unpopular president.” Read more.

BONUS: Video: Topless woman in a thong ransacks Florida McDonald’s, then eats ice cream

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