Next week could be a very big week for gun owners and Second Amendment advocates. There’s a very good chance we’ll see one more more favorable rulings coming out of U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez’s southern California courtroom, while Colorado and Michigan lawmakers could send gun control bills to Democratic governors for their signature.
The biggest news of all is likely to come from Florida and Nebraska, which are poised to give final approval for permitless carry bills early next week. On Friday afternoon, the Florida House of Representatives signed off on HB 543 by a vote of 76-32, with several lawmakers absent. The Florida Senate has its own permitless carry bill on the floor, and lawmakers are expected to start moving it towards a final vote as early as Monday.
On Tuesday Nebraska lawmakers are set for another round of debate and votes on LB 77. The permitless carry legislation passed its first reading in early March, but had been absent from the legislative calendar ever since. As of Friday afternoon, however, LB 77 was on the legislative agenda when lawmakers return from their four-day weekend break.
I’d say that Florida’s in a better position to become the 26th permitless carry state at this point, primarily because the GOP’s majorities in Tallahassee are so large Democrats can’t put up a lengthy fight. In Nebraska the Democratic minority has been filibustering virtually every bill introduced in the unicameral legislature, led by Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh. Legislative progress has almost ground to a halt as Cavanaugh and others have delayed votes by offering up numerous amendments and subjecting as many provisions as possible to as long a debate as the rules allow. As the Daily Mail reported a couple of weeks ago:
Clerk of the Legislature Brandon Metzler said a delay like this has happened only a couple of times in the past 10 years.
‘But what is really uncommon is the lack of bills that have advanced,’ Metzler said. ‘Usually, we’re a lot further along the line than we’re seeing now.’
Only 26 bills have advanced from the first of three rounds of debate required to pass a bill in Nebraska. There would normally be two to three times that number by mid-March, Metzler said.
‘I have nothing, nothing but time,’ she declared at one point. ‘And I am going to use all of it.
‘If people think that they are going to wear me down, if yesterday didn’t show you that you cannot wear me down – you cannot wear me down.
‘I literally left the floor yesterday, went up to my office, and laid down on the floor.
‘I laid down on the floor, a hard floor, and took a 20 minute nap before going to committee hearings. You cannot stop me. I will not be stopped.’
Cavanaugh’s stated reason for the filibuster is SB 574, a bill that, as amended, would ban sex-reassignment surgery from being performed in the state on anyone under the age of 19. After weeks of filibustering, the legislation finally received its first vote on Thursday, but Democrats are likely going to keep the slowdown in place throughout the remainder of the session.
That doesn’t mean that constitutional carry is done for this year. Far from it, as a matter of fact. If LB 77 clears second reading next Tuesday, as expected, only one more vote will need to happen before the bill goes to Gov. Jim Pillen for his signature. Ron DeSantis is probably going to get to put pen to paper first, but I think Pillen is still going to get the opportunity to enshrine constitutional carry into law before this year’s session is over.