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FDLE proposes new 'Dream Defender law' restricting public access to the Capitol building

11:32 AM, Sep 25, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- State police plan to limit public access to the Capitol building complex after hours as part of the changes being made to the Capitol Security Plan.

The plan proposed by the Fla. Dept. of Law Enforcement would limit the public to visiting the Capitol Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 30 minutes following a Legislative or Executive meeting. The building will be closed during the weekend and holidays.

Any person asked to exit the Capitol building by Capitol Police after hours and refuses to do so is subject to arrest for trespassing. In addition, occupancy level restrictions will be enforced and individuals may be asked to leave to adhere to the restriction. A failure to leave after request may end in citation or arrest.

Any overnight stays in the interior public access portions of the Capitol are strictly prohibited. In addition, the preparation or storage of food or drink in hallways and public access portions without prior permission.

Following a public records request submitted by the FSView & Florida Flambeau, the FDLE sent a document outlining the above changes to the Capitol Security Plan. However, the full Capitol Security Plan was not released under protection of the state's open-records law as it "is not intended for public viewing."

"The suggested changes are directed at enabling Capitol Police to better secure the Capitol building complex property, safeguard those who work and visit within the Capitol and ensure security services are provided in the most efficient manner," according to the document.

The proposal is in part response to the Dream Defenders' 31-day sit-in at the Capitol building this summer, when the group protested the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of 17-year old Trayvon Martin. The Dream Defenders demanded Gov. Rick Scott to change legislation regarding state laws on self-defense, racial profiling and school discipline.

Although the new changes are colloquially being called the "Dream Defender Law," FDLE spokesperson Gretl Plessinger said that the proposal were recommendations to the security plan and that they are not a new law. The proposal still needs approval by Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford in writing before these new recommendations will be enforced. There is also a requirement that the State Fire Marshall be consulted before official approval.

Tallahassee Democrat

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