Florida Senate President Bill Galvano rejects special session proposal on police reforms

Bill Galvano
Florida Senate President Bill Galvano Credit: CD Davidson-Hiers/Florida Phoenix

Senate President Bill Galvano turned down a request Tuesday to call a special session for police reforms following the death of George Floyd and nationwide protests over police shootings of black people.

Orlando Democratic state Sen. Randolph Bracy has proposed a special legislative session to confront police violence, especially against communities of color. Colin Hackley photo.

Orlando State Sen. Randolph Bracy, a Democrat representing part of Orange County, proposed the special session in a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis, House Speaker José Oliva and Galvano.

Galvano responded to Bracy’s letter by saying: “There is definitely a role for the Senate in helping to craft a comprehensive solution, but not a solution that can be achieved in a time-limited special session without more consideration and understanding of what will work to solve the problem.”

He added: “As I have shared with you previously, I take very seriously and will thoughtfully review any suggestions for how action by the Legislature can address the very serious issue of equal justice in our state, and have been honored to partner with you to that end during my term as Senate President.”

Galvano acknowledged that “the horrific actions and inactions of the Minneapolis police officers that resulted in the death of Mr. (George) Floyd have generated a renewed sense of priority across the nation in addressing the kinds of criminal justice reforms this Senate has pursued and passed in recent years.”

He also added that he supports peaceful protests in the state.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has the authority to call the state Legislature into special session, and so does the House Speaker and Senate President through a joint proclamation.

It’s unclear if the governor will use his powers to initiate a special session.

“While it is very important to me that the Senate remain a forum for the exchange of ideas in this critical area of public policy, the conversation is complex. Minnesota, like many states including ours, is no stranger to criminal justice reform and yet injustice persists,” Galvano said in the letter to Bracy.

In a previous Florida Phoenix report, Bracy said during a news conference that he’s compiled a total of 10 proposals for the Legislature to consider.

“I and many others have worked on these proposals for years. But they have been largely ignored,” Bracy said. “I believe innocent lives may be lost while we wait.”