Issue 29, July 17th

Last week we had a fantastic turnout for Charles McBurney’s final “Legislative Roundup” at SBMC.  More than 70 people attended the meeting, and we had a few special surprises in store, check out our Facebook page for photographs.  Melissa Nelson, candidate for State Attorney, was our “Candidate Spotlight” speaker and gave a fantastic presentation on why she was running.  Additionally, Steve Johnston conveyed to her the success rate of club members having run for office…the board approved her application about an hour later!  I don’t know the last time we had a State Attorney as a member of our club, maybe that’ll change next month.

Ron Mallett gave a very heartwarming introduction, and Charles recapped the most recent session.  He took the opportunity to express his gratitude for our club’s support of him over the years every time he ran.  Charles stated it was because of said support he was able to make a difference in Tallahassee.  I’m reminded of when I first met Charles and immediately grew an immense respect for him and his efforts.  Coming into office basically as the economy was melting down is no way you hope to begin your career in the legislature.  However, Charles made the best of it and worked with his fellow members in the House and the Senate to “right the ship” of Florida.  One of the first bills I recall hearing him mention he sponsored, was one requiring civics education for Florida school children.  At the time he found many couldn’t name the 3 branches of government, but they knew all 3 judges on “American Idol.”  Charles sponsored this Bill along with many others over his 9 years in the state legislature.  Gene Bushor asked Charles to explain his side of the story on what happened with Marian Hammer and the recent scandal.  This is one of the attributes I consider most impressive about our membership, SBMC members look beneath the surface of an issue to get the FULL TRUTH.

Charles explained the proposed legislation, in the mind of a former prosecutor, would’ve “victimized victims” and required the prosecution to basically prove their case in a pretrial motion.  Now I’m no attorney so apologies in advance for any mistyping.  But after Charles having explained it to me about 3 times, here’s how I understand his position.  In ANY pretrial motion, the burden of proof is on the party making the motion.  Currently, anyone pursuing immunity per the “Stand your ground” law is required to prove why they were justified in the shooting…seems pretty fair right?  If they’re not found immune and it goes to trial, currently the burden of proof is still on the prosecution in a trial just like always.  Under this bill, the burden of proof would still be on the prosecution during trial BUT ALSO in the pretrial motion.  Basically if I shot my wife, claimed she came at me with a weapon, and I was justified in killing her, my attorney currently has to show how I was justified.  This bill would have made me automatically justified, and the prosecution would’ve had to have proven I wasn’t before even going to trial.

Coincidentally in Ms. Nelson’s speech, she explained her motivation for running have served on both sides of the courtroom.  She explained the immense power wielded by the State Attorney, and the need to respect it and consider all aspects of a case in order for justice to be served.  Now we had a debate a few months ago where the murder rate was discussed.  It was mentioned to have decreased WITH EXCEPTION to areas involving domestic violence where it had increased…Thank you Charles for making the tough decisions for us as an informed representative.  As I stated on Wednesday, whenever you decide for what office you’ll run for next, I’ll be first in line to help knock on doors and tell voters why they should support our friend.

This week we’ll take a break from our run of political programs and hear from Hugh Greene, President and CEO of Baptist Health.  It’s been a few years since Mr. Greene has spoken at SBMC and upon request, he responded to our email within moments to coordinate the earliest possible date.  He’ll give an update of the impact of the Affordable Care Act from his perspective, now having been in force for a few years.  Additionally, he’ll speak on the growth and success of Baptist Health.  I think sometimes we take for granted how fortunate we are to have so many great hospital organizations in Jacksonville; particularly so many based locally.  Baptist, Wolfson, St. Vincents, Memorial, Shands, Mayo…talk about having options and now most have urgent care centers spread throughout town.

Finally, our “Candidate Spotlight” this week will be slightly different as we’ll hear from Trey Price who is working on the Solar Energy initiative on the ballot.  I can’t speak for the rest of NE Florida, but I know SBMC members will be some of the most informed voters in their polling places.  We advised Mr. Price on remarks made by Paul McElroy when he spoke just a few weeks ago on this issue to allow him to prepare accordingly.

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