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State Lawmakers Polled Over "Stand Your Ground" Special Session

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - Members of the state's Legislature will be polled to see if there is enough support to hold a special session to decide the fate of the state's controversial "stand your ground" law.

House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, announced late Monday that Democrats had gathered the 32 written requests necessary to trigger a poll of lawmakers. If three-fifths of the Legislature agrees -- something that would require a total of 96 lawmakers to go along -- the House and Senate would return to Tallahassee to debate the law.

"I commend those members who have joined me in my request for a special session," Thurston said in a statement issued by his office. "While the House speaker has indicated that the Legislature may hold a hearing later this year on certain policies, including stand your ground, I strongly believe that a special session is the best way to justly address the concerns of our constituents."

Vastly outnumbered Democrats have a week to convince enough Republicans lawmakers to support the special session.

Legislators have until 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 19, to sign and return the poll to the Secretary of State's office. The proposal is an effort to circumvent the opposition to a special session by Scott and Republican legislative leaders.

The process, allowed in state statutes, has never been used before to call a special session.

House Speaker Will Weatherford, who has directed a subcommittee to hold a hearing on the law this fall, said Monday that he hoped both sides will accept the results.

"Once this poll concludes, the question of a special session will be final," Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said in an email. "I trust our protesters will accept the results and return the Capitol back to normal business. It's time."

Most Republicans have resisted changing the law. While Weatherford announced a hearing on the self-defense law, House Criminal Justice Subcommittee Chairman Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, has vowed not to change "one damn comma."

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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