The Senate canceled a meeting scheduled for Tuesday that was expected to include debate about a controversial measure that would expand how and where Florida's more than 1.67 million concealed-weapons license holders can carry handguns.
The cancellation of the Judiciary Committee meeting was posted Wednesday on the Senate website.
Among the topics that had been planned for the meeting was a bill (SB 140) by committee Chairman Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to openly carry handguns in public and also would allow them to be armed on college and university campuses.
Under the bill, they also could carry guns at airport passenger terminals; in elementary and secondary schools; and at legislative and local government meetings.
The delay doesn't jeopardize Steube's bill or other legislation that had been scheduled for discussion Tuesday, as lawmakers have four additional weeks of committee meetings before the annual 60-day session begins March 7.
Katie Betta, a spokeswoman for Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said the meeting was called off because committee member Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, could not attend.
"President Negron canceled the meeting at the request of Chair Steube," Betta said in an email early Wednesday evening. "Senator Garcia indicated that he would need to request an excused absence from the meeting. It is still very early in the committee process and Chair Steube felt it was important to postpone the meeting until all committee members could be present."
Florida Carry, a Second Amendment rights group, had been imploring members via email to contact members of the committee to support the measure.
Meanwhile, the proposal to allow people to carry weapons on college and university campuses has been opposed by higher-education leaders such as Florida State University President John Thrasher, a former House speaker and state senator.
Another proposal (SB 128) that had been scheduled for discussion Tuesday would shift the burden of proof in "stand your ground" self-defense cases to prosecutors during evidentiary hearings.