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Wheeling and dealing in safety


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 5, 2000

A Tampa lawmaker suggested Tuesday he will not let his committee consider a gun safety bill unless the lawmaker supporting it lends him a legislative hand.

Republican Sen. John Grant, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he will put Sen. Betty Holzendorf's "trigger lock" bill on the committee's agenda only if she persuades lawmakers to consider a seat belt safety bill he has failed to get passed. "I gave her a little challenge," Grant said Tuesday. "If we're going to do anything about safety, let's talk about seat belts."

Holzendorf was caught off guard. "That's news to me," she said. "I'm not bargaining with John."

Minutes later, the two sat beside each other at a meeting of the Senate Commerce and Economic Opportunities Committee. They talked quietly, smiling occasionally.

"We're talking," Holzendorf, a Democrat from Jacksonville, said later. Her bill would require most gun owners to put trigger locks on their weapons and could lead to criminal charges for those who do not. Gun lobbyists strongly oppose it.

Grant's bill would let law officers stop motorists solely for not wearing seat belts.

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