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House passes handcuff key ban

By JO BECKER

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 13, 2000


Prompted by a murderous rampage that began in Tampa, House lawmakers unanimously passed a bill Wednesday making it a third-degree felony for a person taken into custody to possess a concealed handcuff key.

The danger of handcuff keys was brought home with bloody clarity by Hank Earl Carr's 1998 rampage.

Tampa police officers, not suspecting Carr was a dangerous felon, mistakenly cuffed him in front. Carr, who had shot his girlfriend's child, managed to unlock his restraints with a handcuff key he kept around his neck.

He murdered his two arresting officers and gunned down a state trooper at a Pasco exit ramp before killing himself in a Hernando County gas station.

The bill now goes to Gov. Jeb Bush.

Bill on PSC nominators passes

House lawmakers took steps to curb the power of a panel that shapes the appointed body that regulates state utilities.

With unusual speed and no debate, the House unanimously passed a measure that limits to four years the terms of the nine members of the council that nominates candidates for the Public Service Commission.

The council submits at least three nominees to the governor, who then makes the final selection.

Some say the measure is aimed at the chairman of that panel, Miami businessman Andy Blank. Critics say Blank's long tenure has put him under increasing influence by utility companies that want to steer the nominating process.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

For information about legislation, call (800) 342-1827 during business hours. Online Sunshine, a computer users' guide to the Florida Legislature, is available at http://www.leg.state.fl.us</SMALL>

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