9 Investigates: After balking, Florida House announces it will honor Pulse victims

by: Chris Heath Updated:

© 2017 Cox Media Group.

ORLANDO, Fla. - For weeks leadership within the Florida House was pushing back at honoring the victims of the Pulse terror attack; that has changed.

On Monday morning, Nine Investigates contacted House Rules Chair Rep. Jose Oliva (R-Miami Lakes) and the communications director for Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran (R-Land O' Lakes) to ask why there were no plans to honor the victims of the Pulse attack. 

In November, when the Florida Legislature met to swear in members and conduct an organizational session, the Florida Senate under the leadership of outgoing Senate President Andy Gardiner paused for 49 seconds to honor the 49 lives lost. 

“For those in the Orange County delegation it would mean quite a bit to us" Gardiner told the senators in November.   "We faced one of the worst tragedies at the Pulse nightclub, 49 individuals lost their lives."

While the Senate was pausing to remember Pulse, House leadership according to sources, balked at a similar request for a moment of silence in November.  House leaders continued their opposition to a moment of silence through the winter and as recently as last Friday were still resisting a moment of silence for the full House when members return to Tallahassee in March for the regular session.

In an email to 9 Investigates, a spokesperson for the speaker of the house said, “The itinerary for opening day is not final.  The speaker and chairman (Oliva) are weighing the wishes of the members on a variety of topics, including recognition of people and events.”

Central Florida freshman representative Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando) says late Monday afternoon he was contacted by House leadership anxious to work on a plan to remember Pulse.  Rep. Smith says he does not know what kind of memorial will be planned, but says the change is nonetheless welcome.

Former House member and current Florida Senator, Linda Stewart says it is common to hold moments of silence in the house and that it’s unusual for House leadership to resist such requests.

"It's a way of us showing our condolences to the families," says Sen. Stewart.  “Over in the senate we felt very much compelled to recognize the tragedy that happened."

The Florida Legislature will return to the Capitol on Tuesday, March 7 for the 2017 regular session.