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Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

Secession rally held in Okeechobee

Sunday, August 14th, 2016
Yesterday members of the Florida League of the South rallied in Okeechobee to spread the message of secession and independence. The rally was held at the main intersection of town

Florida League stands against Communists in Miami

Monday, July 25th, 2016
During the next few days, while the Democratic National Convention is starting up in Philadelphia; Bernie Sanders supporters are gathering.  #MarchForBernieUSA will be hosting rallies in cities across the United

Statement from The League of the South on Orlando, Florida

Sunday, June 12th, 2016
12 June 2016 In a free & independent South, Islam would be banned, Muslims deported, and all mosques closed down. The ownership of firearms, including military grade, would be encouraged

Florida LS State Conference

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
The Florida League of the South will hold its Annual State Conference on Saturday, 4 June 2016 at Jacksonville Public Library West Branch. (1425 Chaffee Rd S, Jacksonville, Florida 32221)

League speaks at Confederate rally in Florida

Monday, August 3rd, 2015
Several members of the Florida League of the South attended a Confederate Flag Pride Ride yesterday. Over 200 trucks drove through northern Florida with various Confederate flags flying in the

Police disrupt Confederate flag rally in Tampa

Monday, June 29th, 2015
Yesterday towards the end of a Confederate flag rally on a Tampa overpass, over half a dozen police cars showed up. The officers said they were responding to a call

Police disrupt Confederate flag rally in Tampa

Sunday, June 28th, 2015
Yesterday towards the end of a Confederate flag rally on a Tampa overpass, over half a dozen police cars showed up. The officers said they were responding to a call


Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

If you thought utility workers in Connecticut being pelted with eggs and then subsequently put under police protection while they were working to help Hurricane Sandy victims was bad, wait until you hear about what happened to an out-of-state electrician in New York.

WTSP reported that John Applewhite, an electrician from Florida helping restore power on Long Island, was beaten to the point where he now has a broken jaw, among other facial fractures, and a black eye.

Florida Electrician Has Jaw Broken in Attack While Helping Restore Power in Long Island

John Applewhite spoke about the incident from his hospital bed in Florida. (Image: WTSP screenshot)

Applewhite, who is now back in Florida awaiting surgery, said he doesn’t know what spurred his attacker to single him out. WTSP reported Applewhite’s recollection of the incident:

“He met me halfway between my truck and his vehicle, and just as I got within arm’s reach, he decked me,” said John Applewhite.

Applewhite doesn’t know why he was attacked or by whom. Police say its was a guy in a black BMW who took off after the assault.

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Murder suspect scolded by judge

Monday, July 16th, 2012

man charged for the murders of two young mothers was scolded by a judge, but not for the details in his alleged crime what he did in court.

“I’m not interested in anything you have to say, I’m talking about your conduct you don’t walk away in the middle of a hearing…I’m going to see you Tuesday for a contempt hearing and I think it’s time for you to grow up and I think it’s time for you to learn how to behave in a courtroom…your conduct is despicable,” Judge Daniel Ramczyk said.

Saturday was the first time Alfonso Thompson, 36, faced a judge for the murder charges.

Instead of listening to the judge, Thompson just walked away upsetting Judge Daniel Ramczyk.

Thompson, along with his girlfriend Shalaka Booker, are accused of killing May Valerio and Naomi Trujillo at an Albuquerque apartment complex in April.

Police say the three women got into an argument.

Then Thompson allegedly got involved shooting and killing the victims.

Thompson is still in jail without bond.

Shalaka Booker also faces murder charges.

Her bond was set at $750,000, cash-only Friday.

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Disgraced Lawyer Attempts Return To World Of Nazi Art Theft

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Ed Fagan, the lawyer who once won big settlements for Holocaust survivors and South African apartheid victims and was later disbarred in New York and New Jersey, is attempting a comeback. Kind of.

In April, Fagan filed a lawsuit in a U.S. District Court in Florida on behalf of the Victims of Holocaust Art Theft against the Czech Republic, the National Gallery in Prague, and the Museum of Decorative Arts of Prague. The suit seeks the recovery of valuable artwork owned by Richard and Regina Popper, prominent Czech-Jewish art collectors who were deported from Prague to the Lodz Ghetto, where they were killed in early 1940s.

This week, U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn in Florida wrote an order stating that the case cannot proceed without a proper attorney involved.

The April complaint said that Victims of Holocaust Art Theft “is a business registered in Florida and in this judicial district, is an owner of certain interests in The Popper Collection, [and] is a limited partner with and has limited but express authority [of] Michal Klepetár, one of The Popper Heirs.” It also said that the group’s formation “is the result of agreements, cooperation and partnering between / of Edward D. Fagan and Michal Klepetár.” In his order this week, Cohn wrote that although it is clear Fagan filed the complaint as a “pro se” representative of the group, a licensed attorney is required to represent corporations, partnerships, or associations in federal court.

“If no attorney appears on Plaintiff’s behalf by [July 5, 2012], the Court will dismiss this action without prejudice and close the case,” Cohn wrote.

Fagan was disbarred in New York in 2008, and in New Jersey in 2009, for misappropriating client funds. Last month, Fagan exchanged emails with The South Florida Sun Sentinel about his new case.

“I am not the Ed Fagan of years ago, about whom some people complained, and on whom other people gave accolades. They took my license, but not my brains,” Fagan wrote from Prague. “I am very proud of what I am now doing and hopefully I can be judged by who I am and what I am doing today — not based on the past.”

Fagan did not return an email Thursday from TPM seeking comment.

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George Zimmerman’s bond revoked; prosecutors say he, his wife conspired to lie about donations

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

A judge revoked the bond of the neighborhood watch volunteer charged with killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and ordered him returned to jail within 48 hours.

Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said Friday that George Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, misled the court about how much money they had available when his bond was set for $150,000 in April. Prosecutors claim Zimmerman had $135,000 available that had been raised by a website he set up.

Zimmerman’s wife testified at the bond hearing that they had limited funds available since she was a nursing student and Zimmerman wasn’t working.

“He can’t sit back and obtain the benefit of a lower bond based upon those material falsehoods,” Lester said.

Defense attorney Mark O’Mara said the fact that Zimmerman and his wife never used the money for anything indicated “there was no deceit.”

Prosecutor Bernie De la Rionda described the Zimmermans’ testimony as “misleading.”

“This court was led to believe they didn’t have a single penny,” said De la Rionda. “It was misleading and I don’t know what words to use other than it was a blatant lie.”

Read the prosecutors’ motion to revoke Zimmerman’s bond

Prosecutors also said Zimmerman had failed to surrender a second passport, but the judge dismissed that concern as the equivalent of someone who has lost a driver’s license, applies for a new one and then finds the old driver’s license.

Zimmerman is pleading not guilty to second-degree murder and claims self-defense. Zimmerman shot Martin in February during a confrontation at a gated community of townhouses in Sanford, Fla., where Zimmerman lived and where Martin was visiting his father’s fiancee.

The delay in an arrest for 44 days prompted protests nationwide and led to Sanford’s police chief stepping aside so emotions could cool down.

At Friday’s court hearing, De la Rionda and O’Mara also asked a judge to stop the public release of witness names and statements made by Zimmerman to police officers. Those documents normally are part of the public record under Florida law.

“What’s occurring, unfortunately, are cases are being tried in the public sector as opposed to in the courtroom,” De La Rionda said. “We are in a new age with Twitter, Facebook, and all these things I’ve never heard of before in my career. Everybody gets to find out intimate details about witnesses that never occurred before. Witnesses are going to be reluctant to get involved.”

A consortium of more than a dozen media groups, including The Associated Press, asked the judge to ignore the request, saying such records are presumed to be publicly available under Florida law.

Rachel Fugate, an attorney for the Orlando Sentinel, cited the Casey Anthony trial as an example of a highly publicized case in which a jury was able to be seated despite intense media coverage. The Florida mother was acquitted last year of killing her 2-year-old daughter.

“Discovery in Florida has traditionally been open … and Florida hasn’t encountered problems seating juries and giving defendants fair trials,” Fugate said.

O’Mara said Friday on a website that he doesn’t expect the case to be ready for trial until next year.

O’Mara said he expects to call on 50 witnesses who need to be deposed before he decides whether to file a “stand your ground” motion which would ask for a hearing before a judge without a jury. At the hearing, Zimmerman would argue self-defense under the Florida law which gives wide latitude to use deadly force rather than retreat in a fight if people believe they are in danger of being killed or seriously injured.

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1 in 18 Bay County residents have concealed carry permits

Monday, May 21st, 2012

One in every 18 Bay County residents might be carrying a gun when you pass them on the street.

The number of concealed carry weapons permits in Florida is continuing to rise, according to information published by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the agency responsible for issuing CCW permits. As of April 30, there were 935,813 CCW permits issued in Florida and 9,174 of those permit holders reside in Bay County.

Firearms instructor Billy Lake who teaches concealed carry classes at Jay’s Guns & Accessories IV on State Avenue, said he sees people from 21 years old, the minimum age to obtain a permit, to people in their 80s in his classes. He teaches basic firearms safety and laws to 35 to 50 people per week. They are men and women from all races and socioeconomic groups with all levels of experience with guns, but Lake said they have one thing in common — fear.

Tyler Hill, who wants to be a law enforcement officer and enjoys target practice, said at only 19 years old, he can’t get a concealed carry permit yet, but he plans to when he turns 21.

“The way I see it, criminals are always going to have a gun and if someone who should be able to defend themselves can’t, the criminal’s already halfway won,” he said.

The leading reason people get a CCW permit is for personal protection, according to Lake.

“We don’t have more crime,” he said. “Violent crime is down in Bay County… you would think people would be less likely (to want a permit) but crime is getting more brazen.”

With crime entering neighborhoods where it was virtually nonexistent even a few years before — Lake pointed to a rash of car burglaries last winter in Bay Point — people feel vulnerable, he said.

“The first thing everyone thinks of is a concealed carry permit and it is exactly the wrong first reaction,” he said.

Lake said he always tells people a CCW permit is only one, and the most extreme, option available for personal protection. Using a firearm should always be a last resort, he said. Just having the tool seems to provide psychological comfort for most people, Lake said.

The requirements for obtaining a CCW permit in Florida are simple. An applicant only has to have a firearms instructor certify they can load, discharge and unload a gun properly, so Lake said he spends the majority of his five-hour classes talking about gun safety and the laws surrounding having a CCW permit, particularly where a weapon can and cannot be carried. Since he became an NRA certified firearms instructor in 2008, Lake said he has heard some crazy misconceptions people have regarding the laws of having and using firearms.

“The craziest one is if you shoot someone on your front porch, no, you should not drag them inside your house,” Lake said and shook his head.

The most common misconception is how firearms can be carried in a vehicle. Even without a concealed carry permit, weapons can be carried in a car provided they are in a sealed container. That could include a glove box, a covered center console or a gym bag in the back seat, he said.

Another topic that frequently comes up in recent classes is the Trayvon Martin shooting, according to Lake. He said he tries to answer questions to the best of his knowledge, but doesn’t consider it a good example of CCW use and rules, or self-defense use and rules.

Maj. Tommy Ford of the Bay County Sheriff’s Office said the increased number of people carrying concealed weapons has not led to any new or increased problems for law enforcement from his perspective.

“We find that people who go through the proper channels are not the people who cause us problems,” he said.

Safety is the most important thing CCW permit holders can be aware of, Lake said. There are three basic rules to carrying and handling firearms – all guns are loaded, don’t point it at anything you don’t intend to destroy, and keep your finger off the trigger unless you are planning to shoot.

“Anytime you treat a gun like it’s not loaded is when you’re going to get an accident,” he said.

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Neo-Nazis Send Photos of Two Unarmed Members in Sanford, Insist They Really Do Exist

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Attacked from across the political spectrum for exaggerating their “armed patrols” in Sanford, neo-Nazis have fired back — with pictures of two people holding a Nazi flag in the central Florida town.

No guns. Virtually no proof to back up their claims there are “ten to 20 people” in the area. “We’re here to hopefully keep violence from breaking out,” says one of the people in the photo, a 33-year-old Hernando County resident who gave his name as Anthony Rushford. “We’re just out here taking a stance for the white community. Of course, bearing the swastika, people confuse us with some of the other knucklehead groups that just run around acting like fools.”

Sanford police issued the following statement in response to the pictures: “The photograph shows two alleged members of NSM with a possible third (taking the photograph), at night at city hall and across the street at Veterans Memorial Park. This by no means indicates a significant presence of the organization in Sanford.”

The photos came to New Times from National Socialist Movement leader Jeff Schoep. Schoep continues to be hazy about how many of his Hitler-loving kinsmen have set up shop in Sanford in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s shooting, but he swears the two people photographed are not the only Nazis in town.

The others “don’t want to be photographed,” he says; the two pictured — Rushford and an unidentified woman — didn’t pose with their guns because they were worried about breaking Florida law.


Rushford, meanwhile, says he’s in Sanford to “protect whites… We’re here and we’re going to continue to be here as long as people want us here.”

Neo-Nazis Sanford 2.jpg
Neo-Nazis posing in front of Sanford’s Recreation Department

Miami New Times disclosed the group’s presence in the area last week.

According to Rushford and Schoep, the NSM is also passing out flyers advertising its presence in town. Apparently, the group was stung by a recent Wall Street Journal op-edpiece that denied their arrival in Sanford.

“I didn’t really appreciate that Wall Street Journal article,” Schoep said.

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Police Car Shot Up in Trayvon Martin’s Neighborhood

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Six shots were fired into an empty police cruiser early today in the Florida neighborhood where black teenager Trayvon Martin was shot and killed as the mayor warned that the town has become a “kindling box.”

No one was injured in the 4:30 a.m. shooting at the Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Fla. Police removed the vehicle and have begun an investigation.
The shooting occurred as tensions continue in this small middle class city. One official told ABC News tension could soon reaching a boiling point.

ABC News has learned that the emergency operation centers of three counties have been activated at Level II, the same level of preparedness used ahead of a hurricane.

“Are we a kindling box? Sure,” said Mayor Jeff Triplett. “But we’re working down a path and so far it’s been absolutely peaceful.”

Capt. Robert O’Connor of the Sanford Police Department told ABC News, “Law enforcement agencies in the area are monitoring a variety of activities and groups to ensure that conditions remain peaceful.”

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Blacks, Nonblacks Hold Sharply Different Views of Martin Case

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Black Americans‘ views differ dramatically from those of nonblacks regarding the circumstances involved in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26. Blacks are paying much closer attention to the news of the incident; overwhelmingly believe that George Zimmerman, the individual who shot Martin, is guilty of a crime; believe that racial bias was a major factor in the events leading up to the shooting; and believe that Zimmerman would already have been arrested had the victim been white, not black.

Questions on Trayvon Martin case, April 2012

These results are from an April 2-4 USA Today/Gallup poll of 3,006 Americans, including 242 blacks, conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking. Martin’s death has sparked national interest and, more recently, protests, because Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, was not arrested after he claimed self-defense under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. With many black leaders and others calling for Zimmerman’s arrest and charging racism against the Sanford police department, the case has clearly captured the attention of the large majority of black Americans across the country.

The 52% of blacks who say they are following the news about the Trayvon Martin case very closely contrasts sharply with the 19% of nonblacks who are paying equally close attention. More broadly, eight in 10 blacks are following the story either very or somewhat closely, compared with 59% of nonblacks.

Blacks More Sure That Zimmerman Is Guilty, Racial Bias a Factor

Blacks are much more likely than nonblacks to have an opinion about Zimmerman’s guilt. Overall, 72% of blacks say Zimmerman is definitely or probably guilty of a crime; 1% say he is not. Nonblacks also say Zimmerman is guilty, by 32% to 7%, but well over half of nonblacks say Zimmerman’s guilt is unclear from the available information.

Blacks are more certain about their opinions than are nonblacks. Blacks who say Zimmerman is guilty of a crime are significantly more likely to say he is definitely guilty than probably guilty, while nonblacks tilt more toward the “probably guilty” choice.

Additionally, 72% of blacks say racial bias was a major factor in the events that led up to the shooting death of Martin, with another 13% saying it was a minor factor. Nonblacks, on the other hand, are significantly less certain, with 31% saying racial bias was a major factor, 26% saying it was a minor factor, and 25% saying it was not a factor at all.

Blacks Say Zimmerman Would Have Been Arrested if Victim Had Been White

A final question included in the poll asked if Zimmerman would have been arrested under the same circumstances if the person he shot was white.

Consistent with the widespread view among blacks that racial bias was a factor in the events surrounding the shooting, blacks overwhelmingly (73%) say Zimmerman would have been arrested had the victim been white. Nonblacks, on the other hand, tilt toward the view that race did not make a difference in the Zimmerman situation (49%), with 35% saying he would have arrested had the victim been white.


U.S. public opinion about the Trayvon Martin case in Florida reflects the same type of racial divide found in 1995 surveys asking about the murder trial of O.J. Simpson in Los Angeles. In one Gallup poll conducted Oct. 5-7, 1995, for example, 78% of blacks said the jury that found Simpson not guilty of murder made the right decision, while only 42% of whites agreed.

The situation in the Trayvon Martin case is different from the Simpson situation, however, because the victim, rather than the alleged perpetrator, is black. Still, both situations, even though 17 years apart, apparently tap into the same deeply felt views of the average black American that the criminal justice system in America is biased against blacks. Underscoring this conclusion, a 2008 Gallup Minority Rights and Relations survey found that 67% of blacks said the American justice system was biased against blacks, a viewpoint only 32% of non-Hispanic whites agreed with.

Blacks across the country are clearly following and thinking about the Martin case, exemplified by the extraordinary 80% who say they are following the news about it closely. This level of attention to the case comes at a time when a number of prominent black activists and politicians have taken up the case as a cause. MSNBC talk show host Al Sharpton broadcast live from Sanford, Fla., for several days, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and well-known black activists also went to Sanford, black Congressman Bobby Rush of Illinois wore a “hoodie” into Congress to express his concern about the case, and President Obama himself got involved in his responses to questions about the case — saying if he had a son, he would have looked like Martin.

The average black American has strong views on the case, perceiving that Zimmerman is guilty of a crime and that race has played a major factor in the case. Nonblacks, by contrast, are much less likely to think Zimmerman is guilty and are substantially less likely to believe that race was a factor.

The next steps in the Trayvon Martin case are unclear at this point. Florida’s governor has appointed a special prosecutor to look into the case, and a grand jury is slated to review the case on Tuesday. It is possible that Zimmerman will ultimately be arrested and will stand trial. Whatever happens, however, it is clear that the case struck a highly responsive chord with blacks across the country, and that blacks’ immediate judgments are that this represents still another example of a racially biased criminal justice system.

Survey MethodsResults for this USA Today/Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking April 2-4, 2012, with a random sample of 3,006 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.

For results based on the total sample of 242 blacks, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±8 percentage points.

For results based on the total sample of 2,764 nonblacks, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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Zimmerman Was on the Ground Being Punched When He Shot Trayvon Martin

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Last weekend in the city of Chicago alone, gangbangers slaughtered ten people and wounded another forty. The youngest fatality is only six years old. The youngest person wounded is only one year old. Many of the victims were pedestrians sprayed with bullets in drive by shootings. The national news has said nothing about this.

So why does one shooting in Florida warrant weeks of national news? Why have there been thousands of articles each day, for the last four days, about one single shooting?

Almost all of the news items about George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin contains a combination of false statements, opinions presented as facts, transparent distortions, and a complete absence of some of the most relevant details. Almost all news items are written solely from the point of view of the grieving family. The media also fills their articles with outdated baby-faced pictures of Trayvon. Very few include that he was a towering 6’2” football player. Is the media really reporting the news, or is this classic agitation/propaganda to advance a political agenda?

Literally thousands of articles contain at least one false statement in the first couple of lines. They usually read “George ZImmerman, a white man,” or “shot by a white man.” Zimmerman is described by family as a multiracial Hispanic. His appearance is clearly that of a Latino/Mestizo individual. However, the media wants him to be white because that better fits the political narrative they are trying to create. Many news articles have also claimed the neighborhood is “mostly white.” This is also a lie. The neighborhood is only 49% white. It is over half non-white.

All the way back on February 27th, the local Orlando Fox station interviewed the witness who dialed 911. Almost none of the thousands of articles since have mentioned any of the details described by the witness. Some, however, have attributed false statements to this witness. On March 16th, the Sanford police department released new details to the Orlando Sentinel. Once again, these details have been ignored or changed by the media.

  1. The witness reports that George Zimmerman was on the ground and Trayvon is on top of him punching him.
  2. The witness says that George Zimmerman was screaming and yelling for help.
  3. Police arrive and find Zimmerman bleeding on his face and the back of his head. He also has had grass stains on his back. All this confirms the story told by Zimmerman and the witness.
  4. Police play the 911 tape for Trayvon Martin’s father, who tells police that the voice screaming is not the voice of his son.

The neighborhood this took place in has seen a lot of crime. Would you be surprised to learn that there were eight burglaries, nine thefts, and a shooting just in the past year? In fact, the local homeowners’ association reports that George Zimmerman actually caught one thief and aided in the apprehension of other criminals. The Miami Herald wrote about this on March 17th. None of the thousands of articles and cable news segments that came after thought this was important.

In fact the Miami Herald goes on to interview neighbor Ibrahim Rashada, who is black. Rashada ​confirms that there has been a lot of crime in the neighborhood and indicates to the reporter that the perpetrators are usually black.

The media also characterizes Trayvon as a “model student.” In fact, he was under a five day suspension when the shooting took place. That is why he was staying at a house so far from his school on a school night. A lawyer for Trayvon’s family has blocked access to his school records. However, you have to do something pretty bad to get suspended for five days.

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Plans to drug test welfare recipients get momentum

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Conservatives who say welfare recipients should have to pass a drug test to receive government assistance have momentum on their side.

The issue has come up in the Republican presidential campaign, with front-runner Mitt Romney saying it’s an “excellent idea.”

Nearly two dozen states are considering plans this session that would make drug testing mandatory for welfare recipients, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And Wyoming lawmakers advanced such a proposal this week.

Driving the measures is a perception that people on public assistance are misusing the funds and that cutting off their benefits would save money for tight state budgets — even as statistics have largely proved both notions untrue.

“The idea, from Joe Taxpayer is, `I don’t mind helping you out, but you need to show that you’re looking for work, or better yet that you’re employed, and that you’re drug and alcohol free,'” said Wyoming Republican House Speaker Ed Buchanan on Friday.

Supporters are pushing the measures despite warnings from opponents that courts have struck down similar programs, ruling that the plans amount to an unconstitutional search of people who have done nothing more than seek help.

“This legislation assumes suspicion on this group of people. It assumes that they’re drug abusers,” said Wyoming Democratic Rep. Patrick Goggles during a heated debate on the measure late Thursday.

The proposals aren’t new, according to the NCSL. About three dozen states have taken up such measures over the years.

But as lawmakers seek new ways to fight off the effect of the recession on state budgets and Republican politics dominate the national discussion as the party seeks a presidential nominee, the idea has sparked political debates across the nation.

This year conservative lawmakers in 23 states from Wyoming to Mississippi — where lawmakers want random screening to include nicotine tests — are moving forward with proposals of their own.

Romney, in an interview this month in Georgia, supported the idea. “People who are receiving welfare benefits, government benefits, we should make sure they’re not using those benefits to pay for drugs,” Romney said to WXIA-TV in Atlanta.

Newt Gingrich addressed the topic with Yahoo News in November, saying he considered testing as a way to curb drug use and lower related costs to public programs.

“It could be through testing before you get any kind of federal aid — unemployment compensation, food stamps, you name it,” he said.

In Idaho, budget analysts last year concluded that such a program would cost more money than it would save, prompting lawmakers to ditch the idea.

Also, recent federal statistics indicate that welfare recipients are no more likely to abuse drugs than the general population.

Data show that about 8 percent of the population uses drugs. And before a random drug testing program in Michigan was put on hold by a court challenge, about 8 percent of its public assistance applicants tested positive.

In years past such legal challenges had a chilling effect on state legislatures, but that seems to have thawed.

Michigan’s program was halted after five weeks in 1999, eventually ending with an appeals court ruling that it was unconstitutional.

For more than a decade, no other state moved to implement such a law.

“The biggest piece that has held up action now and in the past are the constitutional questions,” said Rochelle Finzel, the Children and Families Program manager at the NCSL.

But Florida last year passed legislation that was eventually halted by a federal court ruling that cited constitutional concerns.

Finzel said some states are trying to avoid court challenges by requiring drug tests only in cases where there’s reasonable cause to believe there’s substance abuse, instead of requiring everyone to take a test.

Missouri took that approach in passing a law last year that hasn’t gotten tied up in court, but which has touched off an attempt at political one-upsmanship from a House Republican who introduced a bill this month that would require his colleagues at the state Capitol to take and pass the same test.

In Wyoming, the Republican-controlled state House handily approved a welfare drug testing bill after a fiery debate Thursday. The plan sailed through a second vote Friday and needs only one more reading before heading to the solidly-conservative state Senate, where a key leader supports the concept.

In Colorado, a testing plan is expected to fail because Democrats who oppose it control the state Senate — but Republicans have succeeded in starting a conversation on the issue.

“If you can afford to buy drugs, and use drugs, you don’t need” welfare, said Republican Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, who is sponsoring a bill this session.

Sonnenberg said his bill also seeks to help drug users get clean because applicants must complete rehab to qualify for government aid again.

Sonnenberg’s critics said the idea feeds off the negative — and unsubstantiated — stereotype that low-income communities are more likely to use drugs. Sonnenberg said he’s not picking on any group, and pointed out that the legislation would likely have a narrow effect.

“The five percent, or the four percent, or whatever that percentage is that is on drugs, will have a choice to make. They will either do what they can to get clean, or not have their (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) funds,” he said.

In Wyoming, Republican Rep. Frank Peasley, a co-sponsor of the testing bill, said the measure is an effort to rein in a welfare system run amok.

“We are going broke,” he said,

But Linda Burt, director of the ACLU in Wyoming, said this week it’s possible her group would challenge the testing program if it’s adopted in Wyoming.

“We challenged it in Michigan. We challenged it in Florida. Both of those cases found that singling out this particular group of people for drug testing was unconstitutional with absolutely no cause.”

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