Christian Coalition praises Paul Renner for justice reform

Originally posted on Florida Politics

The Christian Coalition of Florida says Palm Bay Rep. Paul Renner is a friend of the family.

The conservative group on Friday granted the Republican lawmaker its “Friend of the Family” award for his role in passing a criminal justice reform package in the 2019 Legislative Session.

HB 7125, sponsored by Renner, softened up some of Florida’s criminal code, including the felony threshold, which was bumped to $750 after sitting at $300 for decades. The measure also eliminates felony charges for driver caught without a license three times absent aggravating factors such as driving under the influence.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law in late June.

“Representative Renner has been a tremendous advocate for Florida’s families, working to make our state a safer and better place for all,” said Brett Ramsden, Florida Justice Initiatives director for the coalition.

“We were happy to present him today with a ‘Friend of the Family’ award for his incredible leadership in the Legislature this session, passing important legislation that created a chance for redemption and second chances for those who make mistakes, while extending resources for crime victims.”

Beverly McClain, a crime survivor and chapter leader for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, said, “We are eternally grateful for Representative Renner for standing up for the rights of crime victims and working with us to advance smart policies that improve safety and justice in Florida.

“The bipartisan bill he co-sponsored, HB 7125, is the most comprehensive criminal justice reform in Florida in the past 20 years, which will help thousands of crime victims across our state. We look forward to continuing to work with Rep. Renner and his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to improve Florida’s criminal justice system next session.”

Renner’s bill passed the House unanimously and earned the support of all but one state senator. The reforms have earned lauds from other organizations, including conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperty Florida, though some lawmakers argued it didn’t go far enough.

“I am honored to receive this award from the Christian Coalition, and am happy to join them in their mission to improve Florida’s criminal justice system,” Renner said in a news release.

“This session, we were able to make great progress towards making our communities safer, providing crime victims more help to address their needs, and giving people with felony convictions more paths to employment to reduce recidivism.

“This bill was a great first step forward, and I am excited to move these issues forward in the years to come.”

In April, over three hundred crime victims from throughout Florida traveled to the State Capitol to advocate for many of the criminal justice reforms contained in Renner’s bill, arguing they would stop cycles of crime and make communities safer.