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  • Drivers License Suspensions Under Senate Scrutiny 1, October8, 2015
    Nearly one point four million Floridians had their drivers license suspended last year. The vast majority of the suspensions were for failing to pay a fine, and as Mike Vasilinda tells us, lawmakers say the system creates a vicious cycle from which some people never recover. Every day, on just about every police blotter in […]
    Mike Vasilinda
  • Senate Panel Votes to Remove Confederate Flag from Seal 1, October8, 2015
    The Confederate flag is still on display in a prominent place in Florida’s Capitol. As Matt Galka tells us, Florida state Senators could be removing it entirely soon. It’s not the most noticeable symbol at the Capitol. But for State Senator Arthenia Joyner, the Confederate Flag on the Senate’s seal became plain as day over […]
    Matt Galka
  • Pastor Protection Act Clears First Committee 1, October7, 2015
    The Supreme Court ruling earlier this year legalizing gay marriage across the country has sparked potential new legislation in Florida. As Matt Galka tells us, some in Florida’s Capitol believe clergy need new protections to preserve their faith. St. Petersburg pastor Paul Gibson doesn’t have same sex couples knocking down his door for him to […]
    Matt Galka
  • Backyard Gun Ranges Could Soon Be Illegal in Urban Areas 1, October7, 2015
    Back yard gun ranges and firing a gun into the air to celebrate…if it’s in an urban area, would be against the law under a bill that cleared its second legislative committee today. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, lawmakers say they are trying to balance public safety with the rights of gun owners. Residents of […]
    Mike Vasilinda
  • Open Carry Could be Coming to Florida 1, October6, 2015
    Florida owns the record for concealed carry permits in the country. But as Matt Galka tells us, more than one million Floridians with those permits could soon be able to walk around with their guns on display. 45 states allow some type of open carry of firearms.  Florida is one of only five that outlaw […]
    Matt Galka
  • Lawmakers Criticize Medical Marijuana Delay (Again) 1, October6, 2015
    The state Department of Health was unable to provide lawmakers with a timeline today as to when low THC marijuana will be available to patients. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, the authorizing legislation was passed almost 18 months ago, and the failure to deliver the medicine is frustrating lawmakers. Five licenses to grow medical marijuana […]
    Mike Vasilinda
  • Senate Committee Sends Message to Boycotters of Israel 1, October6, 2015
      Saying they wanted to make a political statement without compromising the states retirement account, a state senate committee today approved legislation prohibiting the state from buying stock in a company that boycotts Israel. State Senator Joe Negron, the bills sponsor, says the legislation hopes to combat an international effort to hurt Israel’s economy. “The […]
    Mike Vasilinda
  • Alzheimer’s Legislation Would Fund Tracking Program 1, October5, 2015
    A pilot project to help find Alzheimer’s victims and Autistic individuals who wander (is expected to clear) a legislative committee at the State Capitol today. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, the idea is to set up a pilot tracking program through the University of Florida. In this decade, Florida’s population is expected to grow 11 […]
    Mike Vasilinda
  • Citizens Regulations Bill Coming Back 1, October5, 2015
    The Governor vetoed legislation earlier this year that lawmakers said would protect customers in the state run Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. As Matt Galka tells us, the Governor’s veto pen has not deterred state representatives from bringing the bill back. Citizens property insurance shed more than a million policies in the past 4 years. Less […]
    Matt Galka
  • Revenge Porn Law Goes on the Books in Florida 1, October2, 2015
    Revenge porn, or the practice of sharing intimate pictures of someone without their permission, now has a penalty attached to it. As Matt Galka tells us, a former Florida State student who was instrumental in the bill’s passing says it’s about time. Former Florida State student Carly Hellstrom had limited options two years ago. She […]
    Matt Galka

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Prayer at School Events Passes First Legislative Hurdle

November 2nd, 2011 by Anna Laura Rehwinkel

Should students be allowed to pray at school events? Thats the question lawmakers are trying to answer. Opponents of the school prayer bill say it sets the stage for lawsuits, but as Whitney Ray tells us, supporters say prayer is freedom of speech.

Praying for student prayer after a heartfelt debate in a committee Wednesday morning, Senator Larcenia Bullard was brought to tears.

She wasnt supposed to be here. Bullard suffered a heart attack before last session her chances for recovery were slim.

Had it not been for prayer, even to my doctors who said I will never question your faith again, I would not be sitting here today, said Bullard.

Bullard says prayer saved her life; now she wants kids to be able to pray at school events.

The prayer wouldnt happen during regular school hours, but could be held at secondary school events like football games and graduation. The prayer bill allows student governments to nominate a student to pray. The content of the prayer would be left up their discretion.

The ACLU and Anti-Defamation League say the state is too diverse to offer a prayer to just one religion and say if the bill passes lawsuits would abound.

It could be to any faith. It could be to my faith, the Jewish faith, Adonai, Jesus, Buddha; it doesnt matter. Thats not the role of the public schools, said David Barkley with the ADL.

The bills sponsor, Senator Gary Siplin, says its about freedom of speech.

We ought to formalize it some way to allow the student to get together and have some type of benediction an invocation, said Siplin.

The bill passed the committee with just one no vote. Its next stop is the Senate Judicial Committee, where opponents expect a closer vote. The bill has bipartisan support, but it also has bipartisan opposition. Similar bills have been filed almost every year over the past 20 years. The bill sponsor believes this year it will pass because hes seeking legal advice to draft the bill to withstand court challenges.

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