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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Prayer, school bus ad bills moving right along



Two bills that gained little traction in past years have picked up momentum this season as they head for full floor votes in the coming days.

Sen. Gary Siplin's legislation to permit prayers at school-related events is scheduled for a third reading by the Senate after having made it through three committees. In past years, it couldn't get past panels that raised major concerns about its constitutionality.

This year, a rewrite spearheaded by Sen. David Simmons, a lawyer, is easing the path by making it clear that the prayers must be completely run by students without any school employee influence or participation. Even if the bill passes the Senate, it has yet to be heard in a single House committee, though.

On the House side, Rep. Irv Slosberg's bill to let school districts sell ads on the sides of buses has gone to the Calendar committee to be scheduled for a floor vote. That idea failed to move in past years, but this time out lawmakers have begun to agree -- however reluctantly -- that this revenue source might be worth approving.

The opposition has argued that children shouldn't be exposed to direct advertising such as this might provide. But they're in the distinct minority so far. A similar bill in the Senate has made its way through two committees and is headed to a third before it can go to the floor.

Stay tuned.

[Last modified: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 3:17pm]


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