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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rep. Garcia banned from wearing protest passport on House floor

25

March

The immigration debate is getting turned on its head on the House floor.

Just look at Luis Garcia’s passport, which he’s wearing around the Capitol to protest a watered-down version of an Arizona-style immigration bill working through the House. Protestors like Garcia, D-Miami Beach, say it essentially would require police to start checking people’s papers.

So he’s wearing his passport as a sign of protest.

Except on the House floor, where Republican members are pushing the bill requiring of some immigrants to furnish proof of citizenship in some instances.

Under House rules, members aren’t allowed to bring props or placards. And House Rules Chairman Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral, said Garcia’s passport is just that – a prop.

“I asked him not to wear it on the outside, to tuck it into his jacket,” Aubuchon said. “Some people were complaining about it.”

Aubuchon wouldn’t say whether the complainers were staffers or member.

Garcia complied with the request.

“Gary’s a nice guy, a real classy act,” Garcia said. “He asked me nicely, so I tucked it away. If he was a jerk about it, I would have told him to stick it.”

Aubuchon hasn’t just targeted Democrats. Jimmie Smith, R-Inverness, held up his coffee mug to make a point Friday in debate over a union-dues bill, and Aubuchon told him not to use props.

In 2009, Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, smuggled in a crack-pipe and bong-adorned hard hat to draw attention to the importance of substance-abuse treatment. Rouson said he was found out and told not to wear it on the House floor. Soon after, Republican Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff held up a pack of cigarettes to discuss a tobacco tax. Rouson said he told on her. She was forced to put it away.

[Last modified: Friday, March 25, 2011 1:03pm]

    

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