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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Voters will get to weigh in on 'Blaine Amendment'

State senators signed off on a measure approved last week by the Florida House proposing a constitutional amendment doing away with language that keeps public money from going to many religious institutions.

"All the black colleges in the state of Florida are affiliated with a church," said Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, who voted for the proposal. "It's against our constitution to give them any money...Well, we've been doing it. Yeah -- we've been doing it because nobody sued us over that issue."

Striking the Blaine Amendment would remove the possibility of a lawsuit, Wise argued.

Though the Senate voted 26-10 on Friday to put HJR 1471 on the ballot, some legislators said on Thursday they were ill-at-ease with the proposal.

Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, said he didn't necessarily want public money going to, for example, the Church of Scientology.

"No religious organization would be discriminated against," responded Sen. Thad Altman, R-Viera and the bill's sponsor. The U.S. Constitution, he added, still maintains the separation of church and state.

[Last modified: Friday, May 6, 2011 11:59am]


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