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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida Senate could remove Confederate flag from its seal

The Florida State Senate seal

The Florida State Senate seal



Lawmakers are meeting Thursday morning to discuss whether to update the decades-old insignia for the Florida Senate and rid it of a reference to the controversial Confederate flag.

The rebel flag has drawn renewed criticism nationwide since the racially motivated shooting at a Charleston, S.C. church last summer.

At the request of Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, and Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner of Tampa, the Senate Rules Committee will "review and evaluate" the official seal, which was adopted in 1972.

Per chamber rules, the seal's center contains "a fan of the five flags that have flown over Florida" -- those of Spain, France, Great Britain, the Confederate States and the United States of America.

A proposal that will be presented to the committee tomorrow removes reference to the five flags and lists specific ones that "have flown or presently fly over Florida" -- the "1513 Spanish flag, the current Florida State flag, the current United States flag, the 1564 French flag, and 1763 flag of Great Britain."

The revision swaps out the Confederate Flag in the seal for the current state flag. The change would also affect the coat of arms for the state Senate. Download Senate Seal_Proposed Senate Rule Change

Changes to the Senate seal require a two-thirds majority vote of the Senate.

The "Southern Cross"-style flag that's included in the current insignia is actually battle flag for the Confederacy, not the rebellion's official flag. That banner was known as the "stars and bars," which depicts 13 white stars arranged in a circle on a block of blue, next to horizontal red and white bars.

This is possibly not the only discussion over the Confederate flag that Florida lawmakers could have next session.

Democrats Rep. Darryl Rouson, of St. Petersburg, and Sens. Geraldine Thompson, of Orlando, and Dwight Bullard, of Cutler Bay, have filed bills for the 2016 session that would prohibit local, county or state government entities in Florida from displaying any Confederate flag or similar symbols. House Bill 243 and Senate Bill 154 have each been referred to four committees in their respective chambers, but no hearings have been scheduled yet.

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[Last modified: Wednesday, October 7, 2015 6:06pm]


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