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Abortion bickering spills over to unrelated issue

TALLAHASSEE — Democratic Rep. Daphne Campbell of Miami is on the outs with fellow caucus members, so under the enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend logic, she's now a buddy of the GOP.

During debate Monday, about 30 Republican members stood behind her as a show of support for her seemingly innocuous bill repealing a law requiring chairs for workers.

Last week, Campbell upset many Democrats for speaking out and supporting legislation that would put further restrictions on abortion, which prompted fellow Democrat Rep. Scott Randolph of Orlando to promise to find someone to unseat her in 2012.

Campbell and Randolph exchanged words. And perhaps more. She says he flung papers at her. He denies it. Others say they both threw papers. She denies it. Randolph acknowledges that he threw some of her papers and commemorative House pen in the trash. Later, during debate on limiting lawsuits, Randolph subtly brought up reports of deaths connected to Miami-area group homes that Campbell ran.

On Monday, Campbell's repealer bill, HB 7131, got wrapped into an argument during 20 minutes of debate on the House floor.

The bill would eliminate language in state statute that now makes it a second-degree misdemeanor for employers to fail to provide a seat for certain employees during business hours. Current law, which was written in 1899 and has not been enforced since at least 2000, is tailored to store clerks and others and requires that they have access to a chair in order to rest.

Campbell's proposal to repeal the statute had passed two committees unanimously.

But as Republicans stood by Campbell's side, at least six Democrats spoke to oppose the bill, claiming that the statute still served a purpose — particularly for elderly and disabled workers who might need a chair to rest or to better perform their jobs.

They also scoffed at Republicans for getting behind Campbell.

Another Democrat, Rep. Mark Pafford of West Palm Beach, asked to see Campbell as he addressed her, as allowed by rules. As Republicans parted to create a line of sight, Pafford quipped: "I feel like Moses."

Speaker Dean Cannon eventually ordered members back to their seats.

The repeal passed, 85-32; five Democrats, including Campbell and Minority Leader Ron Saunders, voted with the Republicans.

Shortly after, Randolph tweeted: "Repubs repeal law req. employers provide seats for seniors. Destroy pensions, Soc. Sec., Medicare, make us work til u die — but no seat for u!"

Abortion bickering spills over to unrelated issue 05/02/11 [Last modified: Monday, May 2, 2011 8:41pm]
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