TALLAHASSEE — It is a day for conservative causes in the Florida Senate.
Lawmakers will battle over a health care bill laden with a trio of Republican social issues. The last-minute additions already drawing fire are provisions that would require women to pay for an ultrasound before an abortion, ban the use of public money on abortions and encourage the state to sue over the federal health care bill.
Other Republican-led efforts that will likely see passage:
• A proposed constitutional amendment that would "clarify" the intent of the citizen-driven "Fair Districts" proposals. The measure would allow lawmakers to draw up districts using "communities of interest," such as race or coastal communities. Supporters say the legislative amendment is needed to preserve minority gains in the statehouse. Opponents argue the proposal would gut the Fair District amendments, which they say already protects minority rights.
• The so-called school prayer bill would protect teachers who pray with public school students, a scenario fiercely opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
• A bill that seeks to eliminate any requirement in Florida law relating to the killing of an unborn child that the suspect must have knowledge of the pregnancy or the intent to kill. Critics say the bill challenges the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade. It changes the term "viable fetus" to "unborn child," defined as a "member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb."
Meanwhile, the Senate is expected to revisit an amendment that would allow some gun owners to keep their guns in their vehicles when parked on private property. The measure is opposed by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and is backed by the NRA.
The House is looking at a handful of claims bills and will take up legislation already passed in the Senate.