TALLAHASSEE — The pace of the legislative session continues to pick up today, with the House and Senate expected to pass several significant pieces of legislation — from bills requiring civics education in public schools and excusing breastfeeding moms from jury duty, to banning adoption agencies from asking prospective parents whether they own firearms.
House Republicans also are likely to vote out of the chamber a controversial bill creating leadership funds that candidates can use to raise unlimited dollars from special interests.
The adoption legislation on the Senate and House floors today would prohibit adoption agencies from asking prospective parents whether they own firearms or ammunition, an NRA-friendly move that comes in a year when many Republican lawmakers are seeking re-election and election to higher office.
The gun legislation, pushed by NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer, came after a gun-owning couple in Brevard County took umbrage at a Children's Home Society request to disclose whether they had firearms before adopting a child. The couple complained to a lawyer, who called Hammer. Hammer maintains any request about gun ownership from an agency connected with government is akin to establishing a gun registry.
The Senate began discussing the proposal Tuesday, when several Democrats urged fellow Republicans to consider adding sexual orientation to the list of things adoptions agencies cannot ask would-be parents.
"There's many parents who serve as foster parents for years and are denied the right to adopt because of their orientation," said St. Petersburg Democrat Charlie Justice. He filed an amendment, but later withdrew it, to add sexual orientation to the bill.
"Whether a parent owns a gun has no bearing on their ability to be a parent, that's what this bill is about," said Broward Democrat Nan Rich. "But neither does their sexual orientation."
The House also will be in session to vote on a bill requiring civics education in K-12 schools, and as a requirement to move from middle school to high school. And Republicans are likely to outvote Democrats in approving a bill that revives "leadership funds," unlimited soft-money accounts under direct control of a few influential lawmakers.
The proposal comes on the heels of newspaper reports of lavish spending by former Republican Party chairman Jim Greer.
Republican lawmakers say the funds are more "transparent" than the current system of political contributions because records will show exactly who gave how much, and to which candidate.
Democrats disagree, pointing out that donations and expenditures would only have to be reported quarterly, not within 10 days like other lawmaker-controlled committees currently must do.
Also today, a bill tightening licensing requirements for tattoo parlors will get its first public consideration in the Senate's health regulation committee.