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Legislature starts today with social, other issues on table

Should there be some type of prayer time in schools?

Should gays be able to adopt children?

Should it be illegal to have sex with animals in Florida?

By the end of Wednesday — the busiest day of each week in the state capital during the legislative session — the answers to some of those questions should become clearer.

But social issues aren't the only things on the agenda.

Lawmakers will consider scaling back insurance costs for state workers, taxes for online hotel booking sites like Expedia, expanding the power of the Chief Financial Officer and whether to fight a citizens' initiative on redistricting with the Legislature's own proposal.

Surprisingly, in a law-and-order Legislature run by Republicans, the bestiality ban has faced long odds in the Florida House, where leaders say the topic is a "distraction."

Nevertheless, Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, is trying for the third year in a row with a bill brought about by the apparent strangulation of a Panhandle family's goat that was attacked by a trespasser.

The House Pre-K-12 Policy Committee is hearing a bill of a holier nature: to prohibit teachers from getting fired for allowing silent prayer time in the classroom. Sen. Steve Wise of Jacksonville and Rep. Brad Drake of Eucheanna, both Republicans, are sponsoring the legislation.

Don't expect much to happen with Florida's gay adoption ban. On Tuesday, House and Senate Democrats chose not to force a vote regarding gay adoptions. After debate, the Democrats pulled the amendment. Wednesday, Rep. Mary Brandenburg, D-West Palm Beach, will hold a new conference in support of lifting the ban. The bill won't receive much more of a public hearing.

Marc Caputo can be reached at mcaputo@MiamiHerald.com.

Legislature starts today with social, other issues on table 03/17/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 11:27am]
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