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Senate passes potty parity

To paraphrase the bill's sponsor, the Senate stood up for women's right to sit down when it approved a bill Tuesday that would require public buildings to include more toilets for women.

"I've been the victim of missing the second act of every play," said sponsor Helen Gordon Davis, D-Tampa, explaining the need for the potty parity legislation.

Her bill would require three women's toilets for every two men's toilets or urinals in buildings that have public restrooms. An exception would be made for small establishments that have no more than two facilities for men.

Originally, Davis' bill would have required existing sports arenas to enlarge their women's restrooms or bring in portable toilets. Stadium owners didn't like that idea much, and Davis reluctantly agreed to take it out so as not to lose the entire bill.

"Tampa Stadium was the most egregious," she said, adding that its representatives said it would be unsightly to put up portable toilets.

"Which is more unsightly?" Davis asked. "Having an accident or having a Port-o-let?"

So as it stands, the bill would apply only to buildings constructed after Sept. 30, or those that are extensively renovated. The House companion bill, pending in the Appropriations Committee, requires only that public buildings have an equal number of men's and women's facilities. But Davis said she's optimistic that the House will consider the 3-to-2 ratio.

Women need more facilities than men, she said, because women often must take children to the restroom. Pregnant women also need more time in the restroom, she noted.

State Sen. George Kirkpatrick, D-Gainesville, introduced an amendment requiring owners of gas stations along the interstates to keep their toilets tidy.

"If you travel the road as much as I do, you walk into these things and they're filthy," he said. "That's the first thing tourists see."

But senators decided that his amendment wasn't germane to Davis' bill, so it wasn't included.

The potty parity vote was unanimous, but at least one senator suggested that the whole debate was a little silly.

"I'm so glad somebody thinks our biggest problem is restrooms," said state Sen. Dick Langley, R-Clermont. "Some people might think it's money."

SHE SAID

"Which is more unsightly? Having an accident or having a Port-o-let?"

SEN. HELEN GORDON DAVIS

HE SAID

"I'm so glad somebody thinks our biggest problem is restrooms. Some people might think it's money."

SEN. DICK LANGLEY

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