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Influence

Bill requiring schools to display state motto clears final House panel

HB 839, a bill requiring school districts to display Florida’s motto “In God We Trust,” cleared its final House committee stop Wednesday.

The bill requires display in all “school buildings” in a given district, including school district structures.

The House Education committee cleared the bill Wednesday with just one no vote, with Republicans and Democrats alike generally agreeing with Kim Daniels, the Jacksonville Democratic co-sponsor of the bill, that the motto should be displayed.

Jason Fischer and Jay Fant, Daniels’ Republican colleagues from Jacksonville, were among the supporters.

Questions included the funding for the initiative; the bill left somewhat vague exactly where the motto would be displayed.

However, one committee member — Jennifer Sullivan of Eustis — noted that a laminated piece of paper with the motto and the state flag proved to be sufficient in her office.

Committee chair Mike Bileca lauded Daniels for having the “courage to take this issue on,” setting up an impassioned close from the first-term Jacksonville Democrat.

“This is not Communist China,” Daniels noted. “This is America … on a bad day, the greatest country in the world. The disrespect against flag and country makes me sick.”

Daniels added that the motto is a “symbol that represents something that we need to get back to,” and the bill comes from the “spiritual, not natural realm.”

The Senate version of the bill has yet to be put on a committee agenda, again illustrating divergent priorities between the two legislative bodies.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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