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Jacksonville HRO expansion bill topic of Wednesday meeting

Will the third time be the charm for expansion of Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance to include the LGBT community?

Wednesday may tell the tale.

Councilman Aaron Bowman, one of the co-sponsors of the 2016 HRO expansion bill, has scheduled a public notice meeting for 11:30 Wednesday morning at Jacksonville’s city hall.

Expected to be in attendance: council members and community leaders, many of whom have been consistently ahead of the council when it comes to LGBT rights.

The bill is expected to be a pared down version of the 14-page 2016 legislation, including carve out protections for churches and associated businesses and small businesses.

Worth watching: Whether the bill has more than three co-sponsors.

Frustration in 2016 for supporters: council members who pledged to support HRO expansion during the campaign, but went mute during council deliberations.

Also worth watching: will all Democrats support HRO expansion this time?

Back in 2012, two Council Democrats — Reggie Brown and Johnny Gaffney — voted against even the compromise version of the bill.

Also worth watching: where will Republicans fall?

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Council member Anna BroscheLori Boyer, and Greg Anderson are all thought of as possible supporters of the measure, but have avoided making hard commitments of support up until now.

Mayor Lenny Curry has pledged to stay out of the process; however, if the bill passed with fewer than 13 votes, he will be positioned to have to take a position on the measure.

We reached out to the mayor; his spokesperson, Marsha Oliver, advised that “the mayor does not make it a practice to discuss or comment on proposed legislation. He respects Council members and the legislative process. He evaluates items at the conclusion of the process that are then presented to him.”

We also caught up with Councilman Bill Gulliford, who had introduced a referendum on HRO expansion parallel to the Tommy Hazouri bill in 2016.

“Here we go again,” Gulliford said about the HRO debate.

Gulliford will not be in attendance at the Wednesday meeting.

He has not seen the bill as of yet, so he’s made no determination about his next steps regarding legislation.

Notable: the next ballot opportunity for a referendum would be August 2018.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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