The Legislative Session begins Tuesday. But one member of the Duval Delegation will be absent.
Rep. Kim Daniels, a second-term Jacksonville Democrat, wrote House Speaker Jose Oliva on Feb. 21 with a request for an excused absence.
The reason Daniels, an evangelist by trade, gave: She will be booked on the 700 Club.
However, per what a representative of the Christian Broadcasting Network told us Thursday, Daniels will actually be recording segments for CBN News on the Legislative Session’s opening day, calling attention to her proposed legislation to bring catechism to the classroom.
It is unclear why Daniels, an ordained minister, could not have recorded these CBN News segments before the Session’s start date.
In a voicemail, Daniels’ aide noted that the lawmaker is “fasting, praying, and seeking the Lord’s guidance” ahead of the appearance next week.
One suspects that Daniels will find a receptive audience for her latest legislation.
HB 195 would require — rather than just permit, as is the case now — high schools to offer an “objective study of religion.”
Such courses include:
— “A course on the Hebrew Scriptures and Old Testament…”
— “A course on the New Testament…,” and
— “A course on the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament of the Bible, and the New Testament of the Bible.”
They would still be electives: If the bill passes, however, the state’s public schools would have to offer these (even the smaller ones), but no one student would be required to take them.
Similar legislation is being considered or has been passed elsewhere.
Daniels, a Christian evangelist, has successfully carried religious legislation before, drawing on support from Republicans and African-American Democrats:
— HB 303, the “Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act,” passed in 2017.
The measure bans school districts “from discriminating against students, parents, & school personnel on basis of religious viewpoints or expression,” and requires a school district “to adopt limited public forum policy & deliver a disclaimer at school events.”
— HB 839, a bill requiring school districts to display Florida’s motto “In God We Trust,” passed in 2018.
The ACLU is watching this bill, but to hear the sales pitch Tuesday, they’ll need to watch CBN.
Daniels has faced challenges that most legislators who are not of the cloth likely can’t imagine.
In January, she agreed to terms in an ethics case dating back to her time on the Jacksonville City Council.
Daniels did not list church properties on her financial disclosure forms for three years from 2012 to 2014.
A stipulation in the agreement between Ethics and Daniels, which saw her admit culpability, is that the matter will be referred to Speaker Oliva for disciplinary determination.