Moment of silence bill clears Senate committee
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14 states currently require a moment of silence during school.

After a procedural mixup earlier this month, the Senate Rules Committee revisited and advanced a bill Wednesday that would mandate a moment of silence for school students.

The Senate took up the House version of the measure, which already cleared the lower chamber.

Sponsored by Republican Rep. Randy Fine, the House bill (HB 529) would require teachers to hold a one- to two-minute moment of silence each day during first period class in public schools.

The bill would also prohibit teachers from making suggestions about the moment of silence. Rather, it encourages teachers to discuss the moment with parents or guardians as to how the student can best utilize the moment.

Wednesday’s do-over comes after Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley mistakenly voted for a Democrat-sponsored amendment earlier this month.

Baxley urged reconsideration, sparking further debate among lawmakers and leading Chair Kathleen Passidomo to defer the bill’s consideration to a later time.

The Senate Rules Committee advanced the proposal Wednesday without questions, debate or hiccup.

The bill, which cleared the House in March and is slated for one Senate committee stop, now awaits the upper chamber’s full consideration.

According to a staff analysis, 14 states require a moment of silence during the school day. Moreover, 18 other states permit schools to facilitate a moment of silence. Under current Florida law, a district school board may or may not set aside a moment for silent prayer or mediation.

If signed into law, the bill would take effect July 1.

Speaking to a House committee in March, Fine said the moment is about more than religion.

“Every child can benefit from a time, whether you’re Jewish or Christian or you don’t believe in God at all, every child will benefit from this time to be centered before the beginning of the day,” Fine said.

The Senate version of the bill (SB 282) , meanwhile, awaits the Senate Judiciary Committee’s consideration, one of two remaining committees.

The proposals aren’t Florida’s first look at such legislation.

Former Rep. Kim Daniels pushed similar legislation in a prior Session. The bill cleared the House but died in the Senate.

Meanwhile, a bill that would allow opening remarks ahead of high school sports championship events is ready for a vote in the House.

The bill (HB 1027), sponsored by Deltona Republican Rep. Webster Barnaby, would afford a speaker two minutes for public remarks over a loudspeaker before a high school championship game.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the state capital for Florida Politics. After a stint with the U.S. Army, Jason attended the University of Central Florida where he studied American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. Throw him a line at [email protected] or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.



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