FLYING "OLD GLORY" ?
|Courtesy of NAPLES DAILY
One would require school children to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, the other would allow people to fly American flags in any respectful way no matter what their homeowners' association might say.
The bills flew through the House, being introduced, read and then passed with no amendments or debate, all in one day. None was ever head in a committee.
The House first had to vote to take up the issues, because they are outside the scope of what Gov. Jeb Bush called lawmakers back to Tallahassee to do — close a $1.3 billion shortfall in the budget.
But in the fervor of patriotism that has swept the nation in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, the House easily passed both measures.
They would still need approval of the Senate and Gov. Jeb Bush to become law.
The first bill (HB 25B), sponsored by Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Lauderdale, requires school districts to put in place patriotic programs and requires students to stand when the national anthem is played.
It also requires the Pledge of Allegiance to be recited each day at all public schools, and requires that students must stand with their hand over their heart during the pledge.
It says students have the right not to participate, but requires them to stand even if they don't. It passed 115-1.
The bill preventing homeowners' associations from dictating how residents can fly flags is partly in response to a case in Jupiter in which a homeowner has been fighting his association over a flagpole.
A Palm Beach County judge sided with the Indian Creek Phase III-B Homeowners Association, ruling that 61-year-old George Andres was violating its rule barring flagpoles. Under the association's rules, flags can be flown only from brackets attached to the side of homes.
The bill (HB 21B), sponsored by Rep. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, says that homeowners may fly removable American flags in a respectful way regardless of any association rules.
"This bill is about the United States flag on one's own property," said Sobel. "Solidarity to the cause of freedom. Our flag is the symbol of our country."
That bill passed 119-1.
Rep. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, voted against both, saying they were being rushed through. He said a 1943 court case saying students don't have to participate in the pledge marred the first bill, and that lawmakers didn't have time to research that.
"What's next? We pass a bill that says you have to tattoo a flag on your butt," Smith said. "They'll vote for that. You've got to walk slowly."