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School prayer bill clears first stop

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Senator Gary Siplin

By Regan McCarthy

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-992202.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – Legislators in the senate education committee have given the okay to allow prayer in Florida's schools. Regan McCarthy reports the bill doesn't require prayer, but just makes the option available.

A bill filed by Senator Gary Siplin would give school districts the option of allowing student led prayer. Siplin, a Democrat from Orlando, says the bill specifies that the prayer must be selected and given by a student not a member of the school staff.

"It says that school personnel may not participate in or otherwise influence any student in the decision about whether to use prayers or invocation or benediction."

The same bill, filed by Siplin, passed out of the same Senate committee unanimously last year, but eventually died. It passed with 4 to 1 vote this time around. Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff voted it down because she says she remembers feeling uncomfortable as a young person because of her religion.