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  • The legislature in brief

  • From the state wire

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  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story
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    The legislature in brief

    By ANITA KUMAR and Associated Press
    March 15, 2002

    Today is the 53rd day of the 60-day session.

    One thing ahead of schedule

    Rep. Charlie Justice, D-St. Petersburg, got word as he was about to head to the House floor Wednesday morning: His wife, Kathleen, was having their first child.

    Justice flew home in plenty of time to be by his wife's side when their daughter, Allison Brady Justice, was born at 6:15 p.m. at Morton Plant Mease Hospital in Clearwater. She weighed 5 pounds 5 ounces and is 19.5 inches long.

    Justice plans to spend the weekend with his wife, a special education teacher at Madeira Beach Middle School, and daughter before heading back to the capital on Monday.

    On Thursday, his colleagues announced the birth on the House floor and Speaker Tom Feeney congratulated the Justices.

    The family hadn't expected the baby to arrive until after the scheduled end of the legislative session a week from today.

    Tribal rights measure advances

    Indian-on-Indian crimes on reservations would be handled by the Miccosukee tribal council or federal government under a bill that advanced in the House.

    The bill (HB 1771) would absolve state law enforcement agencies of jurisdiction over crimes on Indian land once it has been determined that non-Indians weren't victims or suspects.

    The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Ralph Arza, R-Hialeah, would have no effect on the regulation of Indian gaming in Florida, which is regulated by federal law.

    The debate on the measure included some joking remarks, such as the one from a lawmaker that he had "reservations" about the bill.

    House Speaker Tom Feeney said later that the members were simply trying to "release a little tension in laughter."

    "This was a very pro-Miccosukee bill," Feeney said. "Hopefully they're grateful for Rep. Arza, and if we're going to do a little kidding around while we pass a good bill, that's all right with me."

    Instructional imbibing permissible

    Underage students in cooking schools will be able to taste small amounts of wine if it's part of their course under a bill Gov. Bush signed into law Thursday.

    The change, which only applies to students over age 18, has been sought by cooking schools that have found it hard to train chefs without having them at least be able to taste the wine.

    Under the bill (CS HB 417), students under age 21 in culinary classes would be able to swish wine around in their mouth, and be expected to spit it back out.

    * * *

    For information about legislation, call 1-800-342-1827 or 1-850-488-4371 toll-free during business hours.

    For Internet users, Online Sunshine is the official site for the Legislature: www.leg.state.fl.us

    Capitol Update, a half-hour TV program on the day's legislative highlights distributed by the Sunshine Network, airs weekday evenings on a number of public stations. Some government access channels also offer gavel-to-gavel coverage of some floor sessions and committee meetings. Check TV Times for schedules.

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    From the Times state desk