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Senate newbies get usual grilling

Two new senators face peculiar questions from peers to mark sponsorship of their first bills.

By ALISA ULFERTS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 19, 2003

TALLAHASSEE -- It was such an odd question, it made Sen. Nancy Argenziano pause.

Is there any difference between canoeing in saltwater or freshwater?

"I don't think it stings as much in freshwater," Argenziano finally answered Tuesday above the snorts and laughter in the Senate chamber.

A few minutes later, Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, faced an even more peculiar question.

"Could you sing us the fight song of the U.S. Coast Guard?" asked Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell, D-Tamarac.

The unusual questions were part of the usual hazing of new senators.

While subjecting newbie senators to good-natured grilling for their first bill doesn't appear to serve a public purpose, it is a time-honored practice in the upper chamber, which places a premium on tradition.

Argenziano's bill would extend the Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail from the Suwannee River to Yankeetown. The Dunellon Republican endured several not-so-subtle references to paddling of a different sort while her bill was considered.

Fasano, R-New Port Richey, endured the same treatment for his bill to allow condominium owners to display flags representing the armed services on certain military holidays.

Both bills got a preliminary thumbs-up.

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