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    Legislature

    Third time a charm for Greyhound bill?

    Today is the 19th day of the 60-day session.

    By Times wires
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published March 22, 2003


    For the third year in a row, state Sen. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, is asking her colleagues to pass legislation (SB 228) to require greyhound adoption booths at racetracks.

    "What we're trying to do is make sure these retired racing greyhounds have the opportunity to be adopted to a good home," she told the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee.

    The first year she proposed the legislation, it died when lawmakers attached an amendment to keep Hialeah Park racetrack open.

    Last year, Wasserman Schultz's bill was amended to allow vastly expanded card room operations at tracks. Gov. Jeb Bush vetoed it, saying the legislation had become a vehicle for expanding gambling in Florida.

    This year will be different, said Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell, D-Tamarac, who chairs the committee. He jokingly warned fellow committee members not to attach any gambling amendments.

    Frequently, greyhounds past their prime racing years are euthanized unless someone adopts them. Animal rights activists also say thousands that don't make the cut as racing dogs are killed each year as puppies.

    Bill would extend voucher deal to military families

    The House on Friday debated a bill that would make children of military personnel and veterans eligible for private school vouchers paid for with corporate tax credits.

    The bill (HB 805) would expand the existing program that provides businesses with tax credits if they contribute to vouchers for children of low-income families, allowing them to attend private schools.

    It is expected to come up for a vote next week.

    Several Democrats questioned the proposal, suggesting it would take money away from the public schools. "Why is it that we would need to expand a voucher program at this time when we are really not sure that these are even individuals who need this type of state government giveaway?" asked Rep. Curtis Richardson, D-Tallahassee.

    But Rep. Frank Attkisson, R-Kissimmee, said the program would save the state money because vouchers would be limited to $3,500 per student, while public schools cost $5,500 per student.

    Motorcyclists may get their own specialty tag

    While specialty license plates for automobiles have proliferated, motorcyclists have had to make do with a standard tag.

    No more.

    A bill (HB 287) discussed in the House creates a red, white and blue tag for motorcycles, with proceeds from the extra $15 fee to go to helping the disabled.

    It is the first bill by freshman Rep. Larry Cretul, R-Ocala, and comes up for final action in the House next week. A similar bill (SB 148) is pending in the Senate.

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

    The Legislature's official Web site: www.leg.state.fl.us

    Capitol Update, a half-hour TV program on the day's legislative highlights, airs at 11 p.m. weekdays on public stations. Some government access channels offer live daytime coverage of some floor sessions and committee meetings. Check TV Times for schedules.

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