TALLAHASSEE - The Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a bill giving the attorney general the power to file civil rights lawsuits.
The bill (HB 143A), which now goes to Gov. Jeb Bush for his signature, passed 36-1, with only Sen. Anna Cowin, R-Leesburg, voting no.
Attorney General Charlie Crist watched the vote and said afterward he had discussed the bill with Bush and expected him to sign it.
Crist said the legislation is needed to allow him to sue businesses that engage in a pattern of discrimination, as the U.S. attorney general can already do.
The bill died on the Senate calendar in the final moments of the regular session May 2.
Cowin offered several amendments that she said would keep the attorney general from misusing the power to sue houses of worship that might discriminate against homosexuals, for example. One change she proposed would have exempted places of worship, religious groups and nonprofit corporations. It was defeated on a voice vote.