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Legislative briefs

legislature 2000
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Compiled from staff and wire reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 16, 2000

Bill proposes barbecue secretary

A House bill calls for the creation of an unusual new Cabinet post: secretary of barbecue.

The measure was filed by George Albright, a Republican from Ocala, and he's serious.

Under the bill, the governor would appoint a secretary of barbecue, who would serve without pay for one year. The position would be ceremonial and would promote the enjoyment of barbecue and barbecue culture.

"It's a serious subject," Albright said Tuesday. "Barbecue is big business in this state."

Albright is part owner of two Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q restaurants, and he says the experience has taught him about the role barbecue plays in Southern culture.

Albright said he got the idea after a lobbyist pointed out that Gov. Jeb Bush drank champagne and ate barbecue to ring in the New Year.

"This is the hottest thing in the state," Albright said. "Everybody loves barbecue. This is an enjoyable food to eat. How many foods are also entertaining?" -- ASSOCIATED PRESS

Senate moves to bolster ethics

Promising to create better ways of policing their conduct and campaigns, state senators expect today to pass several bills to begin the process.

The Senate likely will approve a measure to strengthen the powers of the state Ethics Commission to investigate corruption. Senators also expect to pass a bill limiting to $5,000 the amount of "soft money" that can be contributed to political parties in the final two months before an election.

Senate President Toni Jennings said Wednesday the Senate today will send those measures to the House. That is where they could run into trouble.

House Speaker John Thrasher has said he opposes any limits on contributions. Thrasher also opposes giving more power to the Ethics Commission, which is an appointed group.

Bush spokeswoman Elizabeth Hirst said the governor supports a "completely transparent" campaign finance system where contributions are posted within 24 on the Internet. -- WILLIAM YARDLEY

Student alcohol-tasting bill passes

After several acrimonious back-and-forths, the House on Wednesday passed a measure to let alcoholic beverages be served to students over age 17 if it is part of a required college curriculum.

Alcohol could not be served for the purpose of consumption, but tasting would be allowed. Several Florida universities have culinary arts and hospitality programs that offer wine tasting courses, including Florida State University, Florida International University and Johnson & Wales in North Miami.

The measure passed 81-26. Three Democrats joined a group of mostly conservative Republicans in voting against it.

"This is not a drinking bill," said the sponsor, Rep. Sally Heyman, D-North Miami Beach, adding that the bill had the support of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

But Rep. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, said the measure ran counter to the state's efforts to crack down on youthful drinking. JO BECKER

Veteran legislator hospitalized

Rep. Ed Healey, among the longest-serving lawmakers, was in critical condition Wednesday after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage.

Healey, 75, was admitted to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital late Tuesday. He complained of pain during a rally for Vice President Al Gore at Leon High School and suffered a cerebral hemorrhage at home about 9 p.m. His son, Mark Healey, called 911.

Healey is third in seniority in the House. The West Palm Beach Democrat was first elected in 1974 and served through 1980. He served another term from 1982 to 1984, and has been in office since being elected again in 1986. -- ASSOCIATED PRESS

For information about legislation, call (800) 342-1827 during business hours. Online Sunshine, a computer users' guide to the Florida Legislature, is available at

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