FL Senate Taking Up Florida Forever & Bethune Statue

Tallahassee, FL –  The Florida Senate on Wednesday is expected to take up a bill that would set aside $100 million a year for the Florida Forever program and a proposal that would place a statue of civil-rights leader and educator Mary McLeod Bethune in the U.S. Capitol.

Those bills were among nine that the Senate Special Order Calendar Group on Monday scheduled to go to the full Senate during a Wednesday floor session. Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, is sponsoring the Florida Forever bill (SB 370), which would use money that voters approved in 2014 for land and water conservation.

The Bethune-related bill (SB 472), sponsored by Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, stems from a 2016 decision by the Legislature to replace a likeness of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith as a representative of Florida in the National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. Bethune, who founded what became known as Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, would become one of two Florida representatives in the hall, along with John Gorrie, widely considered the father of air conditioning.

Among the other bills going to the floor Wednesday is a bill (SB 140), sponsored by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, that is aimed at ending child marriage in the state.

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