House Bill 31, co-introduced by Representatives Brad Drake (R- Eucheeanna) and Greg Evers (R-Baker) today passed the House Policy Council Committee, its third committee of reference, advancing it toward a vote by the full Florida House of Representatives. Representative Evers presented an amendment to HB 31, which would prohibit affirmative acts of school districts and administrators that violate the First Amendment freedom of speech rights of students, teachers and school district personnel, including their freedom of religious speech.
The bill is designed to preempt future ACLU attacks on the First Amendment protections of freedom of speech, including religious speech, like the attack in Santa Rosa County that led to then-Pace High School Student Body President Mary Allen being censored and barred from speaking at her own high school graduation, as well as Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and Athletic Director Robert Freeman being charged with criminal contempt of court for offering a blessing at an adults-only event.
“This bill is about so much more than school prayer or inspirational speech, it’s about protecting Floridians’ First Amendment rights,” said Representative Evers. “At a time when our freedoms are constantly threatened, it is of vital importance that we pass legislation that preserves our freedoms and values at all cost. If we can stop what happened to Mary Allen and the good folks at Pace High School from happening anywhere elsewhere in Florida, I feel that we have done something important and good.”
“I thank my colleagues in the House for passing this important bill out of committee, and I look forward to working to move it all the way through the process,” said Representative Evers. “This legislation has been a priority of mine since the day I got elected in 2001. And, I’ve heard from people in Northwest Florida and throughout the state, who believe, as do I, that it is important that Floridians be allowed to exercise their freedom of speech how they see fit, and not have others dictate to them what they can and cannot do or say.”
“We deeply appreciate the support of the Florida House and, especially of Representatives Evers and Drake in making sure that outside liberal forces with their own agendas do not quash the First Amendment self-expression rights of students and teachers,” said Mary Allen, a freshman at Florida State University who in May 2009 was the president of the Pace High School student body.
HB 31, relating to protection of school speech, prohibits district school boards, administrative personnel and instructional personnel from taking affirmative action that infringes or waives rights or freedoms afforded by First Amendment to United States Constitution.
Representative Evers currently represents Florida House District 1, which includes parts of Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Counties. He is a farmer and small businessman who was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2001 and was subsequently re-elected. Representative Evers has put his experience in agriculture and business to good use in the Florida Legislature and is proud of his legislative accomplishments on behalf of Florida’s critical agriculture industry, economic development, job creation and preserving and protecting Northwest Florida values including our Second Amendment rights and protections. Most recently, he sponsored and passed legislation enabling Florida farmers to transport their farm equipment from field to field without the burden of additional government permits or fees; legislation creating tax incentives that enabled the Jay Oil Field to reopen, restoring numerous Northwest Florida jobs; legislation officially designating “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the State of Florida and legislation protecting the right of law-abiding citizens in Florida to have legal firearms secured in their automobiles in public parking lots.
The Evers bill legalizes voodoo, a syncretic religion originating from the Caribbean country of Haiti, in Florida public schools. And keeps ACLU from preventing animal sacrifices on school grounds….or so it seems. Freedom of religion means all religions, right?