TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – April 13, 2011 --
The Florida Senate Judiciary Committee today passed Senate Joint Resolution 1218, which proposes the elimination of discriminatory language in the Florida Constitution.
“As it is currently stated the Florida Constitution is discriminatory, treating people differently because of their beliefs,” said Senator Thad Altman, R-Rockledge, sponsor of the joint resolution. “This discriminatory language dates back to 1885 – passing this resolution helps to finally remove something that is long overdue.”
Private, faith-based organizations can often provide valuable services for less money than the public sector, therefore lowering government costs for taxpayers. However, current constitutional language prohibits the state from tapping into these potential resources. Archaic constitutional language goes beyond limiting educational options and higher education scholarships. It limits other secular benefits such as healthcare services, foster care and homeless shelters. If approved by Floridians, the Religious Freedom Act would allow individuals the choice to participate in public programs through a religious provider.
“This resolution does not direct any state funds to faith-based organizations,” added Altman. “It just allows Floridians to vote on a measure which would broaden their choices for services. In light of the state’s current economy, we should allow Floridians the option to seek services that benefit personal and community wellbeing from more private providers, whether they are religious organizations or not.”
Companion legislation, House Bill 1471 sponsored by Representative Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, is moving through the Florida House of Representatives. To learn more about the Religious Freedom Act, visit www.flsenate.gov.