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Florida bill could clear way for pre-game prayers

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Amid a legal fight about a pre-game prayer, a Senate Republican on Wednesday filed a bill that would require the Florida High School Athletic Association to allow schools to have access to public-address systems before sports competitions. Sen.

Ana Maria Rodriguez, R-Doral, filed the bill (SB 880) as the association and Cambridge Christian School of Tampa have been locked in a long-running federal lawsuit stemming from a 2016 high-school football championship game.

The association, which is the governing body of high school sports, denied a request by Cambridge Christian to use the public-address system at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium to offer a pre-game prayer.

That prompted the school to file the lawsuit, arguing that its First Amendment rights had been violated.

Rodriguez’s bill would require the association to authorize schools to “provide 30 seconds of opening remarks over a public-access system before the start of an athletic competition.”

It also would bar the association from “controlling, monitoring or reviewing the contents of any member school’s opening remarks.”

The bill is filed for consideration during the legislative session that will start March 2.