Lawmakers discuss 'Pop Tart Law'

Bill would ban schools from punishing students for brandishing food items

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It's been labeled the "Pop Tart Law" and Thursday lawmakers discussed it in Tallahassee.

The bill is a result of a recent case in Maryland, where a student was suspended after making a Pop Tart in the shape of a gun and pointing it at other students.

As it is right now at schools in Florida, if a student were to mimic a gun with another object, they stand the chance of being suspended over it.

This "Pop Tart Law" looks to change that, the proposal saying the "no tolerance" policy at schools has gone too far.

A House education committee already passed what's become known as the "Pop Tart Law," which was a reaction to the zero tolerance policy of firearms in schools.

Thursday, the bill will be heard by a Senate committee. State Rep. Dennis Baxley is behind the proposal.

"With this policy, there's also a layer of common sense that would clearly indicate you need to use discretion and not move toward police-like activity when it was clearly horseplay," said Baxley. "Hopefully it will be good guidance that will be helpful to them as they build their school policies."

Baxley said it will let kids be kids.

"It's not hurting anybody. It's just kids being kids and being at school," said Baxley. "Those things are not disruptive and we shouldn't overreact."

The National Rifle Association is in support of this legislation, pushing it as a common-sense approach in reaction to administrators who have punished students for pointing fingers like a gun, or playing around with a gun-shaped Pop Tart.

"A lot of parents don't want the publicity, don't want the embarrassment and we've heard from folks who've had situations but said, 'You can't tell my story,'" said Marion Hammer, of the NRA.

The legislation would ban school districts from punishing students for "brandishing a partially consumed pastry or other food item." It sounds ridiculous to some people, but others don't think the zero tolerance policy should be modified.

"That's a joke. It makes no sense," said one Jacksonville resident.

"It's bad they should get in trouble for that. They should not be doing something that symbolizes violence," said another.

The Pop Tart Bill would also allow students and staff to wear pro-gun and pro-Second Amendment shirts in schools

State legislators will also be discussing several other bills and the governor and Cabinet will meet for the first time since the governor's State of the State address.

On the agenda is the Department of Environmental Protection plan to abandoned plans to sell state land. Lawmakers wanted to sell $50 million worth and use the cash to buy more land, but environmentalists found flaws with almost every parcel the department wanted to unload.

Gov. Rick Scott will hold his first media availability since his State of the State address and will likely talk only about jobs, education, and keeping the cost of government low. Scott himself said in his address to the legislature that even though reporters want to talk about other things, that's all he's interested in discussing.

Legislation to prevent insurance companies from refusing coverage or charging more for someone who owns a gun is expected to pass a House Committee. Previous testimony has not shown gun discrimination to be a problem, but lawmakers aren't taking any chances so far.

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