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'Bodies' bill paves way for museum exhibits

BodiesThose controversial museum exhibits that showcase preserved, dead bodies in various positions -- kicking a soccer ball, playing a piano, exposing a black smoker's lung -- got a boost Wednesday in the form of a bill moving through the state Senate.

Sen. Victor Crist, a Tampa Republican, breezed his "Conveyance of Bodies" bill past the Health Regulation committee. Up next: A vote in the full Senate.

The story behind the bill goes something like this:

There is a state anatomical board that approves and regulates the distribution of cadavers for medical schools throughout Florida. In 2005, the board voted against allowing Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry to display preserved bodies for an exhibit.

The museum, bucking the board's vote, went ahead with the wildly popular exhibit, which broke attendance records.

Now, Crist's bill would allow accredited Florida museums to bring preserved bodies into the state for such exhibits, without the need of approval from the anatomical board. Museums would only need to give the board 30 days' notice and say how long the bodies will be on display.

The health committee passed the bill unanimously Wednesday without discussion or argument -- a good sign it has a chance of making it through the full Legislature in the next few weeks.