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Tax panel passes carve out protection for religious institutions

Florida’s powerful tax panel Wednesday voted 17-7 to ask voters to strike a provision from the state Constitution that bans state money from being spent on religious institutions and replaces it with new protections that prohibit anyone from being barred from participating in public programs because of religion.

The Taxation and Budget Reform Commission agreed to put the measure on the ballot, persuaded by arguments that hundreds of state programs from from religious schools that offer pre-kindergarten programs to Baptist hospitals to Catholic universities to church drug-treatment centers.

"Because of millions of dollars of public programs are at risk, we have to take action,'' said Patricia Levesque, the sponsor of the amendment. Her proposal, she said, "strikes the discriminatory language in the Constitution and replaces it with one sentence.'' Read story here.

Here's the proposal: Download levesque_no_aid.pdf