Conservative lawmakers in Florida are in the final stages of passing two bills that detractors say amount to nothing more than thinly veiled racism and xenophobia. But, both proposals have undergone extensive reimagining before finally making it to the House floor.
After years of trying, Republican lawmakers led by Umatilla Senator Alan Hays are close to sending two bills dealing with local and state oversight and control to the governor's desk. One codifies existing case law that U.S. and Florida law supersedes foreign practices, while the other makes local school boards solely responsible for selecting textbooks. Both bills however, stem from less-than-legitimate fears of Islamic influence.
The textbook controversy started last year when a group of parents in Volusia County, led by Deltona High School mom Valerie Velez, took to the streets to protest the inclusion of a single chapter devoted to Islam in a high school world history book. Although the text contained innumerable references to Christianity and Judaism within it's more than one thousand pages, Velez attracted the attention of Senator Hays, who along with his House Sponsor, Shalimar Republican Representative Matt Gaetz, filed legislation to in their words "ensure parents have a say in what is taught to their children".