STATE CAPITAL BRIEFS (LUNCH EDITION): TUESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2017

STATE CAPITAL BRIEFS (LUNCH EDITION): TUESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2017
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

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BETHUNE STATUE BILL FILED IN HOUSE
A day after the proposal emerged in the state Senate, a House Democrat on Tuesday filed a measure that calls for placing a statue of civil-rights leader and educator Mary McLeod Bethune in the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. The measure (HCR 73), filed by Rep. Patrick Henry, D-Daytona Beach, would lead to a likeness of Bethune replacing a statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith as a representative of Florida in the U.S. Capitol. The Legislature voted in 2016 to replace a statue of the St. Augustine-born Smith, and a panel known as the Great Floridians Committee nominated as possible replacements Bethune, Everglades activist and writer Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Publix grocery story founder George Washington Jenkins Jr. But lawmakers did not reach agreement during the 2017 session on a replacement. Henry's measure, along with an identical Senate proposal (SCR 184) filed Monday by Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, will be considered during the 2018 session. The National Statuary Hall allows each state to be represented by the likenesses of two people. Along with Smith, Florida has long been represented by John Gorrie, widely considered the father of air conditioning. In a statement released Tuesday, Henry described Bethune, who founded what is now known as Bethune-Cookman University, as a “true stateswoman.”

LONGTIME SEMINOLE STATE PRESIDENT TO STEP DOWN
After more than two decades as president, Ann McGee will step down from leading Seminole State College of Florida next year. Under McGee's leadership since 1996, Seminole State has expanded from its Sanford-Lake Mary campus to four campuses and has earned the state's top performance-based designation as a “gold” college. “I have decided to step down as president at a time when the college is in the best shape it has ever been and we have a bright future ahead of us,” McGee said in a statement on Monday. She noted enrollment is up at the school, and it will open a new 77,000-square-foot student center in January and will launch a new bachelor's degree program in nursing in 2018. McGee will continue serving as president as the college launches a search for her replacement. She will leave the presidency July 31 and transition into a “president emeritus” role, where she will continue to be involved in the school, including helping fund-raising efforts.

LAWMAKER WANTS TAX `HOLIDAY' FOR VETERANS
A two-month sales tax “holiday” would be offered each year to honorably discharged military veterans under a proposal filed this week by Rep. Kionne McGhee, D-Miami. The measure (HB 69), filed for the 2018 legislative session, would allow veterans to avoid paying sales taxes in November and December on clothing items costing $100 or less, personal computers costing $1,500 or less, books costing $50 or less and fitness equipment selling for $100 or less. McGhee proposed a similar measure for the 2017 session, but it never got heard in committees.