Two weeks after U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, called for a special session of the Florida Legislature to speed up the replacement of a statue of a Confederate general, her effort has been joined by the three Democrats in Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation: Reps. Alcee Hastings, Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel.
Wasserman Schultz sent a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes, and Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, asking for the legislature to accelerate the already-in-the-works replacement of the statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, which is one of two statues representing Florida in the U.S. Capitol.
(Florida’s other statue in the Capitol is of John Gorrie, considered the father of air conditioning.)
Scott signed a 2016 bill calling for the replacement of the Confederate statue. But legislators haven’t settled on a new Florida figure to honor. A committee has recommended three finalists: Educator and civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune; Everglades preservation icon Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Publix founder George Jenkins.
Wasserman Schultz says legislators can convene a special session and pick a replacement when they gather in Tallahassee for committee hearings in September. When she initially raised the matter, a Scott spokesman said no special session is warranted and the issue can be brought up when the legislature meets in its regular session in January. Corcoran accused Wasserman Schultz of “grandstanding.”
Wasserman Schultz’s letter has been signed by all 11 Democratic members of Florida’s U.S. House delegation.