- The Washington Times - Friday, February 16, 2001

A bill that would require all public school students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance is alive again in Virginia's General Assembly, one day after its sponsor asked that it be taken off the docket.
Sen. Warren E. Barry, Fairfax Republican and the measure's sponsor, revived it by attaching it to a bill on school discipline that came before the Senate Education and Health Committee yesterday.
The bill passed the committee, of which Mr. Barry is chairman, 13-2, with the two no votes coming from senators who objected to the Pledge of Allegiance provisions being added.
The underlying bill, sponsored by Delegate John S. "Jack" Reid, Henrico Republican, reworked and reworded the entire school discipline sections of state law. The new provisions Mr. Barry added would require that public school students stand, salute the flag and say the pledge every day, unless they had a religious or philosophical objection.
"It allows for objections on philosophical and religious grounds, and that pretty much covers the whole gamut," said Sen. Richard L. Saslaw, Fairfax Democrat. "I don't see where it does any harm. I don't know whether it's going to make patriots out of everybody, but it's certainly not going to cause any problems."
Mr. Barry already had filed a bill to require the pledge be said, and that bill passed the Senate 27-9. But it ran into problems in the House Education Committee on Wednesday. The committee unanimously voted to strike the requirement that students who refused to say the pledge without having a legitimate objection be suspended.
Removing the suspension punishment was unacceptable to Mr. Barry, who demanded the bill be stricken from the docket. Committee members, taken aback by the move, instead decided to take no action and said they hoped Mr. Barry would return today to pursue the bill.
But Mr. Barry had other ideas. He had the amendment to Mr. Reid's bill drawn up and, after the discussion on Mr. Reid's bill yesterday, he announced there was one final change - it would have the pledge measure added to it.
The strategic reason, he said, is that it now bypasses the House Education Committee. Since Mr. Reid's bill is a House bill, it already has been through the House process.
If it passes the Senate, it will only go back to the full House, which must then approve or reject the amendment. If the House approves, the measure goes to the governor. If the House rejects it, the measure probably goes to a conference committee.
Mr. Barry's action Wednesday garnered a lot of attention - particularly his reference to committee members as "pinkos," a derogatory term for leftists.
Yesterday, members joked about that and the bill.
"If it's pink to stand up for individual rights, individual freedoms, then I'll plead guilty," said Sen. R. Edward Houck, Spotsylvania Democrat and one of the two who voted against the bill in committee yesterday.

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