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GOP Marks Senate Stall Of Mandatory Pledge Proposal

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Republican lawmakers urged the state Senate Monday to approve legislation requiring that North Carolina schools set aside time for students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, accusing the Democratic leadership of holding hostage an issue with broad public support.

Although the measure would require school districts to provide a time each day for students to recite the pledge, it would not compel students to declare the pledge. It also urges school districts to display the U.S. flag and provide curriculum on the country, flag and pledge.

Julian Casada, the rising senior at Apex High School who first proposed the idea, criticized legislators for stalling the bill.

"I didn't anticipate such a struggle. I thought we had unanimous support," Casada said after a news conference. "It's ridiculous that the Senate leadership is playing petty politics with our bill."

The Senate would have given final approval of the measure last week by merely concurring with the House proposal, which would require that schools hold a daily recitation of the pledge. Instead, Senate Democrats sent the bill to a committee that rarely meets.

Sen. Julia Boseman, D-New Hanover, called on the House to adopt her version of the bill, which is nearly identical but requires more education about North Carolina's symbols and motto.

Some house members argue that the Senate wants to help Boseman, who is currently in a tight re-election campaign.

"They're trying to wrap her in a cloak of patriotism as a vote-getter in a tight district," said Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake.

The conservative group Call-2-Action plans a massive e-mail campaign this week to push lawmakers to work out the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Tony Rand said as chairman of the Rules Committee, he wants to follow the rules. At the same time, he said, he thinks the bill will pass this week.