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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Christmas may be six-plus months away, but it s already on the minds of Gov. Rick Perry and many in the state Legislature.

The governor Thursday signed into law a bipartisan bill removing any legal risks of saying Merry Christmas in Texas public schools. He said religious freedom does not mean freedom from religion.

Traditional holiday symbols, such as a menorah or nativity scene, also are protected, so long as more than one religion and a secular symbol are also reflected.

The measure s sponsor, Houston Republican Rep. Dwayne Bohac, says it will provide schools cover from ridiculous lawsuits sparked by too much political correctness.

Bohac s bill sailed through both chambers to Perry s desk.

About 10 Santa Claus impersonators were invited to the ceremony and rang sleigh bells as he signed it.

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