DeSantis vows legislature will be “most productive yet” as he ponders potential 2024 campaign

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vowed Tuesday that the upcoming legislative session will be the “most productive yet” as he continues to build the infrastructure and out-of-state political travel that suggest a potential presidential campaign pending.

His agenda, which will technically be spearheaded by the Republican supermajority in the state legislature during its 60-day session, would include a six-week abortion ban, restrictions or bans on transgender care, illegal carrying of firearms without consent, lawsuit reform. and may include various measures. that influence the way in which sexuality is dealt with in education.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis delivers the “State of the State” Address at the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida on March 7, 2023.

CHENEY ORR/AFP via Getty Images

He has proposed a $115 billion budget, which includes a $2 billion tax cut package, pay increases for teachers, infrastructure projects and funding for some of his more controversial policies, such as his election policing unit and transporting migrants out of the country. stands.

DeSantis won reelection in November 2022 by about 19 points, saying on Tuesday his large margin “justifies our combined efforts over the past four years.”

“Don’t worry about the chattering class. Ignore all the background noise. Keep the compass on true north. We’ll stand strong. We’ll hold the line. We won’t back down and I can promise you this, you I’ve got nothing yet seen,” he said in his state address.

DeSantis has hinted that his decision on an eventual presidential run in 2024 could come after the legislative session ends in early May. He is scheduled to hold “Freedom Blueprint” events Friday in Iowa, the first state in the GOP presidential nomination process, and Nevada, another early presidential primary state, on Saturday.

“Give us a few months. We’ll get a lot of wins and we’ll be in a better position to make a decision about the future,” DeSantis told Fox News on Sunday when asked about his plans for 2024.

Well before DeSantis addressed the legislature in Tallahassee on Tuesday, much of the legislative agenda he’s proposing has already been submitted to the legislature.

Those more than 1,700 bills include a six-week abortion ban, the elimination of concealed carry permits, a law requiring paid “bloggers” to register with the state, banning the use of students’ preferred pronouns in schools and the expanding the 2022 “Parental Rights in Education” Bill to ban “classroom teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity” for eighth graders and younger.

“We’re talking about a lot of these really big issues that have come through. And Floridians have sent us all back, as of last November, with a mandate,” Republican Representative Alex Rizo, also chairman of the Miami-Dade County GOP, told CBS. News earlier this month following a DeSantis event in Doral, Florida.

An open question that could affect DeSantis if he chooses to run is whether Florida Republicans would repeal the state’s “resign-to-run law” that prohibits a state official from running for an active governor. while running for federal office. The state repealed the law in 2007, when then-Governor Republican Charlie Crist was a potential vice presidential nominee for Republican presidential nominee John McCain in 2008.

But former Republican governor and now-Sen. Rick Scott reinstated the law in 2018 requiring office holders to submit a letter of resignation 10 days before qualifying to run for federal office. While that resignation would not take effect until the day the office holder is sworn in, it would still take effect regardless of whether the nominee wins or not. Currently, if DeSantis runs for office, whether he wins or loses, his resignation would take effect January 20, 2025.

No “resign-to-run” bills had been introduced as of early Tuesday morning, though Florida Republican leaders Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and House Speaker Paul Renner have expressed support for it.

Here are some of the bills to watch during the Florida Legislative Session:

Abortion ban of 6 weeks

SB300 would ban abortions six weeks and beyond, with the exception of pregnancies caused by rape or incest (so long as the abortion occurs 15 weeks or earlier). It also prohibits abortion-related medication from being sent by mail. When asked in 2022 if he would sign a six-week abortion ban known as a “heartbeat bill,” DeSantis went broad and said, “I’m willing to sign great life legislation.”

Asked on Tuesday for his thoughts on the proposed six-week ban, DeSantis said he thought the exceptions were “sensible” and that “we welcome pro-life legislation.”

Carry firearm concealed

HB 543 allows concealed carry of a firearm without a permit and removes the requirements for a criminal background check and completion of firearms training to obtain a concealed weapons permit. DeSantis told reporters after Tuesday’s speech that he would support carrying unlicensed firearms because “when it’s concealed, it makes it easier for someone to potentially commit a crime.” But he added that he would not veto a hidden carrying account without a permit from his legislature if it does not have an open carrying duty.

Sexual identity and schools

HB1223 defines “gender” as the “binary distribution of individuals based on reproductive function”, and requires school employees to use the student’s sex assigned at birth as their pronouns. It also prohibits “classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity” from grades K-8. (applies to public and charter schools).

A related bill is HB1069, which seeks to explicitly establish that sex taught is “determined by biology and reproductive function at birth”, promoting abstinence as the “expected norm”, and having the Department of Education approve all materials used for sex education. “When you start getting into things like gender ideology, it’s very divisive. The majority of parents in Florida don’t want that in school,” DeSantis told reporters Tuesday.

“Political identity filters” in hiring

HB999 prohibits state universities from using “statements of diversity, equality, and inclusion,” rhetoric critical of race theory, or “other forms of political identity filtering” as part of their hiring process. It also gives the Board of Governors more power to review the “missions” of public universities, and allows state universities to conduct post-tenure reviews of professors at any time.

Capital punishment

SB450 would remove the requirement for a unanimous jury decision to issue the death penalty. Instead, only eight of the 12 jurors would have to vote to hand down the death penalty. DeSantis has been out on the issue after Parkland gunman Nikolas Cruz was spared the death penalty after the 12-member jury failed to reach a unanimous decision.

Blogger Reporting Requirements

SB1316 would require bloggers — not newspapers or “other similar” publications — who are paid to write about a government official (legislators, office workers, or a member of the executive branch) to register with the state within five days of their initial registration. message mentioning an elected state official. They will have to submit monthly reports on what they wrote about and how much they paid for it.

DeSantis said Tuesday that he “never supported” this bill and criticized the bill’s attributions to him. “People have a right to introduce legislation, they have a right to make different kinds of amendments… but the 120 [lawmakers] have an independent agency to do things. For example, I don’t have control over every bill that has been submitted or has amendments.”

Media and defamation lawsuits

HB991 would redefine the standards for a libel lawsuit, and what constitutes “actual malice” on the part of a reporter. It says that statements from anonymous sources are “presumed false” and that if a reporter fails to identify a source, the plaintiff must only prove that the reporter “acted negligently” by including that source.

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