Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida has called for increased state sanctions against Iran in response to their alleged support of Hamas in the recent deadly surprise attack in Israel. Speaking at a South Florida synagogue, DeSantis announced his intention to propose legislation during the 2024 legislative session that would further restrict Iranian business ties within the state. While the specifics of the proposal have not yet been released, it is expected to impact various sectors, including finance, construction, manufacturing, and mining.
DeSantis, who is also a Republican presidential candidate, emphasized that this proposal would reinforce Florida’s commitment to not engage in business with state sponsors of terrorism. The governor stated, “We’re going to prohibit state and local governments from contracting with any company on this expanded sectors list, and we will not lift the sanctions until both the president and the U.S. Congress certify that Iran has stopped supporting international terrorism in seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction.”
However, not everyone is convinced of the effectiveness of these enhanced state sanctions. Representative Anna Eskamani, a Democrat from Orlando whose parents immigrated from Iran, questioned the uniqueness of state-level sanctions and pointed out that the United States already imposes heavy sanctions on Iran. Eskamani stated, “I have never even heard of a state sanctioning a foreign country, and the United States has already placed heavy sanctions on Iran which have been pretty constant through several presidents.”
It is worth noting that Florida already designates Iran as a “foreign country of concern,” along with China, Russia, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Syria. Since 2008, the state has prohibited state agencies and local governments from contracting for goods and services of more than $1 million with businesses that have contracts with the Iranian government. Furthermore, a state law enacted this year imposed land-ownership restrictions on individuals from these foreign countries of concern.
The United States and Iran have had no formal diplomatic relationship since 1979, when Iranians took over the American embassy, according to the U.S. Department of State. The U.S. has implemented numerous sanction programs to limit access to the United States for companies engaged in certain commercial activities in Iran.
Both Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and House Speaker Paul Renner expressed their support for Governor DeSantis’ proposal. Passidomo stated, “We must ensure we are doing everything within our authority as a state government to protect Floridians from this dangerous and corrupt regime.” The 2024 legislative session is set to begin in January, and resolutions supporting the people of Israel have already been filed. Eskamani suggested that Florida could expand services and provide financial support for refugees.
As part of the state’s response to terrorism, DeSantis announced that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Highway Patrol, and Attorney General Ashley Moody will issue a reminder that Florida bars actions supporting terrorism, including fundraising for Hamas or other similar groups. Governor DeSantis remains committed to taking decisive action against Iran and its alleged support of terrorism.
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