Gov. DeSantis celebrates GOP wins, claims little left to accomplish.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stated on Friday that there “wasn’t much meat left on the bone” for future assemblies following a contentious and important legislative session. Lawmakers filed over 1,800 bills this year, with 337 of them clearing both chambers after sixty days, with some potentially creating a pathway for DeSantis to reach the White House. Sen. President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples emphasized that they had passed many significant pieces of legislation in the best interest of all constituents.
The year’s big bills included a budget of $117 billion, which was the largest in the state’s history, along with a six-week abortion ban, near billion-dollar affordable housing plan, universal school vouchers, and tort reform, to name a few. Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, claimed that the session was “epic,” and that the supermajority came to this session with a mandate, which Republicans utilized to greenlight nearly all of the governor’s big goals. These goals included limits on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in higher education, more Disney provisions, stricter enforcement of immigration law, permit-less concealed carry, and easier access to the death penalty.
When asked about a potential White House bid, DeSantis refrained from providing an answer and stated that his focus was on going through the budget that had just passed. However, his GOP colleagues suggested that any conservative could benefit from having their name attached to this year’s slate of bills. State Representative Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, believed that it would be political malpractice if the governor did not throw his hat into the ring for President, reminding that Florida is experiencing a moment and that the governor needs to capitalize on this.
Meanwhile, Florida Democrats released a new advertisement attacking the governor’s potential White House run and warned that this year’s legislative session would hurt more Floridians than it would help, while others like House Minority Leader Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, argued that the Legislature missed the chance to address issues of affordability in favor of passing culture war bills. Nevertheless, of the more than 300 bills approved this year, lawmakers noted that around 80% of them received broad, bipartisan support, indicating some degree of agreement across party lines.
Overall, this year’s legislative session in Florida proved to be controversial and consequential, with conflicting opinions as to its ultimate impact on the state and its political landscape. Regardless, one thing is clear: the session saw some of the largest bills in Florida’s history passed, possibly paving way for the governor’s future ambitions.