As Florida leads the way in all the wrong categories, including unaffordable housing and ineffective climate change mitigation measures, the Governor and the Republican-led State Legislature continue to file and pass regressive, dangerous, and cruel bills.
In this session alone, the legislature has already passed in at least one chamber:
HB (House Bill) 543/ SB (Senate Bill) 15: Permitless Carry aka the Guns Everywhere Bill
Citizens are now allowed to carry concealed weapons without a permit or any training requirements. This bill was universally panned as dangerous to public safety. Both chambers passed the bill, and the Governor signed it into law behind closed doors, surrounded by members of the gun lobby, without his customary self-serving press conference.
HB 1/SB 202: Defunding of Public Education
Disguised with the misleading mantra of “school choice,” both versions of this bill passed. This bill siphons billions of taxpayer dollars from public education and places it into less accountable religious and charter schools. Flanked by children for quite the photo-op, the Governor signed this into law.
HB 1069/SB 1320: Expanding the “Don’t Say Gay” bill
This bill, titled the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, is expanding the controversial bill from 2022 beyond third grade, where no child is to be addressed with their preferred pronouns. Democrats introduced an amendment where children can be addressed by their preferred pronouns with their parent’s permission, and this was struck down in committee. Additional provisions include girls being unable to discuss their menstrual cycles. With misinformation at alarming levels, this is detrimental to the public good.
HB 7/SB 300: Six Week Abortion Ban:
After previously passing a controversial 15-week ban, the Senate passed their version of this controversial bill. Many women are unaware that they are even pregnant at 6 weeks, making this new measure effectively a total ban. These restrictive bills are generally unpopular and have failed as ballot measures in several heavily Republican states (Kentucky and Kansas included). Abortion bans have received heavy backlash since the controversial SCOTUS decision in 2022 and attracted several protests, including Tallahassee during this session.
Recently, Senate Republicans introduced SB 7050, yet another voter suppression bill. The 98-page bill was introduced less than 24 hours before its first committee. Provisions include forcing first-time voters to vote in person ONLY, a detriment especially for college aged voters who may live on campus in another state and are unable to make the trip for Election Day. Politicians would have to disclose campaign donors less frequently.
The Republicans have a super majority in both chambers. Bills that are broadly popular and/or solve issues facing Floridians as opposed to the wasteful culture wars face an uphill battle and are not currently on any committee’s agenda. This includes an assault weapons ban (HB 579/SB 462), Keep Floridians Housed Act/Tenant’s Bill of Rights (HB 1407/SB 1658), and Creating a State Department of Labor (HB 137) to enforce minimum wage laws and ensure safe working conditions.
This is an uneasy and dangerous time for all of us. We must persist. None of this will go away overnight, nor without a lot of work. Play the long game. One election cycle will hardly be enough to flip the legislature. Stay involved. Stay engaged. Hold your elected officials accountable when they don’t serve your interests. Most of all, VOTE.
NOTE: Check this blog for updates as the legislative session continues.