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Lawsuits against 5 bills signed by DeSantis defended at taxpayers’ expense

Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session, Friday, April 30, 2021, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla.
Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session, Friday, April 30, 2021, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – At least five lawsuits have already been filed against bills passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

More suits are on the way, and in the end, taxpayers will pick up the tab for defending them.

Lawsuits have already been filed against bills changing elections laws, initiative contribution limits and anti-protest legislation.

The League of Women Voters of Florida filed the first suit against the election changes.

“It’s going to be less convenient to cast your ballot in Florida. There’s no reason for this,” said League President Patricia Brigham.

For each piece of legislation being challenged or about to be challenged, there were warnings.

“Just because you are in power, it doesn’t mean you can do what you want to do,” said State Senator Shevrin Jones.

Lawmakers tried to thread the needle of the citizen initiative bill by limiting contributions to petition gathering efforts, but removing them for the election campaign.

Nick Warren is handling the case for the ACLU.

“It effectively kills the initiative on the front end, rather than the back end. Because you’ll never get your hundreds of thousands of signatures, you’ll never reach ballot status if you can’t afford to pay to collect those signatures,” said Warren.

The state has near unlimited resources within the Attorney General’s $103 million dollar office budget.

Even with hundreds of staff attorneys, outside powerhouse law firms often get the nod to defend the state in controversial cases, costing tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

No Casino’s Inc. is expected to sue over sports betting in the new gaming compact.

“Be it Washington or Tallahassee or wherever they felt like they can do whatever they want to do until somebody sues and proves them wrong,” said No Casinos President John Sowinski.

Lawmakers are fond of telling reporters their job is to pass legislation and let the courts decide if it is constitutional.

Either way, taxpayers pick up the tab.

Lawsuits challenging regulations on Big Tech are expected to draw multiple participants, so is a ban on transgender athletes.

A number of local preemption bills passed this year could bring also legal challenges.