TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – When Florida lawmakers begin their annual session Tuesday, the 124th since statehood, they are required to do just two things: redraw the state’s legislative and congressional districts and pass a balanced budget.
But the GOP majority has a long list of election-year priorities.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has laid out a long list of requests that include bonuses for teachers and first responders and giving parents the right to sue school boards that violate state laws.
He talked about some of the requests on national TV over the weekend.
“We’re going after critical race theory. We’re fighting back against [President Joe] Biden’s mandates. We’re fighting back against illegal immigration,” DeSantis said on “Life Liberty & Levin.”
State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, believes it will be a slam dunk for the governor.
“I think the governor will get most of what he wants. The strategy around here right now is to kind of draft behind the governor. He’s doing a lot of good things in a lot of areas,” Brandes said.
For now, the legislative session is going to be completely open to the public with no COVID-19 restrictions.
Lobbyists were already walking the halls Monday.
Charles Fudge, 74, was sent to a state reform school when he was 12. He and hundreds of other wards of the school are seeking compensation for the beatings and abuse.
“Had I never gone there, I probably would have been a very good football player. I’m sure I would have served our country in the military,” Futch said.
Futch said more White House Boys will be at the Capitol Tuesday for opening day.
During a morning virtual event, Democrats — including state Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa — criticized much of the governor’s agenda.
“What we can expect from this governor is consistency in terms of doubling down on his failed approach to the pandemic,” said Driskell.
Brandes calls it the wrong approach.
“I think it’s the wrong message for them. That’s not the right message at all. He’s getting kids back in school. He’s keeping the state open,” Brandes said.
And in his first three sessions, DeSantis has gotten virtually everything he asked from lawmakers and more. 2022 isn’t likely to break his streak.
Two pressing problems not high on lawmakers’ agenda are a crumbling prison system and property insurance bills increasing by as much as 30% or more a year.