DeSantis bills signed in Florida target trans rights, abortion and education
Seeking to raise his stock with his Republican base for his presumptive presidential bid, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida this year ticked many boxes on a far-right wish list of laws restricting abortion rights, child care sexual transition for minors and education on sexual orientation.
Expand capital punishment and who can carry a concealed firearm in their state? Check. Target Disney? Check.
And he may soon remove the requirement that he resign as governor to run for president.
A bill signing frenzy and a culture war agenda have laid the groundwork for Mr. DeSantis’ candidacy, which seeks to position himself as a viable alternative to former President Donald J. Trump, the GOP frontrunner and a former ally. .
Here are the bills Mr. DeSantis has signed this year:
Ban on abortion for six weeks
In April, Mr. DeSantis signed a law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, making Florida one of the most restrictive states in the country when it comes to reproductive rights. As a result, the state will no longer be a destination for women from across the Deep South seeking abortions.
Emboldened by last year’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Republicans used their supermajorities in the Florida Legislature to push the measure forward. It replaced a 15-week abortion ban Mr DeSantis signed in April 2022, before the country’s High Court dropped 50 years of legal precedent on abortion.
But unlike the previous ban, which Mr. DeSantis had promoted with a bill signing at a church, he ushered in the six-week ban in his office late at night without public notice except for a group of supporters who joined him.
The law provides exceptions for rape, incest and to save a mother’s life. It won’t go into effect until the Florida Supreme Court decides to challenge the 15-week restriction.
Prohibit transitional care for minors
In mid-May, as he was finalizing his presidential bid, DeSantis signed a measure banning gender transition care for minors and restricting it for adults, the latest move by Republicans this year targeting communities. LGBTQ in Florida.
It has imposed a sentence of up to five years in prison for doctors who violate the ban and requires adults seeking gender transition care to sign a consent form.
The teaching of “identity politics,” a longstanding concern of right-wing Republicans, is prohibited in public institutions by law, which has also weakened land protections.
In March, Mr. DeSantis presented another trophy to the Conservatives by creating a universal school voucher program. Critics said the $8,000 per year per student benefit would undermine public schools and further enrich wealthy families because it has no income eligibility cap.
Abortion wasn’t the only issue on which Florida took a right turn this year: capital punishment was another.
In April, Mr. DeSantis signed a bill that will significantly lower the threshold for the imposition of the death penalty. It will no longer be necessary to have a unanimous vote of 12 members of a jury to condemn a person to death. An 8-4 majority would be sufficient under the new law, which is expected to face legal challenges from criminal justice reform groups.
The vast majority of the 27 states that allow the death penalty require unanimous votes from juries. Alabama is one of the exceptions: a majority of 10 to 2 is sufficient. In deadlocked juries, judges decide in Indiana and Missouri.
In Florida, Republicans have pushed for an extension of the death penalty after a jury last year handed down a life sentence to the man who murdered 17 people in the mass shooting of 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Nine of the 12 jury members voted. for the death penalty.
Around the same time a super PAC backing Mr. DeSantis called Mr. Trump a “gun grabber,” the governor signed legislation in April allowing Floridians to carry concealed weapons without a permit.
Starting July 1, gun owners will no longer be required to complete a safety course and background check, a drop in calls for tougher gun laws in the state after the shootings mass in 2018 at Parkland and in 2016 at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
Mr. DeSantis and his allies have sought to paint Mr. Trump as squishy on the Second Amendment, with the super PAC suggesting the former president “cut and run like a coward” on gun rights issues when he was to the White House.
Disney Surveillance and Immigration
In an escalation of hostilities between Mr. DeSantis and Disney, which Republicans have turned into an avatar of “woke” culture, the governor signed a series of bills targeting the company and its autonomy over a special tax district that is home to Disney World. .
The measure, which Republicans and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement say was necessary for security reasons, will create a shroud of secrecy over who pays for Mr. DeSantis’ trip and how he divides his time as governor and candidate in the presidential election.
Even Mr. Trump has weighed in on the issue, saying in a campaign statement in April that Mr. DeSantis was not transparent about how much taxpayer money he was spending on travel.
Yet there is another bill awaiting Mr. DeSantis’ signature that is closely tied to his political ambitions. This would immediately eliminate the requirement that he resign as governor to run for president. It may not even need a pen: it will automatically take effect if it is not signed.
The report was provided by Nicolas Nehamas, Patricia Mazzei, Travel Gabriel, Nick Corasaniti And Brooks Barnes.