Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis pledged to defund all diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs at public universities during a Tuesday press conference in Bradenton, Florida.

Florida Gov. DeSantis, GOP To Target Culture Issues During 2023 Legislative Session

Florida’s legislative session will reconvene on Tuesday, and several GOP-backed bills are set to make their way to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk ahead of a possible 2024 campaign launch.
Florida Gov. DeSantis (TFP File Photo)

Florida’s legislative session will reconvene on Tuesday, and several GOP-backed bills are set to make their way to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk ahead of a possible 2024 campaign launch.

The Republican supermajority legislature will propose various conservative bills over the next two months, including legislation relating largely to education, along with other gun rights, immigration, and death penalty proposals.

These GOP-led efforts come before a likely presidential announcement by the governor to give him more legislative successes to campaign on.

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“I’ve never seen a governor in my lifetime with this much absolute control of the agenda in Tallahassee as Ron DeSantis,” Florida lobbyist Brian Ballard told the Tampa Bay Times.

The legislature will expand on the Parental Rights in Education bill through several bills, focusing on LGBTQ students and faculty’s usage of pronouns, according to Politico. Faculty may not ask students for their preferred pronouns, and employees aren’t permitted to relay their pronouns if they aren’t consistent with their sex.

Restrictions on teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity will be applied to pre-k through 8th grade, an extension of the previous K-3 provision, Politico reported.

Lawmakers said children should learn about these topics from their parents, and not from their school.

Critics call this the “Don’t Say They” bill, a play on the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which opponents dubbed last year’s parental rights bill. The bills would also increase library transparency, allowing parents to see what books and reading materials their children are exposed to.

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“Our schools should be teaching students to respect and obey their parents, not hiding critical information from them,” Kathleen Passidomo, Republican Senate President, told Politico in a statement.

The two bills differ slightly in that FL HB 1223 expands parental rights to charter schools and FL SB 1320 requires Florida schools to teach students that “biological males impregnate biological females” and “reproductive roles are binary, stable, and unchangeable.”

“We want parents to be more responsible for their children,” Rep. Ralph Massullo told Politico. “And we believe … preteens shouldn’t be sexualized in schools by our education system.”

Another proposal bolsters state-funded private school vouchers by providing the Family Empowerment Scholarship, allowing access for K-12 students of any income, according to Politico. A package bill proposes forbidding spending on diversity, equity, inclusion, and critical race theory (CRT) programs. It also prohibits majors and minors in CRT and gender ideology.

FL SB 256 provides restrictions for the state’s teachers’ unions. The governor said that these “partisan unions” shouldn’t play a role in Florida’s education system, Politico reported.

Another bill would ban diversity programs and classes in higher education, another would ban gender-affirming care for minors, and a gun rights bill would allow permitless carry of a concealed weapon. The governor is lobbying for the death penalty in cases where the jury isn’t unanimous.

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The governor’s immigration bill proposal sets forth more intense restrictions and penalties for human smuggling and the detention of illegal aliens, like prohibiting anyone who entered the country unlawfully from receiving an identification card and strengthening E-verify requirements so employers ensure their employees are citizens.

DeSantis also proposed legislation protecting the state from environmental, social, and governance practices, or ESG, prohibiting financial institutions from discriminating against Floridians for their political beliefs.

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