From the death penalty to gender identity to abortion, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis cemented himself as the conservative standard-bearer in the lead-up to his 2024 presidential announcement.
With the help of GOP supermajorities in the statehouse, the Republican was able to push an aggressive agenda that became the basis of his White House run, which he made official in a Federal Election Commission filing Wednesday.
Here is a look at some of the policies:
DeSantis signed a bill banning it abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, but it will not take effect unless the state’s 15-week ban is upheld in an ongoing legal challenge that is before the state Supreme Court, which is controlled by conservatives.
A six-week ban in Florida would deal a devastating blow to abortion access in the South, as neighboring states Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi ban the procedure at all stages of pregnancy. It is banned in Georgia and South Carolina after heart activity is detected, which is about six weeks.
Critics, including some Republicans, have criticized the six-week law as harsh, because most women don’t even realize they’re pregnant during that time.
“DON’T SAY BOY”
The DeSantis administration expanded the controversial law that critics called “Don’t Say Gay” to cover all grades, banning classroom teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.
The move comes after DeSantis signed a bill last year banning such lessons through third grade, a policy he advocated as a way to protect children from sexuality.
This year, the DeSantis administration put a proposal before the state Board of Education extend the policy to grades 4-12, unless required by current state standards or as part of reproductive health instruction that students may choose not to take. The board, appointed by DeSantis, approved the proposal and the Legislature signed it into law.
DeSantis education officials said the policy is meant to make it clear that teachers must follow the state’s education curriculum.
DeSantis signed a bill barring school staff or students necessary to refer to people by pronouns which does not correspond to human sex.
The law also prohibits school employees from asking students what pronouns they use and prohibits staff from sharing their pronouns with students if they do not match the staff member’s gender.
Additionally, the law makes it the policy of every public school that “a person’s gender is an unchangeable biological characteristic and that it is wrong to assign a person a pronoun that does not correspond to that person’s gender.” .”
DeSantis signed two major death penalty laws this year.
The first ending a unanimous jury requirement on the death penalty, which allows the death penalty with a jury recommendation of at least 8-4 in favor of murder. Only three of the 27 states that impose the death penalty do not require unification. Alabama allows a 10-2 decision, and Missouri and Indiana allow a single judge to decide when there is a split jury.
The change came in response to a verdict that spared the life of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter, who killed 17 people in 2018.
Another death penalty bill signed by DeSantis allows for death penalty for child rape convictionsdespite the US Supreme Court decision banning the death penalty in such cases.
The law is intended to get the conservative-controlled US Supreme Court to reconsider a 2008 decision that found it unconstitutional to use the death penalty in child sexual battery cases.
Florida is one of the few states with existing laws that allow the death penalty for child rape convictions but do not use the penalty. the judgment of the high court was given. The Florida Supreme Court has also ruled against the use of the death penalty in sexual battery convictions.
DeSantis said he believes the Supreme Court’s decision was “wrong.”
Floridians can carry concealed guns no permit under a bill signed by DeSantis this session.
The new law will allow anyone who can legally own a gun in Florida to carry it without a permit. This means training and a background check are not required to carry concealed handguns in public. It is effective July 1.
Nearly 3 million Floridians have a concealed handgun permit. While a background check and three-day wait are still required to purchase a gun from a licensed dealer, it is not required for private transactions or gun exchanges.
DeSantis said he thinks Florida should go further and allow people to openly carry guns. While some lawmakers are pushing for open carry, it does not appear that the Legislature will pass such legislation this session.
However, the governor expanded the law, releasing a statement that read “Constitutional Carry is in the books” after he signed it into law.
Another new law prohibits colleges from using state or federal funds for diversity, equity and inclusion programs, a constant target of DeSantis.
Such initiatives, sometimes called DEI, have come under growing criticism from Republicans who argue that the programs are racially divisive.
The law comes a year after he signed legislation called the Stop WOKE Act, which restricts certain race-based conversations and analysis in schools and businesses. Last year’s law banned instruction that said members of a race are inherently racist or should feel guilty for past actions committed by others of the same race, among others.
DeSantis also continued his long-standing feud Disney this year.
The company came into its crosshairs for criticizing the so-called Don’t Say Gay law last year.
As punishment, DeSantis dissolved Disney World’s self-governing district and appointed a new board of supervisors to oversee municipal services at several theme parks. But before the new board came in, the company pushed through an eleventh-hour deal that stripped the new supervisors of much of their authority.
Disney sued DeSantis in federal court in a lawsuit alleging the governor engaged in a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” after the company challenged the sexual orientation and gender identity law.
DeSantis has already signed bills to improve state oversight of the resort’s monorail as well as undo agreements Disney’s board made before the state took it over.