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TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 3/5/19-Gov. Ron DeSantis, center, is applauded by House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, left, and Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, while he gives his first State of the State address during the Opening Day of the 2019 Legislative session at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO


2019 Session Opening Day: Ron DeSantis tells Legislature, ‘be bold’

Here’s what happened during DeSantis’ first State of the State.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is asking the Legislature for some follow-through.

DeSantis’ first State of the State Address on Tuesday came with little surprise, serving as an on-brand recap of his action-packed first two months in office.

“In less than 60 days, my administration has taken bold action to address issues that Floridians care about,” DeSantis said during the speech, marking the start of the Legislative Session. 

Bold is the brand of Republican DeSantis’ administration. Now he wants to see it carry over to the GOP-led Legislature.

“Be bold in championing economic opportunity, be bold in protecting Florida’s environment, be bold in improving education, be bold in defending the safety of our communities, be bold because while perfection is not attainable, if we aim high we can achieve excellence,” he said.

It’s that type of attitude that might be required to act on DeSantis’ $91.3 billion budget — the largest proposed in state history.

DeSantis highlighted his pricey ask for the environment: $625 million a year, totaling $2.5 billion by the time he is up for re-election.

“We cannot leave for tomorrow that which we can do today,” he said.

On other proposals with less sticker shock or potential resistance, DeSantis’ guests helped him drive home his message.

DeSantis has proposed ideas to decrease the wait-lists for Florida Tax Credit and Gardiner scholarships. Floridians affected by both lists were in attendance. 

Hurricane Michael made landfall in Mexico Beach. DeSantis recognized during his speech Mayor Al Cathey and Administrator Tanya Castro.

“They and many others affected by the storm have displayed remarkable resilience in the face of huge obstacles,” DeSantis said. “They deserve our admiration — and our support.”

DeSantis took time to support the recommendations published by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission. The panel, spawned after the Parkland shooting last year, encouraged the arming of teachers.

Some of DeSantis’ comments were sharply partisan.

He took a dig at the momentum of pro-choice policies on late-term abortions in New York and Virginia. “We will not allow such things to happen here in Florida,” he said.

DeSantis also reiterated his support for a ban on “sanctuary cities,” coined for local governments who refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials.

“Florida will not be a sanctuary state — we won’t allow someone here illegally to commit criminal misconduct and simply be returned to our communities,” DeSantis said. “And we won’t tolerate sanctuary cities that actively frustrate law enforcement by shielding criminal aliens from accountability at the expense of public safety.”

Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, called  DeSantis a far-right politician who is determined to destroy our public schools, demonize our immigrant communities, and do nothing to expand access to health care.”

“As Session begins, I want to make clear that Florida Democrats will never be afraid to stand up for our values and we will forcefully oppose DeSantis’ efforts to divide our state and impose a Betsy Devos-inspired voucher scheme,” Rizzo added.

DeSantis had spoken of empowering the Legislature during remarks given on the day he took office in January. This time he again commended lawmaker and expressed support for one chamber leader’s priority.

“I’m supportive of Speaker [Jose] Oliva’s call to foster innovation and competition in our health care system,” he said.

Written By

Danny McAuliffe is a Tallahassee correspondent for Florida Politics. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as the editor of the FSView & Florida Flambeau. He is a lifelong Floridian and indulges in swimming, hiking, running and memes when the news cycle permits. Reach him at

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