Ron DeSantis’ 5 o’clock news dump
Ron DeSantis defends meeting in Jerusalem.

HB 5 will be fiercely litigated.

It’s the oldest trick in the political playbook. 

If you have to unveil a turd — do it at 5 o’clock on a Friday. 

For as long as there have been newspapers, politicians have used the end of the media day at the end of a media week to make public those things that they genuinely hope the public won’t notice. 

Even with a 24-hour news cycle, this practice persists — like this past Friday, when the 4:47 p.m. email came from the Governor’s Office, announcing that Ron DeSantis had signed 38 bills. Buried in the middle of the list was HB 5, a draconian measure designed to put an end to the citizen initiative process in Florida.

Twenty-eight times in the last half-century the citizens of Florida had the audacity to make policy without the permission of the governing class. 

Over the same period, 80 percent of the proposed constitutional amendments on our ballots were put there by politicians and their appointees — not citizen petition initiatives. And the government has also passed thousands of laws and regulations that affect our daily lives.

It’s no surprise that DeSantis signed HB 5. He signaled that he would, and if you believe press reports, he took the unusual step of resurrecting it on the last day of the Legislative Session.

His stated reason: He’s opposed to policymaking via constitutional amendment. 

The Legislature’s stated reason for passing it? To protect our constitution from nefarious out-of-state billionaires and Russian oligarchs (no, I’m not making up the Russian oligarch thing — that’s what the sponsor said while defending the bill in committee).

But another page in the political playbook says that there are two reasons for everything — the stated reason and the real reason. 

Pardon my cynicism, but if there is so much concern about policymaking in the constitution, then why did the lawmakers reject legislation that would have reigned-in or eliminated the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC)? Last year there were twenty-four proposed amendments on the ballot in the form of twelve ballot questions. Two of them were put there by citizens. Nineteen were glommed together into seven ballot questions through a CRC practice called “bundling” because, unlike amendments proposed by citizens, CRC amendments don’t have to be “single subject.” 

I know … it’s shocking that politicians have different rules for themselves.

If Gov. DeSantis and Republican legislators are so concerned about the sanctity of the constitution, then why are they imprisoning the jaywalking citizens while letting the constitutional serial killers run free? And if lawmakers have so much reverence for the Florida Constitution, why do they routinely violate it by ignoring the parts they don’t like?

I will recant all of these words if, during the next Session, lawmakers pass legislation to create a statutory initiative process as many other states have. That way, citizens can amend statutes for policy matters that don’t belong in the constitution. 

And when politicians are out of step with the will of the people, citizens can have their say without defiling the sacred constitution. 

I don’t suspect I’ll be eating my words anytime soon, because the real reason for HB 5 is to get pesky peons to sit down and shut up. 

I can already hear my friend Rep. Jamie Grant saying, “ … but we live in a Republic, not a democracy …” Again, this is Florida, not California, and when it comes to what’s on our ballot, voters have shown more restraint and sobriety than has the governing class.

DeSantis’ 5 p.m. Friday signing of HB 5 may have temporarily kept attention away from controversy associated with his action. 

But this law will be fiercely litigated, and all or parts of it will likely be struck down as violating either the Florida Constitution, the U.S. Constitution, or both. 

Unlike last day of Session shenanigans (or a 5 o’clock Friday bill signing) that litigation will get lots of ongoing public attention, and DeSantis will become the face of this ugly law, much like after-the-fact litigation turned Gov. Rick Scott into the obstinate face opposing the will of the people with regard to medical marijuana. 

DeSantis keenly understood the politics of siding with the people on that issue. But by doing the bidding of the Tallahassee-industrial-complex opposed to ordinary people having their say, he won’t have that luxury going forward — no matter what time of day or day of the week.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


  • Fed Up

    June 12, 2019 at 8:50 am

    It should be clear that:

    1. Citizen partitions are the only way the populous can fight back against gerrymandered districts. As long as the legislature is perpetually run by one party, it is in their best interest to ensure, as much as possible, that they control the constitutional amendment process.

    2. This Republican legislature didn’t kill the CRC because they are making a bet they will be in power when the next Commission is empowered and their party will be in control of selecting the Commissioners.

    End of story…

  • RICK

    June 13, 2019 at 11:37 am

    PETER, you should wear toilet paper as a tie for how much sh*t you spoke here. where do I start? …. The Russians maybe? how ironic that you would dare question the Russian narrative cause that’s what we’ve all been saying when it came down to Russian “interference” into our election. which turned up nothing ! but yet you’d like us to doubt Russian’s interference into Florida’s political system when your guy, who lost the senate seat in November in florida , warned that he had intel on Russians hacking Florida’s electoral system. Which was more horse dung that no body believed .

    how about the part where u talk about the political play book, where theres the said reason then the real reason…. that wouldn’t apply to democrats and their witch hunt does it?

    I for one am extremely glad DeSantis signed this law. He saved florida from the communist, socialist democrats circumventing a republics laws with their BS signatures just like all their fake BS votes in an election (ie Dead ppl and illegals voting) but I know you don’t believe that either.

    Im elated that we are deep red here in florida now more than ever. The greatest years of florida are still ahead of us with 2 republican senators, a republican supreme court and our majority in Tallahassee . don’t forget Ashley moody ! : )

    don’t like it? try California / you might find it more like home!

    • abra alexander

      June 13, 2019 at 8:17 pm

      You’re crazy. But you’re about the two sides of the Russia argument. Bottom line ballot boxes are easy to tamper with people are not. Fake signatures are not the reason the marijuana vote or the felons rights vote came to the ballot. You can pretend otherwise but that was Florida talking. Have a discussion without mentioning red, communists, liberal or any signaling words and you’ll make more sense.

      • gary

        June 14, 2019 at 12:29 pm


        You are wrong. Florida has the same problem as many states like California. Over 400000 Californians last year used lack of citizenship to avoid jury duty, yet they were ALL chosen by the courts using the VOTER rolls! Don’t tell me about the purity of elections. We all know that Democrats voters have turned out to be dead buried for years. Democrats are mostly unAmerican or lack enthusiasm for ethics and morals.

    • gary

      June 14, 2019 at 12:22 pm


      Clap Clap Clap! Could not have said it better had I said it myself! The #FakeNews such as this site has turned out to be does not even try to hide their propaganda any more.

Comments are closed.


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