Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ office released a statement Thursday following the passage of one of the most controversial proposals of the 2021 Legislation Session.
The proposal (HB 1) contains a slew of provisions aimed at unlawful assembly and rioters. The Senate passed the bill on Thursday. It now awaits DeSantis’ signature.
“With the passage of HB 1, the Florida Legislature has answered Governor DeSantis’ call to uphold the rights of our state’s residents while protecting businesses and supporting our brave men and women in law enforcement,” said Cody McCloud, press secretary for DeSantis, in a written statement.
DeSantis and Republican leadership first spoke of the proposal in September amid a summer spree of riots and protests, sparked by a series of fatal police incidents including George Floyd in Minneapolis.
During the time, law and order stood forefront of former President Donald Trump‘s reelected campaign.
Republicans at-large embraced the narrative.
“This legislation strikes the appropriate balance of safeguarding every Floridian’s constitutional right to peacefully assemble, while ensuring that those who hide behind peaceful protest to cause violence in our communities will be punished,” the statement adds. “Further, this legislation ensures that no community in the state engages in defunding of their police.”
The bill, however, wouldn’t come to light until Jan. 6, the day of the Capitol insurrection.
Among other assertions, critics contend the bill was a direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Moreover, they argue the bill tramples free speech and will disproportionately impact minority communities.
Other provisions within the bill create an appeal system for cities that slash police budgets and a requirement that a person arrested during an unlawful assembly remain in jail until first appearance.
Proponents, meanwhile, suggest the bill is needed to protect law abiding citizens and law enforcement officers.
“The Governor looks forward to signing HB 1 into law,” the statement concluded.