To veto or not to veto: Five tough decisions facing Gov. DeSantis

RON DESANTIS BILL SIGNING (3)
Gov. DeSantis will face several tough decisions in the coming weeks.

Gov. Ron DeSantis will probably wear out a pen or two in the coming weeks.

But while signing a bill takes a matter of seconds, deciding whether a bill deserves his signature takes a lot of thought. Here are some of the bills and budget items the Governor should be thinking twice about.

Transgender sports ban

A bill (SB 1028) banning transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports landed on the Governor’s desk last week. DeSantis said in April that he planned to sign it. But if he does, there will likely be consequences.

During the Legislative Session, the NCAA warned states it might reconsider holding major events in states that pass such bans.

“When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected,” the NCAA Board of Governors wrote in a news release. “We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants.”

The bill is undoubtedly red meat for DeSantis’ base, but after the initial cheers from a relatively small number of people, there could be an uproar.

Imagine the fallout if the Orange Bowl was kicked out of the New Year’s Six — the annual event has an economic impact of up to $300 million. That’s a major penalty to draw for a purely political “win,” if you can even call it one.

The “Budget Turkey” list

Lawmakers passed a record $101.5 billion budget, and, just like every year, Florida TaxWatch has found some questionable inclusions.

This year’s Turkey list includes 116 projects worth a combined $157.5 million. It’s an admittedly small amount, and the designation isn’t meant as a condemnation — it’s applied to projects the organization says skipped the review process, were low-priority items approved early, or were projects removed from the budget then re-added in the sprinkle list.

Last year DeSantis vetoed more than 80% of the items on the list, according to Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro.

But the circumstances are different in 2021. The state budget relies on billions in federal funding, and during the budget process, legislative leaders encouraged funding for one-off projects over those requiring recurring funds.

Even if DeSantis vetoed the entire list, it would only reduce the overall budget by a fraction of a percent. Meanwhile, he could find himself on the wrong side of some of his staunch allies in the Legislature.

Rep. Jason Shoaf, for instance, has urged DeSantis to spare the Panhandle projects he fought for, noting that local governments can’t tax their way out of the budget slump. Many other items serve as lifelines to cultural centers and funding for much-needed transportation improvements.

PIP repeal

Lawmakers have been trying to repeal the state’s no-fault auto insurance system for years. In the 2021 Legislative Session, they succeeded. The bill (SB 54) passed with overwhelming support, too.

Proponents say the repeal would save Floridians cash on their insurance premiums, though the evidence is shaky. In fact, there is just as much evidence — if not more — that the repeal would lead to an out-of-control rise in insurance costs.

One study indicated it could raise rates by as much as 50% for Floridians who currently purchase minimum coverage. Those same Floridians are the least likely to be able to absorb a price increase, and if one comes their way, some will inevitably choose to roll the dice and drive without coverage. Florida already has one of the highest uninsured rates in the country.

That could lead to a spiral. A higher uninsured rate means the cost of auto accidents and injuries will be spread across fewer drivers, all of whom would end up paying more.

It’s not a fringe belief. Many of the state’s most fiscally savvy policymakers, including CFO Jimmy Patronis, oppose the bill, believing it will raise rates.

Maybe the predictions are hyperbolic. But it’s a big bet with little upshot. The most optimistic studies predict it would save a subset of Floridians a small amount of money. If it goes the other way, though, there could be a full-blown and fully preventable insurance crisis.

SLERS

The procurement process for the new Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System has been nothing short of a train wreck.

The 2021-22 budget passed by lawmakers includes $165 million in nonrecurring funding to upgrade SLERS. All of that would go to L3Harris, which would also get hundreds of millions more in the future by way of a 15-year contract at $31.5 million a year — $19 million to oversee the system and $12.5 million to lease radio towers controlled by the company.

The budget item comes after a yearslong battle between L3Harris and Motorola Solutions. Motorola Solutions won a competitive bidding process to design and build the new system, but L3Harris challenged the procurement in court while maintaining the leverage that comes with controlling the radio towers that underpin SLERS. A court affirmed their right to do so because, despite the towers being built by the state, the company formerly known as Harris Corp. held a long-term lease that gave it exclusive control over the towers.

There’s an argument to be made for a veto, but one could just as easily argue that DeSantis should let it stand.

The manner in which L3Harris secured the SLERS rebuild could set a precedent for future procurement processes. What’s the point in putting something out for a bid if the losing side can ultimately win in the Legislature?

Still, the current SLERS contract, held by L3Harris, is set to expire this year. Sending everything back to square one wouldn’t change that, and it could also put law enforcement at risk.

First responders are counting on the new deal to improve communications between state agencies and even local police departments, according to Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President Robert Jenkins, which represents several local police departments across the state, as well as the statewide Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

“We provide mutual aid. When we have hurricanes in one part of the state, we send officers to help people in those impacted communities,” Jenkins told The Capitolist. “That’s why it’s critical first responders have interoperability between radio systems.”

The radio system has been in dire need of an upgrade for years. While Motorola would argue its tech is superior and less costly — that is why it won the bidding process, after all — L3Harris is more than capable of handling the upgrade and would be providing radios that operate on the same open-source P25 technology that Motorola Solutions would have used.

DeSantis will need to decide whether to take a stand to stop future procurement wars following the same course or if he would simply like to get this long-overdue project done.

Property Insurance Reform

While the push to repeal PIP is based on a seemingly manufactured crisis, some experts believe the state’s property insurance system is in a real-deal death spiral.

Private insurers are filing larger and larger rate increases. Some are even pulling out of Florida altogether. Meanwhile, the policy count at state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. is going through the roof.

Citizens had 569,868 policies as of March 31, and it’s adding about 5,000 customers per week. Citizens Board Chairman Carlos Beruff said last month that he thinks Citizens will “easily get to 750,000, which is a very bad place.”

Lawmakers passed a bill to alleviate some of the pressures driving up costs, but the final product (SB 76) was watered down substantially from its original form. A provision that would have allowed insurers to cover the “actual” value.

Sen. Jeffrey Brandes, who helped craft the legislation, criticized adjustments demanded through negotiations in the House. “This is nowhere near enough,” he said. “This is maybe 40% of a solution.”

The bill would lead to higher rates for Floridians insured through Citizens. A key provision of the bill would eventually allow annual rate increases of 15% — up from a current cap of 10% — with the end goal of moving homeowners to the private market.

The question is whether it really is 40% of a solution and, further, whether a half-measure will be enough to make a dent or will simply raise rates for some while the industry continues to spiral.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to 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.


13 comments

  • Charles

    May 31, 2021 at 6:33 pm

    More left extremist bull crap. He WILL sign the major bills that were passed.
    Gotta love these delusional, socialist liberal journalistic fools. . Enough to vomit on off all days Memorial Day.
    More JACKASSERY on full display

    • Loida Salicrup

      June 1, 2021 at 9:03 am

      If it is so lefty why you read go and continue indoctrinating with Qanon and Faux News.

  • Brian

    June 1, 2021 at 6:45 am

    Peter, I can still see you are only looking at the pip bill one-sides. The rates will lower for most Floridians. Most people do have bodily injury coverage and they should. How do you drive a motor vehicle without liability insurance? You really want to protect Floridians? Then this is the way. Pip premiums will go away and the building injury premiums will be the same or less. You are not a journalist that looks at things from both sides it appears. You must be a chiropractor as they are the only people that want to keep pip so they can milk the pip system THAT caused our premiums to sky rocket. Pip goes away and our rates will decrease. Like you said, Florida is already one of the highest states for car insurance premiums and you don’t think it is finally time for a change? Shame on you Peter!

    • Peter Schorsch

      June 1, 2021 at 7:59 am

      Shame on me? Really. I should be ashamed because I don’t agree with you on a policy? OK.

      • Brian

        June 1, 2021 at 2:46 pm

        No Peter, because you are pushing something you clearly do not understand. I wonder who is putting you up to this. How can you possible say that mandatory bodily injury coverage is not a good move? So its okay for someone to drive without liability and kill someone or seriously injure someone and that person get zero? There is a reason why almost every state requires liability coverage and that is to protect its citizens. Like I said, most people do have liability, but everyone should. A car is a moving weapon. As such, since most people have it, most rates will decrease. PIP is rampant with fraud. Always has been and always will. time to move on and try something new as PIP is and has been broken. There is absolutely no reason why PIP benefits you or anyone else besides a medical professional. Like I said Peter, shame on you for writing an article and forming a bias opinion on something you simply do not comprehend. Some journalist.

        • Jon

          June 2, 2021 at 11:28 am

          Pip does need to be reformed but this will increase rates. The studies the reference are old. They even talk about Colorado. Insurance rates soared after Pip repeal. True reform would hit the strong lobby groups the hardest. I of 5 have no insurance some estimates are higher. We need to figure out why insurance is so expensive in Florida. Maybe a study from this year.

  • martin

    June 1, 2021 at 3:06 pm

    all of you anti-PIP people appear to be more interested in paying for someone else”s expenses rather then your own. That is why you carry uninsured motorist coverage on top of your mandated PIP.

    This “crisis” was and is manufactured by the lawyers. It will be business as usual for the lawyers, except now they will stand to earn an additional 3-5k more per case that they settle.

    As for your medical bills, good luck expecting health insurance to pick up the tap. Try this; next time you go to the grocery store tell the cashier to call your lawyer, because in 2-3 years they might get paid.
    Anyone defending this statue either does not understand insurance, or is a personal injury attorney.

    You think that we have uninsured people driving now, just wait util this time next year.
    Let’s hope Gov. Desantis can see this charade.

    • Brian

      June 1, 2021 at 8:09 pm

      Martin, you are very wrong. The percentage of people with uninsured motorist coverage in this state is minimal. If you drive a weapon you should have liability coverage. Sorry Martin, you must be a medical provider because that is the only category of people that want pip. Time to get out of the 1970s Martin. Mandatory bi is the way to go for all Floridians and not just medical providers like you.

      • Damon

        June 13, 2021 at 3:29 pm

        Brian, many of us that favor PIP like to know that we are covered when something happens. You have no idea what insurance, if any, another driver has if they are responsible for an accident. I see insurance as a way to have control when mitigating my losses.

        I have and like PIP, as is currently required, to make sure that I have medical coverage should anyone that falls under my policy becomes injured in an accident. I add Med Pay in case PIP is insufficient, uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) in case the other party is at fault and has no insurance, and bodily injury (BI) if responsible for someone else’s injury.

        I don’t think it is wise to rely on others to have appropriate insurance. The fact that all drivers should have insurance doesn’t mean that they will, and many do not, no matter what laws are passed.

        My wife, traveling with one of our daughters, was rear-ended in 2017 at an intersection here in Florida by a driver traveling at high speed (didn’t even attempt to stop for some reason) with no driver’s license and no insurance of any kind. We had absolutely no problems getting my wife and daughter appropriate and necessary care since we were fully covered in every way. The insurance that I pay for is for my family’s benefit, not the medical profession, including neurologist, spinal surgeon, and chiropractic care.
        That is what insurance is for providing. You hope you pay every month for years and never need it, but when you do, it’s nice to know you have it.

        In the end, the only way to ensure that you are insured if an accident occurs is to cover all your bases yourself and not rely on what someone else should have. That said, I have no problem with making both PIP and BI mandatory. I believe Minnesota requires both and at higher amounts.

  • Michael Richmond

    June 1, 2021 at 3:15 pm

    Pip is good. Could you imagine the Hospitals in the urban areas of Florida. They won’t get paid. They will have to wait to get paid by a lawyer only if patient was not at fault and wants to hire a lawyer. Poor people who could just afford pip are not going to be able to drive to get to work they won’t be able to afford high BI limits. Not sure if governor really cares about the poor but the hospitals he must. Hopefully he has a heart. I am trusting he does and veto this bill

    • Brian

      June 1, 2021 at 8:10 pm

      You are obviously severely misinformed.

  • Edward Lyle

    June 1, 2021 at 6:08 pm

    Governor DeSantis will not VETO common sense legislation… period. First of all, there is no such thing as a “transgender” person. It’s a made up term designed to ease the guilt and emotional distress experienced by those individuals who suffer from the science-supported and psychology-based mental disorder known as Gender Dysphoria. Such individuals should never be harmed, targeted, or discriminated against due to their disorder… but neither should they – or anyone else – be forced to pretend it is normal or be indoctrinated to believe it is. It is antithetical to nature and the natural order of life itself. That being said, there is a way to put an end to this transwhatever sports dilemma, and it it this…

    Simply demand that the Congress pass a law that requires the dissolution of all professional female sports entities. From the WNBA, to the NWSL, to the LPGA, and all female designated Olympic Sports teams, et al… In addition, require by that same law that all professional male sports entities such as the NBA, NSL, PGA, NTA, and all male designated Olympic Sports teams, eta l… assimilate those female sports professionals into their entities and onto their teams – and – guarantee them equal playing time and pay. Force these alt-left NaziCrat lunatics to support such an action, or defend their opposition to such an action. I wonder what the NBA clowns and their CCP comrades would say about that… what say you LaWhine Blames?

    … problem solved and transwhatever sports nonsense stopped in its tracks.

  • artwork

    June 2, 2021 at 1:11 pm

    PIP is broken. Full of Fraud and attorneys and medical people and fraud rings who game the system, driving up premiums. But, if we’re going to eliminate PIP, we need mandatory Bodily injury liability coverage of at least 50K, and stiffer penalties for those who drive uninsured. (Probably not much of a cost-savings measure in the long run.) Right now, you can get Florida tags with just 10K PIP and 10K Property damage liability. Bodily injury liability is not required to get your tags. That’s a joke. And, usually, the worst accidents involve people who are uninsured or underinsured.

Comments are closed.


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