Gov. Ron DeSantis’ fellow Republicans in charge of the Legislature are poised to send him most of his top priorities this week, the last week of the regularly scheduled Legislative Session. But they’re also bracing to defy him in other key areas, potentially incurring the wrath of his veto pen.
DeSantis-backed bills to ban critical race theory in schools, establish an election fraud police squad, prohibit companies helping the federal government to transport undocumented immigrants to Florida from doing business with the state, roll back high-stakes testing requirements in pre-K-12 schools, and hike pay for state law enforcement officials are on track to clear the Legislature before lawmakers adjourn Friday.
Yet other pieces of his agenda are flailing in the final days. A much-vaunted five-month moratorium on Florida’s 25-cent gas tax, something DeSantis said was needed to put a dent in rampant inflation, hasn’t been discussed by lawmakers. Money for the Job Growth Grant Fund, a key program for DeSantis that allows him to issue funds to local governments and state colleges for infrastructure and job training projects, is not included in the latest budget talks.
The biggest confrontation between lawmakers and DeSantis, though, is over redistricting. DeSantis said he would veto the congressional redistricting plan the Legislature sent him last week.
“I will veto the congressional reapportionment plan currently being debated by the House. DOA,” DeSantis posted on Twitter Friday, as the House was discussing the plan.
The day before DeSantis issued his veto threat, Senate President Wilton Simpson, a Trilby Republican, suggested he focus on the things lawmakers were passing, not what might not get through.
“He’s clearly been our Governor for three years. He’s had wins. The big winner of these bills that we’re doing is the state of Florida, and collectively what the House and Senate will produce are substantial wins for this state,” Simpson said. “To single into any one particular thing as a failure is taking the wrong approach.”
DeSantis has been more vocal this year about pushing his agenda than in years past. When the Senate unveiled a budget bill that would divert funding for the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir, an infrastructure project in South Florida vital to preventing polluted water from being pumped into estuaries on either side of Lake Okeechobee, DeSantis slammed the proposal, a Simpson priority.
The Senate adjusted the bill to ensure the reservoir’s funding, but it wasn’t enough for critics of the bill who fear it favors the sugar industry in the management of water at the expense of the general public, and puts South Florida waterways in jeopardy of a repeat of the blue-green algae that polluted waterways in the previous decade. It’s unclear whether the change was enough to gain the governor’s support.
After DeSantis’ veto threat on redistricting, House and Senate budget negotiators have been including many of his recommendations that had been ignored in their initial spending plans.
Sunday night, lawmakers inserted $10 million for DeSantis’ plan to reactivate the Florida State Guard, a defunct World War II-era force that would supplement the Florida National Guard, into the latest budget offers. DeSantis’ plan had been ignored by lawmakers during the first 54 days of the 60-day Session.
March 7, 2022 at 4:22 pm
Someone tell big suga Simpson to get his tail straight in the gas moratorium. Prices are skyrocketing. Tighten the times, figure it out. How about 90 days. My gosh Wilton, don’t you thing the working peeps could use a break? The state has $15 million fund, big suga Simpson. Geez. Peoples defeat Simpson if no gas moratorium.
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