RTFB: Legislative leaders tell critics to read controversial bills as Sine Die approaches
House Speaker Chris Sprowls joined by Senate President Wilton Simpson at the close of the 2021 Legislative Session. Image via Colin Hackley.

'The reason that we are so concerned about literacy is clearly they have not read these bills yet.'

As the Session comes to a close, House and Senate leaders are defending their decision to pass several high-profile bills that have elicited criticism that Republicans are harming minority populations leading up to the 2022 election campaign.

When state lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis are on the ballot in November, they will be able to tout new laws on abortion (HB 5), immigration (SB 1808), LGBTQ discussion in classrooms (HB 1557) and woke instruction (HB 7). With major business for the 2022 Session all but behind them, Senate President Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Christ Sprowls say their detractors should read what the bills are mandating.

“I think there’s been a lot of hype made on several bills that have been done this year,” Simpson told reporters Friday. “I think if people would read those bills rather than getting caught up in the emotion of those bills, then most people would agree that we’ve done the right thing.”

Over the past 60 days, lawmakers have passed bills banning most abortions after 15 weeks, cracking down on immigration, and restricting topics of discussion in classrooms and corporate training. With national media latching onto storylines out of Florida, including the “Don’t Say Gay” moniker critics developed for a bill passed last week to limit lessons about sexual orientation in schools, Republicans have repeatedly said the media is riling up the public, who haven’t read the bills.

“The reason that we are so concerned about literacy is clearly they have not read these bills yet,” Simpson said.

Speaking on Thursday, Sprowls told reporters that the media and critical lawmakers, who in theory have read the bills, are using the same talking points found on Twitter.

“People are working. They’re trying to put their kids through school. We can’t expect them to see an article on Twitter on the Tampa Bay Times and go to the MyFloridaHouse.gov website and pull up the bill and read it for themselves,” Sprowls said. “They’re counting on you all to tell them what’s in the bill.”

The parental rights in education legislation would prevent discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity between kindergarten and third grade. Additionally, it would limit instruction about those topics in later grade levels to age-appropriate discussions.

Another bill would prohibit lessons and training which tell students and employees that they are inherently racist, sexist or oppressive because of their race, color, sex or national origin. It would also ban instruction that they are personally responsible and should feel guilty for the past actions of members of their race, color, sex or national origin.

Proponents say everyone should be able to get behind those measures. However, critics say it’s not the plain language of the bills that upsets them.

“I can’t not make it personal,” said Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an openly gay Orlando Democrat, as he debated the parental rights legislation. “This bill goes way beyond the text on the page. It sends a terrible message to our youth, that there is something so wrong, so inappropriate, so dangerous about this topic that we have to censor it from classroom instruction.”

As the Legislature successfully passed those bills and more than 200 bipartisan or less contentious measures, some proposals fell through, like bills on consumer data privacy and property insurance. Lawmakers’ job shouldn’t be judged on the proposals that failed, Simpson told reporters.

Like DeSantis, Simpson highlighted Florida as a national leader that has grown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re a destination now for student education in the K-12 system,” Simpson said. “People are moving to Florida because of the laws that we have passed here giving parents choice. And so when you think about the things that we are, it certainly drowns out the things that we are not.”

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at r[email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • Florida slow

    March 11, 2022 at 10:31 pm

    Maybe if you weren’t so focused on stopping gays You could learn to read😀

  • Stonewall hits

    March 12, 2022 at 2:46 am

    I did
    And guess what? From the text is still shows Republicans hate gays .

    And they should hate them back with even greater ferocity lol

    • Antonio

      March 13, 2022 at 5:40 pm

      LOL….Really? Which sub-section is that? Can you show us?

      Of course you can’t, because it’s not there. You weirdos are just making crap up to rage and hate on command. It’s pathetic and normal people can see through it.

      • Just a fact

        March 14, 2022 at 4:44 pm

        “Normal people”

        Whats normal about Florida republicans? The ability to keep a marriage past 3 years?

        Y’all just scared your kids gonna be gay. Even though let’s face it. He already hates you. Lol

  • tom palmer

    March 12, 2022 at 9:21 am

    What the hell does RTFB mean?

    • TJC

      March 12, 2022 at 11:41 am

      I believe it stands for “read the full bill” in this case, although it could in other instances include a different f-word.
      In any case, I think these Republican legislators who are so proud of their bills should go on television and read their handiwork out loud to us, story time-style. Like Grimms’ fairy tales, the creepiness of their bills would come slithering through even the most motherly tones of their tongues.

      • tom palmer

        March 12, 2022 at 5:23 pm

        thanks. the problem with bills is in the rule-making that sometimes follows involves language that fewer people get to read.

  • Don’t Look Up

    March 13, 2022 at 5:55 am

    ‘I want each student to stand in front of the classroom and tell us how you spent your summer vacation!”
    ‘Hi classmates …. I went to New Hampshire with my two daddies. After New Hampshire we went to Boston to the children’s museum’

    Two days later at dinner:
    ‘Mom …. Did you know Patty has two daddy’s?’

    Mom: “I’m going to do what most Florida grifters do….. I’m going to sue the school department that allowed such a discussion to occur!”

  • Amelia

    March 13, 2022 at 2:11 pm

    Cash making job for evey american to earn and work online. earns more than $15k every month with this home based job. i made $18521 from this job in my spare time afte my college. easy to do job and its regular income are awesome. no skills needed to do this job all you need to know is how to copy and paste stuff online.

    join this today by follow details on this page… 𝘞­­𝘸­­𝘸.𝘓­­𝘪­­𝘷­­𝘦­­𝘑­­𝘰­­𝘣­­2­­4­­7.𝘊­­𝘰­­𝘮

  • Robert Hogner

    March 14, 2022 at 9:15 am

    Both Ron DeSantis’ office the the “anti-WOKE” bills sponsor were clear in commenting about the intent of the intent of the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. Their reason? To stop the “grooming” of new generations of LGBTG children.” This despitre no supportive evidence this has happened and overwhelming science to the contrary.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn