At Session’s starting gun, Paul Renner lays out agenda on vouchers, Enterprise Florida
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 2/9/23-House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, during Session, Thursday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

'Enterprise Florida has overpromised and underdelivered for years and drains funds from higher priorities.'

House Speaker Paul Renner kicked off the 2023 Regular Session by outlining an expansive agenda, while indicating he also supports the priorities of Gov. Ron DeSantis and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo.

The agenda of DeSantis — widely presumed to be readying a bid for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination — is driving much of the action in the Capitol. Renner said he backs DeSantis’ plans to eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) protocols and programs from universities; ban social considerations in state and local investments; and support law enforcement.

Renner, a Palm Coast Republican, also said he’ll back Passidomo’s plans to spur more affordable housing projects and expand access to the Florida Wildlife Corridor. He also laid out a series of plans to massively expand school choice, eliminate the state’s main economic development agency and ease the transition from welfare programs into the workforce.

“No family should ever have to choose between a pay raise and their children’s health care, so we will make it easier for moms and dads to move from welfare to work and on the way to their American Dream,” Renner said.

Renner is also pushing a major school choice bill that would expand Florida’s voucher program, which is currently limited by income, to all students in the state. The proposal (HB 1) has been decried by most Democrats as detrimental to public schools, but DeSantis and Passidomo have supported the plan.

Monday’s speech, though, was the first indication Renner plans to resurrect a fight he previously led to eliminate Enterprise Florida, a public/private group that seeks to lure companies to move or expand in Florida as a way to diversify the state’s economy. Renner previously led the push in 2017 under then-House Speaker Richard Corcoran, but then-Gov. Rick Scott defended the agency as necessary to increase jobs in the state.

A bill filed Monday (HB 5) would eliminate the agency.

“We will zealously guard taxpayers’ money, ensuring it’s not spent on programs or agencies that have outlived their usefulness,” Renner said. “Enterprise Florida has overpromised and underdelivered for years and drains funds from higher priorities. If this were Washington, D.C., it would live on forever, unchanged and unchallenged; but the Florida way requires us to retain only what works and eliminate what does not.”

One measure Renner isn’t supporting is a bill (SB 1316) filed by Sen. Jason Brodeur, a Sanford Republican, that would require bloggers writing about the Legislature or executive branch for compensation to register with the state.

“That’d be something I categorically oppose,” Renner said. “I don’t think that belongs anywhere near passing either the House or Senate.”

But Renner is backing Brodeur’s bill (SB 1220) to lower the standard for libel, an attempt to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan in 1964.

The 60-day Regular Session is slated to end May 5.

Gray Rohrer


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