Justin Hill: Ron DeSantis should follow through on promise to keep Florida open for business
April is a big travel month for Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis israel AP (Large)
He is forgetting why he was popular in the first place.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Florida Miracle is in jeopardy.

The worst part? He is the one undermining his own successes by pushing a bill that allows big government to bully private businesses that employ thousands of Floridians.

I was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives for four terms. Throughout my time in the Legislature, I fought to protect the freedoms of my constituents, to push back against big government overreach, and to make Missouri a state that people want to move to and do business in. During the COVID lockdown years, I followed DeSantis’ lead and fought to keep businesses open for people working in my county, which was located on the doorstep of liberal-run Saint Louis.

The Florida Miracle, led by DeSantis in the face of weathering criticism from the left, was one of the few true instances of political bravery in modern American life. Motivated by his leadership, I walked away from my own promising career in Missouri and moved my family to Florida.

At the time, DeSantis rightly understood that COVID lockdowns represented an existential threat to American freedom. With the stroke of a pen, Governors in states like California, New York and Michigan stripped away everyday peoples’ ability to earn a living, go to school or come together in prayer.

At the same time, the federal government worked to ensure Americans didn’t step out of line.

Entities like the Department of Justice, FBI and Anthony Fauci’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention placed inappropriate pressure on private social media platforms to remove American speech that dared stray from the status quo.

Now that DeSantis’ star has risen, and he is consistently considered a 2024 presidential front-runner, the Governor may adopt the same progressive tactics that he once fought so hard against.

Even worse, it’s branded the “Digital Bill of Rights.” The name leads Floridians to believe this policy initiative would protect people from an over-intrusive government as the original Bill of Rights did after the founding of our republic. Instead, it does the opposite.

Under the guise of giving Floridians more choice, the legislation would be one of the largest state government interventions in the free market in recent history.

The bill is a backdoor attempt to outlaw common advertising practices for specific businesses the government has in its crosshairs. And the so-called privacy provisions of the bill also only apply to a handful of companies.

If the bill becomes law, Floridians will be less informed than their counterparts across the country, and their data will be protected in name only.

Aside from the economic damages, it also means that political and religious groups across the state will have a harder time organizing and fundraising.

Think about it. If you are a Christian charity trying to raise money for a pro-life cause, doesn’t it make the most sense to reach out to like-minded people to do it?

Taking away an organization’s ability to advertise their mission effectively to their followers is no different from shutting them down.

This raises the question: Why is DeSantis working so hard to undermine his own legacy?

I get that filing and pushing certain bills might do well for national headlines, but Floridians want more of what he delivered the last two years, not political maneuvering for higher office.

The Governor is making a classic political mistake. He is forgetting why he was popular in the first place.

It wasn’t because of Big Government policies, and it wasn’t for winning headlines. The DeSantis that earned my respect embraced the necessity of a limited government approach and had the humility necessary to empower Floridians to choose how to live their own lives.

Returning to those principles is how he’ll keep my respect and the millions of Americans who want to support him.


Justin Hill is a former Missouri State Representative and Public Sector Chair of the American Legislative Exchange Council. He and his family reside in Sarasota.

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One comment

  • Lynda

    March 30, 2023 at 2:58 pm

    The conflict between a good Public Health response to a global pandemic and businesses that would rather watch customers and their families die than close down to prevent the spread of a devastating virus isn’t going to go away as COVID mutates. People on the right still say that the same responses which prevented Tuberculosis, Small Pox, Polio and Influenza from taking more victims, denied people the freedom to die from COVID and gave them freedom to spread the lethal virus to any person with whom they came in contact. Governors such as Walz who followed the Public Health responses of America’s scientific community are routinely scorned for doing their duty to protect their states’ residents. Governors like deSantis are cheered by the right for giving up early on following the advice of actual doctors when these governors seized the political opportunity to be a hero for their residents by allowing more of them and their vulnerable family members to die.

    Good parents feed their children a balanced diet including fruits, vegetables and good portions of proteins. If children want to live on candy, ice cream and cookies, these parents encourage healthier choices. Those right-wing pundits without medical education fed their voters all the ice cream, cookies and candy they wanted while encouraging them to risk COVID by refusing vaccines, not wearing masks and not limiting their contact with people outside their own household. Freedom is not choosing to ignore Public Health responses intended to keep people safe from deadly diseases.

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