House Speaker Paul Renner touted a series of bills aimed at increasing penalties for violent offenses, part of a push by legislators, prodded by Gov. Ron DeSantis, to crack down on crime.
“If you commit a serious crime, you’re going to face the consequences of your actions,” said Renner, a Palm Coast Republican.
“While diversion and rehabilitation are important to providing individuals who come in contact with the justice system an opportunity to correct their behavior, people must be held accountable, and we must ensure our first responders have the tools they need to do their jobs professionally and effectively. The Florida House prioritizes public safety and keeping our communities safe.”
Most of the bills are in line with DeSantis’ proposal, released in January, which called on the Legislature to lower the threshold for the death penalty from a unanimous jury to eight out of 12 jurors; allow those who commit sexual battery on a minor younger than 12 to be eligible for the death penalty; limit bail for violent offenders and limit “gain time” for sexual and attempted sexual offenses.
Rep. Sam Garrison, a Fleming Island Republican in line to be House Speaker in the 2026-2028 term, is sponsoring two of the bills.
The first (HB 1465) would require juveniles charged with an offense involving a firearm to be held until their first detention hearing, increase the ranking of a theft of a firearm from a Level 4 offense to a Level 6 offense and make a second conviction for the theft of a firearm a second degree felony.
The second (HB 1627) would require the Florida Supreme Court to set up a statewide bond schedule and add the crimes of DUI manslaughter, fentanyl trafficking, written threats to kill and extortion to the list of crimes eligible for pretrial detention. Both bills are set to receive a vote on the House floor later this week.
“What we’re saying here in Florida is you will see a judge. A judge will put eyeballs on you,” Garrison said. “We’re not going to let administrative orders or algorithms determine who is released from custody. It’s going to be a human being, flesh-and-blood judge elected by the people to serve as their representative, looking at individuals charged with serious crimes.”
Other bills include HB 1297, which would make the crime of sexual battery on a child under 12 eligible for the death penalty; HB 555, which would lower the threshold for the death penalty from a unanimous jury to eight out of 12 jurors; and HB 537, which would ban those convicted of sexual battery or attempted sexual battery from earning “gain time” that would reduce their overall prison sentence.
All of the bills are set for a vote on the floor later this week.