Kathleen Passidomo says Legislature had ‘cojones’ to pass controversial bills this year
Kathleen Passidomo. Image via TaxWatch

Passidomo 1
'I can't recall a Session where we’ve had virtual 100% agreement, amongst the two branches and with the executive branch.'

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo called the 2023 Legislative Session a success because of the legislative and executive branches being in lockstep.

“Some of it was controversial,” she said. “But when you think about it, a lot of the things we did this Session were things that people were thinking about, but because of political correctness, didn’t have the capacity — or the cojones for that matter — to do it.”

The Naples Republican gave her assessment at an Orlando meeting of Florida TaxWatch. She joked it was in her best interest to make a surprise visit and speak to the group.

“There is a budget coming out in a couple days, and I don’t want any of my projects to be called turkeys,” she said.

She referenced the organization’s notorious “budget turkey” list of projects the group recommends the Governor veto. While no lawmaker proclaims their own priorities worthy of such a mark, Passidomo feels especially emphatic about her own priorities this go-around. Representing a region devastated by Hurricane Ian, she pushed for some $4 billion in resilience and relief spending.

She told Florida Politics she understands Gov. Ron DeSantis inevitably will find spending to veto in the budget.

“I agree with his philosophy, which is, ‘Does the project have statewide significance? Is it more than just parochial?’” Passidomo said. “Because he’s the Governor in the entire state. I understand that and I accept that.”

She strongly believes funding to help recover from storms deserves to stay in the budget. Hurricane Ian was a personally impactful event for the Senate President. Her own home was destroyed by flooding and she could only move back in mid-Session.

She acknowledged that amid the push to prepare for the next storm, many localities took the opportunity to request funding for emergency operations.

“What I would look at is, where do you need emergency operation centers and how many do you need?” she said. “Do you need one in every city? Do you need one big one in a county? So that’s not my call, and I assume the Governor is looking at it holistically.”

She told TaxWatch attendees about some projects that took heavy legislative lifting this year that she believes will have generational impact. In particular, Passidomo touted mass investment in the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

“Fifty years from now, our great-grandkids will say the best thing we did in the 2020s was the Wildlife Corridor,” she said. “It will be our Central Park because it will preserve and protect the center of our state forever.”

She said negotiations during this year went smoothly in large part because of cooperation between her office and that of House Speaker Paul Renner. She also praised Gov. DeSantis as a leader of principle. Notably, Passidomo and Renner just endorsed DeSantis for President in 2024.

Talks also went fairly well on policy matters. She spoke of how items like permitless carry weren’t major priorities to her, but she supported legislation so long as it contained strong school safety investment. She spoke at length about that included training for ammunition-sniffing police dogs.

“These criminals, the shooters, are not afraid of people; they are of the dogs,” Passidomo said. “So that’s a hidden gem.”

But with GOP supermajorities in the House and Senate, and a Republican Governor awaiting bills to sign, policy battles simply moved quickly this year, she said.

“I can’t recall a Session where we’ve had virtual 100% agreement, amongst the two branches and with the executive branch,” she said.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Dont Say FLA

    May 18, 2023 at 6:14 pm

    Not to worry, Ms Passidomo. This year there’s just one turkey, and it’s Rhonda himself.

  • Michael K

    May 18, 2023 at 9:20 pm

    Never mistake balls with brains. “Never back down” is idiotic. That’s why we’re in the mess we’re in.

  • Dan

    May 19, 2023 at 12:05 am

    Florida Republicans united behind their hatreds, bigotry and cruelty.

  • Richard Lawrence

    May 19, 2023 at 9:53 am

    The governor told you what to do and you did it. That’s cojones? I think not.

    • MH/Duuuval

      May 19, 2023 at 3:47 pm

      Seinfeld would call this an example of “shrinkage.”

  • KP

    May 19, 2023 at 2:09 pm

    Respectfully, “Fifty years from now, our great-grandkids will say the best thing we did in the 2020s was” to leave office. Because what you accomplished this session was to undermine Florida’s University and public school systems, attack, demean, and create risks for children of color and alternative sexual orientation, and enable a political bully who weaponized government to attack his opposition. It doesnt take cajones to victimize and further marginalize already marginalized people. I have respected your family for years, but what you allowed in 2023 is wrong. You are smarter and better than this.

  • Tom Palmer

    May 19, 2023 at 5:56 pm

    It does not take courage to be supine.

Comments are closed.


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