- DeSantis is quickly signing bills into law in Florida this legislative session, which ends May 5.
- The GOP-controlled legislature has been deferential to him after his thumping gubernatorial win.
- After the legislation session, DeSantis is expected to mount a presidential run, challenging Trump.
Florida lawmakers are racing through their session, sending bills to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that will give him a list of accomplishments to brag about during a widely anticipated 2024 presidential run.
Lawmakers began meeting for their 60-day session just three weeks ago, and already the governor has signed bills into law amid much fanfare at public events.
DeSantis has called his agenda the “Freedom Blueprint,” and Republicans, who control a supermajority of the legislature, have widely been deferential to his plans. DeSantis’ notoriety has risen nationally, and the GOP sees itself as having a mandate after DeSantis won reelection by nearly 20 points in November.
“I have never seen a time where we have gone at this pace,” Florida Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book told reporters in Tallahassee on Wednesday. “I think we all know what’s motivating that: The governor has a tremendous amount of ambition. It’s his roadshow and our colleagues are tripping over themselves to help him achieve his agenda.”
“I hope he makes a decision and gets out of the way,” state Sen. Jason Pizzo of Miami added, referring to DeSantis making a presidential run official. The governor isn’t expected to do so until the end of May or even June.
A book tour punctuated by signing bills into law
Until then, DeSantis is on a book tour all over the US but also using his executive pen back in Florida. Last week DeSantis signed a bill to curb lawsuits in the state.
On Monday, he signed a bill into law that would provide vouchers to families who want to send their children to private or charter schools, regardless of income. On Wednesday, he signed a bill into law to increase the housing supply amid rising prices, though the legislation prohibits localities from instituting rent control.
DeSantis also called lawmakers back to the Capitol in February to check off a major aspect of his to-do list: taking away Disney World’s special district.
“I just said to him, ‘You’re on a roll, aren’t you?” Senate President Kathleen Passidomo said of DeSantis at a press conference on Wednesday.
More legislation headed for DeSantis’ desk
Other measures are expected to hit DeSantis’ desk soon, including legislation that would make it harder for undocumented people to work and go to school in Florida, a ban on abortion after six weeks into a pregnancy, and restrictions on school instruction about gender identity and sexual orientation until eighth grade. DeSantis has also pushed for numerous tax breaks, particularly on diapers, strollers, and other needed items for new families.
“In Florida, we don’t wait around to fix problems, we fix them immediately,” House Speaker Paul Renner said at the Naples press conference.
Florida Republicans have acknowledged that a national audience is watching their state. The new bills have generated numerous national headlines, giving DeSantis the profile of a presidential candidate without forcing him to officially declare. Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump has been attacking DeSantis over his record, looks, and personality as he gears up to run.
Democrats have been powerless to put the breaks on Florida’s lawmaking session. Book said that typically governors should wait a couple of weeks before signing bills into law so that outside stakeholders could weigh in. The signings, she said, were occurring in “exponentially speedy ways.”
She singled out legislation that would allow Floridians to carry a firearm without a permit, saying that gun safety measures could be added to the bill after lawmakers take time to evaluate the response to the school shooting in Tennessee this week.
“We should allow things to percolate and come together to create good public policy,” she said. “We don’t see that anymore.”
This is a breaking news story that will be updated.