Don't expect much in the way of real solutions to Florida's most pressing problems when the Legislature convenes this week. Instead, according to a front page story in the Tampa Bay Times, we learn that the GOP controlled body will focus on a range of emotionally charged cultural issues that DeSantis has been touting in his most recent news conferences, speeches and sessions with legislative leaders -- all of which are designed to play to a national audience as he ramps up his campaign for the presidency in 2024.
There's a housing crisis in Florida? What housing crisis? There is currently no legislation drafted to deal with the state's shortage of housing, especially for renters. DeSantis has proposed putting more money into existing affordable housing programs that help homeowners more than tenants, but people on the lower end of economic spectrum can expect little help from Republicans who serve their well-off constituents.
The governor’s wish list and legislative priorities read like a Trumpian nightmare. If DeSantis has his way, we will have a costly new office to police elections, his own private “state guard” that will help maintain order and quell civil unrest, and money to move “unauthorized aliens” out of the state.
Parents will have the ability to sue school districts for teaching “critical race theory,” or what he believes is any examination of racial discrimination in American history, and employees can sue employers for engaging in “diversity training.” Instead, schools will be required to teach about “the evils of communism and totalitarian ideologies.” Ironically, it is assumed that these “totalitarian ideologies” will NOT include those of the governor and his legislative cronies who are working tirelessly to end local control and take over the state completely.
Even some members of his own party call DeSantis’ moves what they are. State Senator Jeff Brandes (R – St. Petersburg) said, “I fully expect this to be a red meat year, where a vast majority of the governor’s priorities are focused on securing the base – not the state base, but the national base.”
Lucinda Johnston, Chair of the Pinellas Democratic Party, said, “DeSantis’ agenda, which we can expect to be supported by the Republican controlled legislature, is a slap in the face to Floridians. While he builds his campaign for the White House, people in our state are suffering from real crises. The solution is to stop his assault on Florida and end his presidential bid right now, in 2022. We have the power to do that by electing a Democratic governor in November and changing the balance in the legislature. We don’t need any more evidence that the GOP doesn’t care much about Floridians without deep pockets, so it’s time for some big changes in Tallahassee.”
Read the entire Tampa Bay Times article, “Lawmakers Gear Up for Cultural Warfare,” here.