by Andrew Powell
Florida’s Legislature will be serving up a smorgasbord of issues during the upcoming 60-day regular session that begins on Tuesday.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has said many times that Florida is the place where “woke goes to die” and passage of laws to stop it tops the agenda for the Republican supermajority in 2023.
With the support of Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, and House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, DeSantis announced a law proposal that will ban state and local governments from making financial and investment decisions based on “socially responsible” investing practices.
Environmental, social and corporate governance is a threat to the American economy, according to DeSantis. The legislation prohibits big banks, trusts and other financial institutions from using ESG considerations and prohibits discriminating against customers for their social, religious or political beliefs.
The use of so-called social credit scores will also be prohibited and banks will be prohibited from engaging in corporate activism.
Colleges and universities are also having funding cut if they engage in “woke” ideology practices within their faculties. Diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at state institutions, will be defunded under House Bill 999.
Further, faculty members can be reviewed based on their performance at any time, and certain majors which focus on race and gender, will be eliminated from college and university course selections.
School vouchers will also be a top priority for the Legislature, and HB 1 will make all Florida students eligible for education savings accounts. The accounts can be used for private tuition or homeschooling resources. Those who oppose the bill are concerned that money will be stripped from the public school system.
In a statement to The Center Square, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who first launched efforts to expand school choice almost three decades ago, said that every child has a right to an education, despite their background or circumstances.
“Florida stands on the monumental verge of restoring the original intent of publicly funding education —by funding individual students — so each child can reach their God-given potential,” Bush said. “HB 1 is a forward thinking and important move toward ensuring Florida remains the nation’s leader in student-centered solutions.
“I applaud Speaker Renner and the Florida House for their vision and leadership in creating this unmatched opportunity for Florida students and families.”
In late 2022, Speaker Renner announced that Florida will soon become a “constitutional carry” state, meaning Floridians will no longer be required to go through training on firearm handling, nor will they require a permit to have one.
Supporters argue that there should be as little government interference with a person’s Second Amendment rights as possible and the Legislature and Gov. DeSantis agree.
Tax cuts and tax holidays are a huge part of 2023, after DeSantis announced his “Framework for Freedom” budget, which gives back $1.5 billion to Florida taxpayers through toll reliefs and sales tax relief, some permanent, on everyday items, including baby diapers, clothing, equipment and baby food.
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Andrew Powell is a contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Paul Renner” by Florida House GOP. Photo “Kathleen Passidomo” by Kathleen Passidomo. Photo “Ron DeSantis” by Governor Ron DeSantis. Background Photo “Classroom” by Ivan Aleksic.