TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — The 2022 Florida legislative session begins Tuesday in Tallahassee, and Gov. Ron DeSantis laid out some of his top priorities just as the session gets underway.
In an interview with Fox News’ Mark Levin, Gov. DeSantis said he wants to give parents the power to “inspect” their children’s school curriculum, and bring legal action if teachers stray from it.
“There’s a problem when you can say you can’t do it, but what if they defy you? What if they’re doing it?” DeSantis asked rhetorically when discussing teachers who teach topics that are not authorized. “And it’s not just critical race theory, a lot of other inappropriate content can be smuggled in by public schools.”
“So what we’re going to be doing in this upcoming legislative session, we’re gonna give parents the ability to go in and get legal relief if they’re not following our state standards with respect to history and government,” DeSantis said. “And I think empowering parents to be involved, making sure parents have a right to inspect the curriculum.”
The governor also said he wants the legislature to fund bus rides to relocate undocumented immigrants brought to Florida by the federal government.
“We have money, I’ll pay for buses to send [undocumented immigrants] to Delaware or some of these other places, and then they’ll know that Florida’s not a good place to do that,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis also said he wants “restitution” from the companies that help transport the immigrants.
“We’re also gonna say to these companies you can’t do business with the state of Florida or any local community if you’re facilitating what’s effectively a massive human smuggling operation. That’s what Biden’s doing.”
For state lawmakers, this was expected to be a session focused on redistricting.
The once-in-a-decade reshuffling of the state’s political maps will include an additional congressional seat due to the increase in population in last year’s census, bringing Florida’s delegation to 28 U.S. representatives.
That district will likely go somewhere between Tampa and Orlando, Matt Florell of MCI Maps said.
“The [Tampa Bay] region is being rewarded for that growth,” Florell said. “That area is going to see additional state house seats and Senate seats.”
Lawmakers have already filed all the bills that can be heard in this session.
A bill similar to the new law in Texas has already been filed, which would ban abortions after cardiac activity is detected in the embryo, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.
However, both the current and incoming senate presidents oppose the Texas law’s provision empowering citizens to bring lawsuits against each other, and the right to privacy enshrined in Florida’s constitution could be an obstacle.
“Certainly that’s not something I would support, neighbor telling on neighbor or calling in, things of that nature,” Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Spring Hill) said. “We have privacy in this state for a reason.”
Schools could see more safety laws in this session — there are bills filed to put cameras in school zones and on the stop arms of buses to prevent people from passing them.
There are growing calls from people all over the state for lawmakers to address property and auto insurance, which have skyrocketed in cost and are draining Floridians’ wallets.
Citizens Insurance, the state’s homeowner’s insurance company of last resort, just requested an 11 percent rate hike this year. Citizens CEO Barry Gilway told the company’s board that the increase would still keep the company’s rates competitive with private insurers.
“What we’re really saying is, 97 percent of our competitors don’t come within 15 percent of us,” Gilway said.
In the past, lawmakers have been hesitant to legislate insurance solutions, at least in part because it’s an industry that donates heavily to politicians and therefore has a lot of sway.
The only thing that must get done this session — by law — is passing the state budget.
Nearly 100 billion dollars, this year’s budget won’t include as much help from the federal government, which could leave some lawmakers’ priorities cut out.
The session is scheduled to last 60 days, which would last until March 11.
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