As Tallahassee wraps up this year’s session in the Florida Legislature, there is much to be discussed about what’s happened, and what it means for the future of the state. This week on WaveMakers, hosts Janet and Tom Scherberger were joined by Peter Schorsch, CEO of Extensive Enterprise and publisher of FloridaPolitics.com.
Listen to the full podcast episode here:
As the legislature makes its final decisions this week, Schorsch shared his top five takeaways from this session:
- It appears that Governor Ron DeSantis will get almost everything he wants to be passed into law. The controversial stances, the headliner bills, and even a great many bills that flew under the radar all seem like they will pass through the Florida Legislature. Schorsch says that many people are reporting on the bills themselves, but aren’t reporting on DeSantis’s force to get all of the legislation through. Schorsch believes about 80% of what DeSantis was fighting for will be passed.
- Schorsch paid special note to Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson, saying that he will “go out as probably the most consequential legislative leader of the last decade.” Simpson gave a farewell address yesterday, but his reputation will have a legacy in the system, with his name attached to many high-dollar projects that have passed through the legislature
- Social issues have been a hot topic of debate throughout this legislative session. From the fight against ‘wokeness’ to the 15-week abortion ban to the recently passed ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, the social issues being discussed in the legislature can have major consequences. Schorsch himself does work behind the scenes to try to influence legislation, talking primarily to Republican legislators and friends about the decisions they’re making. But overall, Schorsch says, the thing to keep in mind is this: elections have consequences. The people elected into power have the authority to make decisions that can affect our lives. If the people in power and the bills being passed go against what the population wants, then it is the population’s civic duty to vote and change those tides. However, Schorsch does categorize many of these controversial bills as a part of a “performative package”. These bills, he says, are all meant to make Gov. DeSantis look good for the Republican base. Retaining support is imperative for him, especially as he looks toward a presidential campaign bid,
- Money is another big topic in the legislature this session, though it hasn’t been as contentious a fight this time around. With over $3.5 billion to be allocated at the state level, there is a lot of money to go around. Much of it came from pandemic relief funds from Washington, though it can be allocated to any number of projects and places.
- Florida is in the midst of redistricting, a process that happens every 10 years. The state is gaining a Congressional state. It’s the one big area, though, where DeSantis is not getting his way. DeSantis has been fighting the drawing of a district that would favor an African-American candidate. Schorsch says he doesn’t believe this is a sign of DeSantis being a racist, but it he says he thinks DeSantis takes anti-Black stances as a political strategy. But as WaveMakers co-host Tom Scherberger said, it doesn’t take a racist to perpetuate a racist agenda.