Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has spent the months leading up to his presidential announcement signing legislation that’s made national headlines — and hasn’t always garnered a favorable reaction among his political rivals and fellow Republicans.
The GOP-controlled Legislature has handed DeSantis many legislative victories in what has helped the governor create his political agenda. He has pushed Florida lawmakers to restrict gender-affirming care for minors and permanently ban pandemic-related mandates.
Here are some recent contentious bills that DeSantis has signed:
Florida’s six-week abortion ban
In April, DeSantis signed into law a ban on abortions after six weeks. The six-week ban will only take effect only if the state’s current 15-week ban is upheld before the state Supreme Court.
The ban allows for exceptions for victims of rape and incest if they provide evidence such as a police report. Some Republicans have deemed the six-week ban as too strict, including GOP South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace, who questioned whether rape victims will have the foresight to save evidence or file reports with authorities.
“Protecting an unborn child when there’s a detectable heartbeat is something that almost probably 99 percent of pro-lifers support,” DeSantis said at a bill signing press conference this month. “It’s something that other states like Iowa under Gov. Kim Reynolds have enacted.”
Former President Donald Trump, who is Desantis’ chief rival for the GOP nomination, said in an interview with digital news startup The Messenger, “if you look at what DeSantis did, a lot of people don’t even know if he knew what he was doing. But he signed six weeks, and many people within the pro-life movement feel that that was too harsh.”
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) danced around the idea on NBC’s “Meet The Press” when asked if he would sign the bill if he were governor. Donalds has openly said he’d be interested in running for governor of Florida.
“Honestly, that’s something where you have to deal with your legislature on that,” Donalds said Sunday.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, in a statement, called the ban “extreme and dangerous” and said the administration “will continue to fight to protect access to abortion and defend reproductive rights.”
Ban on gender-affirming care for minors and expanding ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law
Earlier this month, DeSantis signed into law a bill that bans gender-affirming medical care such as puberty blockers or hormone therapy for transgender youth. The governor also signed into law expansions to the state’s parental rights rules, panned by critics as “Don’t Say Gay.”
A group of parents of transgender children immediately challenged the gender-affirming care law, filing an emergency request in federal court to block its implementation.
The governor also signed expansions to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill to include outlawing school employees from asking students for their preferred pronouns and restricting school staff from sharing their pronouns with students if they “do not correspond” with their sex.
At a press conference ahead of the bill signing, DeSantis said that teaching children that “they can be whatever they want to be” was “not something that’s appropriate for any place, but especially not in Florida.”
“Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is outrageous & absurd, and now they’re inexplicably expanding it through 12th grade,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) wrote on Twitter. “Children deserve to feel safe & supported in school. As Americans, we must reject these harmful policies & prioritize inclusive education.”
The “Don’t Say Gay” bill has spurred copycat measures from congressional Republicans, who in October introduced a bill to prohibit the use of “federal funds to develop, implement, facilitate, or fund any sexually-oriented program, event, or literature for children under the age of 10, and for other purposes.”
Florida state education: DEI programs, pronouns, AP course
Last week, DeSantis signed a bill banning colleges and universities in Florida from spending their cash on most diversity, equity and inclusion programs.
“Florida is getting out of that game,” DeSantis said during a bill signing at New College of Florida in Sarasota. “If you want to do things like gender ideology, go to Berkeley — go to some of these other places.”
The governor had said such programs attempt to indoctrinate students to left-wing ideology and that educational institutions should be free of political bias.
The NAACP issued a formal travel advisory in response to what the group described as DeSantis’ “aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools.”
In response to the law, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom took a subtle jab at DeSantis on Twitter.
“ICYMI: Six University of California campuses ranked among the top 10 public universities in the United States last year, with UC Berkeley and UCLA tying for first place and all nine UC undergraduate campuses in the top 45,” the California governor tweeted.
Shortly after DeSantis’ objections to the College Board’s African American AP course, the Legislature agreed to spend a combined $2.8 million developing a homegrown program for students to take a “classical exam” instead of the SAT or ACT.
Hundreds of people, including Black lawmakers and clergy, demonstrated at Florida’s state Capitol against the DeSantis administration in February, and civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump threatened a lawsuit over the governor’s rejection of the course.
Concealed carry without permit
Floridians will be able to carry concealed guns without a permit under a bill DeSantis signed last month.
DeSantis signed the bill because he believes “you don’t need a permission slip from the government to be able to exercise your constitutional rights.”
“They don’t care about our kids,” Newsom said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Inside With Jen Psaki.” “Cause if they did, they’d ban these damn weapons of war. They would have background checks that require some common damn sense.”
“It is shameful that so soon after another tragic school shooting, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a permitless concealed carry bill behind closed doors,” Jean-Pierre added. “This is the opposite of common-sense gun safety.”
Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) said in a statement, “Florida Republican leaders have decided the NRA is more important than Floridians.”
“Let’s be clear, Floridians will die if this legislation becomes law,” Frost said.
DeSantis’ feud with Disney
DeSantis, in February, signed legislation that ended Disney’s self-governing status, and months later, signed new legislation that gave the governing board the authority to void development agreements that Disney had previously agreed to.
DeSantis sought to bring an end to Disney’s special privileges that were held for more than half a century after Disney came out against the “Don’t Say Gay” measure.
Many potential GOP presidential hopefuls have slammed DeSantis’ handling of his ongoing feud with Disney this week, with Trump calling the feud “so unnecessary.”
“If Disney would like to move their hundreds of thousands of jobs to South Carolina and bring the billions of dollars with them, I’ll let them know I’ll be happy to meet them in South Carolina and introduce them to the governor and legislature that would welcome it,” Nikki Haley, GOP presidential candidate and former United Nations ambassador, told Fox News.
DeSantis signed a bill that will guarantee $12 million more for a controversial program the governor used to fly migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. The bill also requires employers with more than 25 employees to check their immigration status using a federal database known as E-Verify.
DeSantis and Republican allies contend that the law sends a “message” to the Biden administration after the state has seen an influx of migrants.
“Gov DeSantis’ new anti-immigrant bill attacks DREAMers, hurts small businesses & farmers & will increase costs for Fla families,” Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.) said in a tweet. “It’s also deeply unpopular nationally. This will hurt our diverse state & do nothing to help his failing presidential run.”
The League of United Latin American Citizens, a Latino civil rights organization, issued a reminder to Latinos traveling to Florida that they should be cautious when entering the state and encountering police.
“We do not doubt that if Abuelita or Tia is with us and we are profiled, DeSantis’ enforcement regulations will treat us like criminals, transporting a dangerous person who only wanted to visit family or enjoy Disneyworld,” LULAC President Domingo Garcia said.