If you are not fully aware of what these bills actually mean for you and your family, here’s a complete rundown.
The ominous sounding “Election Police.” “Don’t Say Gay” and banning books to “protect” the children from literature that teaches respect for diversity. Targeting businesses that serve immigrant children. Not allowing for the true history of race to be taught in schools to avoid the discomfort of some (while arguing that keeping statues of prominent slave owners in public places is justified, as they are “part of US history”).
But these are not torn out of a page from “1984,” George Orwell’s terrifying vision of a totalitarian society where citizens lose all their rights to Big Brother, a fascist dictator who admits no dissent. These are all actual bills in Florida that many may not be aware of, and that state Democrats are denouncing for infringing on the rights and the wellbeing of everyday Floridians.
In fact, Florida US Rep. Charlie Crist, who is running to defeat Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in November, calls them “The Dirty Dozen.”
“Governor DeSantis loves to say Florida is the ‘freest state in America’ while he and his GOP Legislature pass bill after bill to take away the rights of millions of Floridians and make our state even more unaffordable for working folks,” Crist said.
How the ‘Dirty Dozen’ Directly Affect You
Here’s a run down of the bills that, according to Crist, take rights away from Floridians and affect their livelihood. Some are self-explanatory, while others need some context to be fully understood.
- State budget that fails to expand Medicaid and punishes public schools that defy DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates. (HB 5001)
- Gas tax gimmick instead of real relief. With gas prices soaring in April, Florida is preparing to give drivers a gas tax holiday—in October—which doesn’t do much to help Floridians struggling under the burden of high gas prices now. (HB 7071)
- 15-week abortion ban. (HB 5)
- “Don’t Say Gay,” which will ban classroom discussion of issues relating to sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, as well as for older students, if the issues discussed are considered not age-appropriate. (HB 1557)
- Election police force to prevent voter fraud. State Democrats have denounced the idea as unnecessary as the Republican incumbent is using baseless claims of voter fraud to play to his conservative party’s agenda. In fact, after the 2020 presidential election, DeSantis himself claimed that Florida held the “smoothest and most successful election of any state.” (SB 524)
- Attacking businesses that serve immigrant children. (SB 1808)
- Allowing frivolous lawsuits against cities. The bill would allow businesses to sue cities and counties if passed local regulation results in at least a demonstrable 15% loss of profits. “If we let this bill pass, how many frivolous lawsuits will there be?” said Rep. Dianne Hart. (SB 620)
- Attack on newspapers for legal notice publishing. (HB 7049)
- University president selection secrecy. According to the First Amendment Foundation, there is no evidence that secret searches for a university president will produce better-credentialed candidates. “Rather, there is evidence that secrecy results in promoting well-connected insiders, leaving out women, people of color and other well-qualified applicants.” (SB 520)
- Increasing cost of rooftop solar. (HB 741)
- Weakening nursing home staffing. (HB 1239)
- “Don’t Say Race,” or the “Individual Freedom” measure, which prohibits educators from promoting lessons that would make students “feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress because of actions, in which the person played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, national origin, or sex.” Opponents worry the bill will limit race education in the state and open a door to frivolous litigation. (HB 7)
A Political Play for 2024
“This governor doesn’t just want to strip you of your right to choose, right to vote, and right to be who you are. He wants you to pay more at the pump, he wants you to pay more for health care, and he wants you to pay more for utilities,” added Crist.
However, another state Democrat sees the “Dirty Dozen” as part of a broader plan.
“What we are seeing is a governor that is embracing the most extreme radical wing of the Republican party to feed political points to his base for his [2024 presidential] political campaign,” former Democratic US Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell told Floricua.