‘Florida Plan’: Key Right-wing Bills Signed By Ron DeSantis | electoral news

Washington D.C. – Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis vows to bring his “Florida model” of conservative policymaking to the federal government as he seeks his party’s 2024 presidential nomination.

That “blueprint” has been in the works since DeSantis took office in Florida in early 2019, with the governor using his powers and the Republican majority in the legislature to translate his staunchly right-wing agenda into law.

DeSantis, who has become former President Donald Trump’s most serious challenger in the Republican primary, officially launched his presidential bid Wednesday in a Twitter announcement riddled with glitches and technical difficulties.

But his campaign will certainly hope to shift the focus back to his perceived accomplishments in the Sunshine State.

Here, Al Jazeera looks at five key right-wing policies that helped DeSantis cement his status in US conservative politics.

The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill

Last year, DeSantis signed a bill restricting discussions of sexuality and gender identity in Florida schools.

Dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics, the legislation sparked outrage from liberal advocates who argued that the restrictions may marginalize and harm young students who identify as LGBTQ+.

“Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties about sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through third grade or in a manner that is not age or developmentally appropriate. students in accordance with state standards,” the legislation said.

The bill allowed parents to file lawsuits against school districts if they thought the law had been violated.

It also requires school officials to inform parents “if there is a change in the student’s services or monitoring related to the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being.”

In April, the Florida Board of Education expanded the law to apply to all grades, not just elementary school children.

Conservatives have claimed it is part of a broader push to give parents more say in their children’s education, especially when it comes to issues of sexuality and gender identity.

The law, officially called Parental Rights in Education, drew criticism from Walt Disney Company executives, prompting DeSantis to take steps to strip the company of its special tax district status.

That move against Disney turned into a protracted and highly publicized legal and political battle that drew more praise from conservatives who see many corporations increasingly embracing liberal social issues.

abortion ban

Last month, DeSantis passed one of the strictest abortion bans in the country: banning the procedure in Florida after six weeks of pregnancy. She followed a 15-week ban that she had signed into law a year earlier.

Restricting abortion is another important issue for conservatives who saw the push as a call to protect the lives of the “unborn.” Liberals, however, have said that abortion bans infringe on women’s bodily autonomy and the right to privacy and health care.

The law was criticized by rights groups who pointed out that many women do not even know they are pregnant at six weeks.

“The signing of this bill is a serious government intrusion into people’s personal lives. Floridians, not politicians, should have the freedom to decide what is best for us, our families and our future,” the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a statement after the signing of the bill.

But DeSantis said he was “proud to support life and family” in Florida.

Even Trump, who has often prided himself on appointing three conservative justices to the US Supreme Court, leading to overturning the constitutional right to abortion, suggested that the six-week ban may be “too harsh.”

anti immigration bill

In early May, DeSantis signed into law a bill his office called “the strongest anti-illegal immigration legislation in the country,” requiring businesses with more than 25 employees to put in place a system that ensures their workers are not undocumented. .

The legislation also prohibited Florida municipalities from issuing identification cards to people who do not have regular status.

Additionally, the law required “hospitals to collect and report data on the costs of providing health care” to undocumented immigrants.

The bill, which was introduced two weeks before DeSantis announced his presidential candidacy, tapped into Republican anger at the surge in arrivals of immigrants and asylum seekers at the southern border of the United States.

Last year, DeSantis joined other Republican state leaders in funding the resettlement of asylum seekers to largely liberal areas of the country. He chartered two flights to ferry dozens of immigrants and asylum seekers from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, a wealthy community in the northeastern state of Massachusetts.

The move sparked outrage and questions about the legality of the transfer. Democratic President Joe Biden’s White House denounced the incident at the time as cruel “political theater.”

US presidential candidate Ron DeSantis has said his leadership in Florida shows what he can do for America. [File: Scott Audette/Reuters]

Diversity Targeted Programs

Earlier this month, DeSantis signed a bill to block federal and state funding for programs that aim to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at public universities, fueling a conservative push against such initiatives. .

He denounced DEI programs as part of a “relatively recent” push to impose an “ideological agenda” on educational institutions.

“DEI is best seen as a representation of discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination. And that has no place in our public institutions,” DeSantis said.

The legislation prohibits instructions that teach “identity politics” or “theories that racism, sexism, oppression, and systemic privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, and economic inequalities.” “.

In recent years, many US universities have adopted DEI’s programs and training to bolster diversity in their ranks and better address the needs of minority students and faculty.

Democratic state legislator Anna Eskamani called the legislation “destructive” and said it “suppresses academic freedom and inserts conservative political orthodoxy into the classroom.”

Relaxation of gun regulations

Despite recent mass shootings and a rise in gun violence across the country, DeSantis signed legislation in April to further relax firearms regulations in Florida.

The legislation made it legal for people to carry guns without a permit from the state. “The constitutional carry is on the books,” DeSantis said in a brief statement at the time.

Gun restrictions are the source of the ideological schism between Republicans and Democrats.

Democrats have called for stricter regulations to stop gun violence, while many Republicans view gun ownership as a non-negotiable right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.

The White House criticized the Florida law, calling it “shameful.”

“This is the opposite of common sense gun safety. The people of Florida, who have paid a heavy price for state and congressional inaction on guns from Parkland to Pulse Nightclub to Pine Hills, deserve better,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. , in a statement at the time, citing a previous Mass. shootings in Florida.