Florida lawmakers finished the extended 2022 legislative session Monday by approving the final 2022-23 state budget — a whopping $112 billion dollars.
Lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis met in the afternoon at the 4th floor of the state Capitol building to close out the Legislature’s work, with the annual “sine die” tradition of the handkerchief drop to adjourn the two-month session.
In the waning days, crowds of protesters had met on that 4th floor, but their efforts failed to block culture-war bills. Earlier, protesters hoped to block a 15-week abortion ban, but those efforts also failed.
It’s not clear if there will be another special session to deal with congressional redistricting, with a political impasse between Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Legislature.
On Monday, DeSantis and legislative leaders touted their accomplishments for the session, echoing similar themes of increasing pay for state workers and empowering families.
“This really was the year of the parent for the state of Florida,” DeSantis said Monday.
“And I can just say, as the parents of three kids that are age five and under,” DeSantis said Monday, “thank you for letting me and my wife be able to send our kids to kindergarten without them being sexualized.”
DeSantis alluded to bills that impact how parents engage in Florida’s public school system, such as HB 7, though he did not call that bill out directly.
HB 7 restricts how race and gender are discussed in Florida classrooms and workplaces, with opponents saying it will chill important conversations on history, particularly African-American history.
“If you look at the transparency provisions, if you look at what they did to make sure that we’re not treating people different on the basis of race, we in Florida showed a commitment to education, not to indoctrination,” DeSantis said.
He also showed his support for HB 1557, which restricts classroom instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity. Opponents of the bill call it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, but those in support of the legislation say claim it protects young students from being exposed to discussions on sexual activity. The phrase “sexual activity” is not in the bill.
Senate President Wilton Simpson highlighted a $15 minimum wage increase for state workers and school support staffers in 67 school district, plus employees in certain other professions in Florida.
“If you work in a nursing home, if you work as a bus driver, if you are someone that’s working every day with our most vulnerable children or adults, you’re going to get $15 an hour four years ahead of time,” Simpson said. (The state minimum wage is set to increase to $15 an hour in 2026, but the 2022-23 budget year jumpstarts that for thousands of state and district employees.)
House Speaker Chris Sprowls spoke about HB 7065, which would boost fatherhood and mentorship programs in Florida, one of his legislative priorities.
“This was a legislative session focused on Florida families,” Sprowls said Monday. “Empowering them. Lifting them up. Helping them in their darkest times. Whether its going shopping or figuring out who’s going to be the person to take care of them or look after them. Whether it’s tackling the fatherlessness crisis…or whether it’s the great work of President Simpson did and making sure we revamp our adoption and our foster care system, putting more resources and more efforts into at risk kids than ever before.”
That said, for another year in a row, the Legislature, flush with cash, did not expand Medicaid for Florida’s most vulnerable residents.
While the Legislature approved the bills, DeSantis still has to approve the measures.
The start of the Monday press conference was interrupted by a protester raining fake $100 dollar bills over the railing of the 5th floor down to the 4th floor where DeSantis spoke. He chanted “fund communities, not corporations.”
Phoenix reporters could not see how the situation was resolved, but the commotion died down relatively quickly.
–Danielle J. Brown, Florida Phoenix
John T. Schroeder says
What a great Governor we have! You should appreciate that our Governor believes in freedom and the constitution. How many of you were indoctrinated into the gay agenda in Kindergarten to Third grade???? Probably not most here on this site. None of this was ever discussed in school or at home. Our Governor just simply wants parents to be involved in what the children are taught in the public schools, just like my parents did when I was growing up (remember the P.T.A.) ? Our Governor is just trying to inform the uninformed of our state that everyone should have a voice in what is taught in our schools. Nobody on the right is against any Gay rights or any other preference. We just think that age appropriate should be thought of first. Remember, our children our the future of this country.
The dude says
Of my five children, none of them were taught to be gay in third grade… or any grade for that matter.
One of them is gay anyway. She’s an amazing person and I love her with all my heart.
ROFL! Nobody is being indoctrinated nor are they teaching it. I just shake my head in bewilderment where some of these people believe this stuff that the GOP fabricates. “Gay Agenda” LOL!
NOT getting my Vote just saying
“Remember, our children our the future of this country.”
Yes, they certainly are. However shielding them from the real world in matters of history, race, sex, economics and world politics will do nothing to prepare them for the future. It will only serve to satisfy your own inner pleasure to deny facts and oppress others.
Get over it; slavery really did happen as did Jim Crowe – we still have a country filled with racial prejudice. People were lynched for no reason other than being ‘different’ – a young man was gunned down on a public street in Georgia for being black in a white area. My family owned slaves and yes I will try to do what I can to ease the pain of that wrong. There are LBGTQ people in this world, their beliefs and feelings cannot hurt you in any way, not like the contagious disease which claimed 72,000 Floridians in the last two years and our Governor did nothing to mitigate. Economics and politics will continue to set the new world order and your kids need to be prepared for it. Otherwise, be prepared for the drones your approach to education will produce.
DeSantis and his ilk are doing nothing to build a better future they are not trying to ‘inform’ people; they are only trying to rile up your fears so you will vote for them. And they have succeeded. Seriously do you think that ‘don’t say gay’ will make this a better world? Never mind, that was rhetorical, I know your answer. My real question is ‘of what are you so afraid that you have to silence those with an opposing view?’
Sheila Zinkerman says
“Nobody on the right is against any Gay rights or any other preference.”
I respectfully disagree with your comment above. Please reference the bills and laws listed below that were targeted against individuals and their civil rights; these bills were introduced and passed into laws by right-wing GOP legislators as of 04/13/2021.
Excerpt from article: “The Republican Party Finds a New Group to Demonize:” Adam Serwer: The Atlantic 04/13/2021:
“Republican legislators in Arkansas just passed a ban on gender-affirming medical care for trans youth, overriding the governor’s veto, and Alabama is on the verge of passing a similar ban. Republican legislators in North Carolina have proposed legislation that would go further, forcing state employees to immediately notify parents in writing if a child displays “gender nonconformity,” forcing public workers to act as gender cops. A Texas proposal would label gender-affirming care a form of child abuse and separate trans children from parents who helped them secure it. More such proposals are sure to follow, as Republicans indulge the moral panic about trans identity, hoping to reap the benefits of once again forcing Democrats to defend the civil rights of a small community that lacks the numbers to outvote them.”
“These laws are egregious violations of personal liberty, inserting the state into decisions best made by families in consultation with medical professionals. That many of the people involved in passing such laws are among those who fought marriage equality is no coincidence. Perhaps they believe that, in picking a fight with children, they’ve chosen a war they can actually win.”
Read full Atlantic article here:
Furthermore, DeSantis has backed bills that passed in 2022 that may violate personal liberty: HB 7 restricts how race and gender are discussed in classrooms and businesses; and HB 1577 restricts classroom instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity. These right-wing laws certainly contradict your statement … “everyone should have a voice in what is taught in our schools.” Conversely, these laws restrict the voices of our LBGTQ+, Black, other marginalized groups, parents and students; their voices are silenced.
Adam Serwer’s observation is correct: “The Republican Party Finds a New Group to Demonize.” However, good people in the 21st century are not fooled by DeSantis’ biased legislative record that goads his base to his campaign donation and merchandise page. Activists and others have rallied against these bills and laws and they don’t appreciate him or his unprincipled GOP attacks on their civil liberties.
Mary Kay Hayward says
“Our Governor is just trying to inform the uninformed of our state that everyone should have a voice in what is taught in our schools.” What about the voices of those who want to teach tolerance? Acceptance? I was born in the 50s. I went to kindergarten with a boy that I was friends with from my neighborhood, but I didn’t chase him down at recess and kiss him like I did the other boys. I didn’t know why, I just didn’t. Later, of course, in (say) high school it was known he is gay. My point…..KIDS SENSE DIFFERENCES, parents teach hate or acceptance of those differences. It’s not the early education teachers who are making our children today aware of sexual preferences. It’s dictators like DeSantis who want to make “gay” a bad word, and young children then want to know why. Have you no heart for the children who have not yet verbalized their sexuality or have parents who are gay? What about those parents? Do they have any rights? How does DeSantis (or you or any body) know that his/our young children are gay? Banning the entire conversation in early education is not the answer IMO.
This governor is an idiot and a bully just like his cult leader trump. He doesn’t give a shit about kids or their parents. He’s just pandering to the racist, bigoted, homophobic trump base.
Time for this jerk to be voted out.
@Shitheads with neckties — floriduh style — marching into the past
“I really do not want my pictures in your offices, for the President is not an icon, an idol or a portrait. Hang your kids’ photos instead, and look at them each time you are making a decision,…”
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukarine’s new president — in his inaugural address
Minimum wage at 15 an hour on 2026. 4 yes. from now, we will see what happens. Many people will be retired by then. He nor the Repubs will get my vote. Just saying.
How incredibly hypocritical that trump’s lackey DeSantis has the nerve to call this the year of the parent! Let’s all remember when parents put masks on their children to appear on TV with that jerk, “HE” told those kids to take their protective masks “OFF”!!! DeSantis went AGAINST the will of those parents! Desantis wanted the masks off because of HIS political image and stance being against the science of health safety measures like vaccines and masking.
The ONLY parents DeSantis supports are those that are in lock step with his far right political agenda!
Mary Kay Hayward says
Sherry, I COMPLETELY agree with you. That was a disgraceful display of intimidation and bullying those students into following his agenda, while it was CLEAR that THEIR parents wanted THEIR children to wear masks.
He also said they can leave them on. Some of the kids even laughed. No big deal.