Ron DeSantis‘ legislative milestones over the last four years – and his agenda for the next term as Florida governor – are a sign of what could become an ‘anti-woke’ blueprint for America.
The GOP‘s rising star began laying out his ideals for his second term in early January – continuing to fuel speculation that he’s setting out his campaign priorities for a potential future presidential run.
DeSantis’ vision for the state – where he says ‘woke goes to die’ – includes a massive focus on education and parents’ rights, as well as a crackdown on lingering Covid-19 restrictions and a ban on the teaching of Critical Race Theory.
DailyMail.com breaks down some of the legislative hurdles DeSantis cleared in his first term – and what he intends to achieve in his second.
Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis laid out his plans for his second term in an approximately 20-minute speech at his inauguration on January 3 that many viewed as a blueprint for a presidential run in 2024
POWER TO PARENTS
Dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law by critics, the Parental Rights in Education Act gives guardians more power when it comes to their children’s education in Florida public schools.
The bill is mostly aimed at preventing schools from withholding information about children’s mental, emotional or physical health from their parents, unless disclosing that information could lead to abuse.
It also bans teachers from discussing gender identity and sexual orientation with children in kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Governor DeSantis signed the bill into law in March 2022 and it was implemented in June.
Recently, the Florida legislature suggested it could expand the act by three more grades to include those up to 6th grade, which is around the age of 11 or 12.
A spokesperson for DeSantis confirmed to DailyMail.com that the governor will consider the legislation.
At his inauguration, Florida Gov. DeSantis said he will enact ‘family friendly’ policies and make Florida the best state to raise a family. Pictured: The governor arrives at his swearing-in ceremony with wife Casey DeSantis and their three children Madison, Mason and Mamie
BAN CRITICAL RACE THEORY
DeSantis signed a bill in April 2022 to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory in Florida schools.
The governor said at the time that the civil rights-inspired theory contributes to and constitutes the practice of unlawful discrimination by teaching that ‘a person by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive.
‘No one should be instructed to feel as if they are not equal or shamed because of their race,’ DeSantis said. ‘In Florida, we will not let the far-left woke agenda take over our schools and workplaces. There is no place for indoctrination or discrimination in Florida.’
GOV. RON DESANTIS’ BLUEPRINT FOR FLORIDA
Governor Ron DeSantis’ inauguration speech was largely viewed as a trial run outlining a potential 2024 presidential run. Here are some of DeSantis’ main focuses:
‘Florida must always be a great place to raise a family – we will enact more family-friendly policies to make it easier to raise children and we will defend our children against those who seek to rob them of their innocence.’
‘We must ensure school systems are responsive to parents and to students, not partisan interest groups, and we must ensure that our institutions of higher learning are focused on academic excellence and the pursuit of truth, not the imposition of trendy ideology.’
BACK THE BLUE
‘We will always remain a law-and-order state, we will always support law enforcement, and we will always reject soft-on-crime policies that put our communities at risk.’
‘[Federal government] have harmed public safety by coddling criminals and attacking law enforcement.’
‘They have imposed medical authoritarianism in the guise of pandemic mandates and restrictions that lack a scientific basis. This bizarre, but prevalent, ideology that permeates these policy measures purports to act in the name of justice for the marginalized, but it frowns upon American institutions, it rejects merit and achievement, and it advocates identity essentialism. We reject this woke ideology. We seek normalcy, not philosophical lunacy! We will not allow reality, facts, and truth to become optional.’
POWER TO THE STATES
‘Florida’s success has been made more difficult by the floundering federal establishment in Washington, D.C. The federal government has gone on an inflationary spending binge that has left our nation weaker and our citizens poorer, it has enacted pandemic restrictions and mandates – based more on ideology and politics than on sound science – and this has eroded freedom and stunted commerce.’
CRT was the result of an examination by civil-rights scholars and activists regarding how laws, social and political movements, and media help shape concepts of race and ethnicity.
It claims that the US is inherently racist because it was formed by slave owners – and teaches that racism against anyone that is not white is irreversibly ingrained into American society.
The bill says it gives ‘businesses, employees, children and families tools to stand up against discrimination and woke indoctrination.’
Specifically, DeSantis is adamant that teachers should not be instructing students in a way that seeks to sway their opinions or developing thoughts one way or the other.
‘The bill authorizes discussion of topics such as sexism, slavery, racial oppression, racial segregation, and racial discrimination, in an age-appropriate manner, and in such a way that does not indoctrinate or persuade students to a certain point of view that is inconsistent with the principles of individual freedom,’ an April press release on the new law notes.
‘COMMON SENSE’ COVID
Nearly a year after the coronavirus vaccine was rolled out – and months after President Joe Biden said the country was ‘free from COVID’ during an Independence Day speech – DeSantis signed a bill in November 2021 to help protect Floridians against mandates.
The bill banned private employers from enacting vaccine mandates and allows workers to choose various exemptions like health or religious concerns, pregnancy or recovery from a past COVID-19 case.
Instead of vaccine requirements, the bill allows employers to opt for periodical testing or providing PPE, as long as they cover the cost for their employees.
Any employers who violated these new laws, signed by DeSantis on November 18, 2021, could face a $10,000 fine per employee violation for small businesses with less than 100 workers, while medium and big businesses would face a $50,000 fine.
Along with private workplace protections, the law also bans government entities and educational institutions from implementing compulsory vaccination rules of anyone, including their workers.
School districts in Florida are also not allowed to have face mask policies or require quarantine of healthy students.
Students and parents are permitted to sue school districts in violation of the new law and recover any attorney’s fees.
A PERMANENT END TO MANDATES
One of DeSantis’ first actions in 2023 – after winning reelection for a second term – was to propose legislation to make his previous freedoms from COVID-19 restrictions permanent in Florida.
This includes an anti-mandate action to prevent Floridians from losing their jobs due to coronavirus vaccine mandates. It also protects from discrimination due to vaccination status and parents’ rights for their children to wear masks or receive the jab.
The bill would ‘permanently prohibit’ in Florida vaccine passports, vaccine and mask requirements in schools, masking requirements at businesses for staff or customers/clients, and the firing or hiring of employees based on vaccination status.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to ensure that all COVID-related mask and vaccine mandates are permanently banned.
Some of this proposed law is an expansion from previous bills and actions in Florida throughout the pandemic, but with the passage would now become permanent in the Sunshine State.
‘When the world lost its mind, Florida was a refuge of sanity, serving strongly as freedom’s linchpin,’ Governor DeSantis said of the new proposal.
‘These measures will ensure Florida remains this way and will provide landmark protections for free speech for medical practitioners.’
15-WEEK ABORTION BAN
DeSantis helped lead the national charge on restricting abortions in the U.S. by signing a bill in April 2022 that prohibits a pregnancy termination when the fetus has reached 15 weeks in the womb.
‘House Bill 5 protects babies in the womb who have beating hearts, who can move, who can taste, who can see, and who can feel pain,’ DeSantis said in a statement at the time of passage.
‘Life is a sacred gift worthy of our protection, and I am proud to sign this great piece of legislation which represents the most significant protections for life in the state’s modern history.’
The law was signed two months before the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade, which gave rights back to the states on implementing abortion-related laws and restrictions.
The Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act was not just aimed at restricting abortion at 15 weeks, but also at increasing research related to fetal and infant mortality and morbidity relative to the geographic area of the state, as well as enact policies that reduce these rates.
DeSantis is pro-life, and helped lead the way for states to enact stricter abortion bans – even before the Supreme Court ruling overturned Roe v. Wade in June. He signed a bill that bans abortion at the 15-week mark of a pregnancy. Pictured: Gov. DeSantis twirls his wife Casey during an on-stage dance at his second inaugural ball
The law appropriated more than $1.6 million in recurring funds from the General Revenue Fund for Fiscal Year 2022-2023 for the Florida Department of Health to conduct this research and enact policies that reduce infant and fetal mortality.
This bill was an extension of an abortion law DeSantis signed in June 2020 that requires written consent from a parent or guardian for a minor to receive an abortion. In 2021, he signed a separate bill to help reduce maternal mortality rates and provide postpartum eligibility for Medicaid from two months to a full year.
Also in April 2022, DeSantis signed legislation focused on fatherhood in Florida, including creating educational and mentorship programs as well as one-on-one support. It’s tied to $70 million in funding tied to family and youth support.
DeSantis repeated during his inauguration speech on January 3 that he wants Florida to be the most ‘family friendly’ place in the U.S. and the best state to raise a family.
‘Florida must always be a great place to raise a family – we will enact more family-friendly policies to make it easier to raise children and we will defend our children against those who seek to rob them of their innocence,’ he said in his approximately 20-minute remarks.
While not a legislative action, DeSantis did urge two medical boards in Florida to decide against providing transgender surgeries or treatments for children who identify as the opposite gender in which they were born.
During a joint meeting with the Florida Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine in Lake Buena Vista in November, the two groups voted to stop providing hormones to minors or allowing them to undergo surgery to transition.
The ban came amid urging from DeSantis to prohibit these, many times irreversible, surgeries and treatments for children – especially those who are still pre-pubescent.
Throughout the 2022 reelection campaign, DeSantis made criticizing providing medical treatment for transgender youth part of his stump speech. The policy for the medical board to deny these surgeries and treatments was finalized just days before the election in November.
It exhibited DeSantis’ ability to leverage his power to accomplish political goals outside of the legislature in Florida.
DeSantis made sure to tighten election laws following the 2020 presidential election and claims of widespread fraud. Those who want to vote absentee by mail will need to drop it off at a ‘secure ballot intake station’ monitored by an election worker
‘TIGHTENED’ ELECTION LAWS
Following the 2020 presidential election, Republican states were on edge about voting – and specifically absentee ballot voting.
This led to a series of laws being passed between the presidential election and the 2022 midterms.
Florida’s new voting and elections laws include requiring voters to drop off their ballots in a drop box, now referred to as a ‘secure ballot intake station,’ rather than popping it in the mail.
The locations will be monitored by election personnel at early voting sites during posted hours of operation.
The new law also penalizes any socialization of voters near polling places, as it could be seen as nefarious behavior, as well as prohibits election officials from unilaterally mailing absentee ballots or their applications to voters.
Critics claim that some of these new laws create barriers for certain people, specifically minorities and lower income Americans, to cast their ballots.