DeSantis promotes his 2023 agenda


Tribune News Service

Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing a $3.5 billion environmental plan, the bulk of which would go to Everglades and water-quality projects. Photo courtesy of Jose A. Iglesias/TNS.

Kevin Hamm, Writer

Following a landslide re-election victory in November, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis was sworn into a second term Tuesday, Jan. 3 and gave his inaugural address, in which he touted his accomplishments and laid out his policy agenda for 2023.

DeSantis plans to use the Republican majority in the Florida state legislature to enact policies on a wide variety of issues, including abortion, gun laws, education and more.

His policy proposals are controversial among Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and staff.

“I don’t feel that my education is restricted too much by DeSantis’ education policies, not at this age in high school at least because I feel that at certain ages some topics are inappropriate to teach,” freshman Sarah Rosaler said. “When you’re in high school, however, you’re on your own and can understand things better, so you should be able to learn what you want.”

DeSantis voiced support in 2022 for passing the Heartbeat Bill, which would ban abortions if the fetus had a detectable heartbeat, which can be as early as five to six weeks into the pregnancy. The governor’s support for additional abortion restrictions has drawn the ire of Democrats, who believe that he is taking advantage of the repeal of Roe v. Wade to restrict women’s rights.

Concerning education, DeSantis wants to target teachers’ unions by passing a paycheck protection law which would prevent teachers’ unions from deducting union dues from teachers’ paychecks if a teacher didn’t pay the dues, which he claims is a practice used to fund liberal initiatives and candidates.

Critics have accused the governor of trying to hurt teachers for the sake of a culture war especially since police, nurses and firefighters unions would continue to have their dues automatically deducted. Florida laws dictate that if a union’s membership rate declines below 50%, then the union will be decertified, which bolsters fears that DeSantis is using the law to indirectly break up teachers’ unions who disagree with his policies.

“I think his paycheck protection plan is a bad idea because you’d be taking away unions’ ability to make money and protect teachers and get them better salaries and benefits; I understand politically what he’s doing, but most teachers are against it, so it’s counterintuitive,” AP Government teacher Jeff Foster said. “DeSantis has a big opportunity to pass whatever policies he wants to, so he has to be mindful of what he passes so he can gain popularity, not just in Florida, but across the country for a potential presidential run because he has the votes.”

Constitutional carry laws, which allow legal gun owners to carry a firearm visibly or concealed without a permit, are likely to be introduced to Florida as well with support from DeSantis and Republicans, a move that gun control activists worry could worsen an already dangerous violent crime problem.

DeSantis also plans to urge the Florida Supreme Court to form a grand jury to investigate COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers such as Pfizer and Moderna for potential harmful side effects of the vaccines; additionally, he has also voiced support for issuing indictments against certain people involved with producing the vaccines and for creating a public health integrity committee to replace the CDC in Florida. He also wants to ban all COVID-19 vaccine requirements from both private companies and local governments.

As the Florida legislative session begins later in March and as candidates start to announce their 2024 presidential runs, both Floridians and Americans across the country will be paying attention to DeSantis’ next legislative moves.