TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The gavel drops on 2022's legislative session in Florida on Tuesday, and the state's more than 150 state senators and representatives are set to consider nearly 3,500 bills over the next the 60 days. Some of them are consequential, others controversial.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has offered a long wish list of policy goals, largely steering the GOP's agenda in 2022.
They include the following:
- Ending Florida's end-of-the-year FSA testing
- A new office to investigate election crime and other voter reforms
- Restricting critical race theory in public classrooms and corporate training under threat of litigation
DeSantis is also seeking a near $100 billion budget that includes bringing back the Florida State Guard, more teacher bonuses and increased education funding, cutting the gas tax for consumers by a billion dollars and aims to improve Florida waterways.
"It's not going to be very difficult for him to get his agenda through," said Dr. Susan MacManus, University of South Florida professor emerita.
MacManus said polls show the Republican majority backs the governor's ideas. She also said his proposals don't forget independents as Election Day looms.
"This is one of those something for everyone kind of budgets," MacManus said. "But, clearly designed to make sure that it's appealing to Republicans, who tend to turn out at a higher rate in Florida elections than Democrats."
Meanwhile, Democrats have said they'll seek immigration reform, relief from skyrocketing rent hikes and better teacher pay in the upcoming session.
"It's time to put people first," said Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Winter Park. "That's exactly what we're doing this legislative session."
Others have vowed to fight changes to Florida's abortion law, which could be in the mix this year.
One bill seeks to mimic Texas' fetal heartbeat bill, banning abortion at six weeks. That's before many women discover they're pregnant.
"I want folks to know, any new restriction on abortion is extreme," said Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando. The fact that there are those out there trying to make 15 weeks look moderate is complete trash."
The 60-day lawmaking clock starts running Tuesday morning, with DeSantis kicking things off and giving his annual State of the State Address at 11 a.m.