It’s been mere hours since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, and Florida Republicans are already posturing to expand on the state’s upcoming abortion ban.
Florida’s 15-week abortion ban (HB 5) will likely have to wait for a decision in the Florida Supreme Court before being finally settled as law. But on Friday afternoon, Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested the Sunshine State could go further in the era of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which was decided 5-4 Friday morning.
“Florida will continue to defend its recently-enacted pro-life reforms against state challenges, will work to expand pro-life protections, and will stand for life by promoting adoption, foster care and child welfare,” the Republican Governor said in a statement.
The state’s future legislative leaders are also chiming in.
“I put a high value on life, and we’ve passed many measures in Florida to protect unborn life, promote adoption, and support parents who choose life for their babies,” Passidomo tweeted. “I am grateful to see the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade. These defenders of the Constitution have given the states rights to do what is right. Here in Florida, we will continue to defend life.”
House Speaker-designate Paul Renner, a Palm Coast Republican, issued a statement more like the Governor’s — alluding to future action.
“Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision rightfully returns the debate on protecting life back to the states where it belongs,” Renner said. “The Florida Legislature has made significant strides towards protecting the unborn and will continue to pursue legislation that honors the sanctity of life.”
Across the aisle, Democrats remain steadfast in their support for abortion rights.
“With Florida Republicans cruelly proving their appetite for robbing women and girls victimized by the horrific trauma of rape, incest, and human trafficking of their right to an abortion after 15 weeks — period, end of sentence, no exceptions — it is clearly only a matter of time before our state also debates an all-out abortion ban,” Book said.
House Democratic Leader-designate Fentrice Driskell, who is expected to lead House Democrats for the next four years, also brings a unique perspective as the first Black woman to lead the caucus. The Court has now become a political tool, she said.
“For Floridians, today’s decision ratifies the radical and dangerous legislation jammed through the state government by Republicans and clears the path for a full ban of all abortions in our state, without exceptions for rape or incest,” Driskell said. “This is a major setback as we work to create a state and country where we all have the freedom to be healthy, prosperous and safe. But I am more determined than ever to fight.”
Coming up, the usual assortment of news, intel and observations from the week that was in Florida’s capital city by Peter Schorsch, Drew Wilson, Renzo Downey, Christine Jordan Sexton and the staff of Florida Politics.
But first …
The “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:
Andrew Gillum indicted on fraud charges — While it may already feel like it’s a week old, the biggest news out of Tallahassee was that Andrew Gillum and a longtime associate were arrested and indicted on charges related to wire fraud on Wednesday. Both pleaded not guilty to all 20 counts, with Gillum also pleading not guilty to lying to FBI agents. Both have also been released and suggest there are political motivations behind the charges. Sharon Lettman-Hicks, his associate, dropped out of the House District 8 race as a result of the indictment. Meanwhile, DeSantis got to take a victory lap against the former candidate, whom he said the media treated like “the second coming.”
DeSantis vetoes alimony bill — After years of unsuccessful negotiations to modify Florida’s divorce laws, DeSantis vetoed the Republican-led Legislature’s latest effort to end permanent alimony. With DeSantis’ veto on Friday, the measure (SB 1796) marks the third proposal vetoed by a Florida Republican Governor in the last decade. Despite most Republicans coming together in support of this year’s package after repeated unsuccessful attempts to pass similar alimony reform measures, DeSantis in his veto letter wrote that the Legislature’s proposal is unconstitutional. “If (SB 1796) were to become law and be given retroactive effect as the Legislature intends, it would unconstitutionally impair vested rights under certain preexisting marital settlement agreements.”
Local Business Protection Act also vetoed — DeSantis also vetoed SB 620, a top priority of Senate President Wilton Simpson that sought to punish local governments for passing laws that reduce their profit by 15% per location within the city or county. The business could’ve been awarded damages for the cost of their lost profits for up to seven years. In his veto letter, DeSantis said the bill would have had unintended consequences because it was too broad. He suggested targeted preemption legislation instead. “Incredibly, this bill exempts compensating businesses due to ‘emergency’ orders of local government,” DeSantis wrote. “However, the broad and ambiguous language of the bill will lead to both unintended and unforeseen consequences and costly litigation.” Additionally, the Governor vetoed three more bills.
DeSantis signs Alzheimer’s bill — DeSantis did grace dozens of bills this week. Among them, he signed legislation (SB 806) directing the Department of Health to educate health care providers on the warning signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Roughly 580,000 people over the age of 65 live with Alzheimer’s disease in Florida, the second-highest population in the nation. That number is projected to jump to 720,000 in three years. The Governor noted there was an additional $21 million in increased funding for Alzheimer’s programs in the Department of Elder Affairs in the state Fiscal Year 2022-23 budget that kicks in July 1. And he said there has been a 60% increase in Alzheimer’s-related funding since he took office.
First Lady launches Mamas for DeSantis — First Lady Casey DeSantis announced the launch of Mamas for DeSantis. The political effort will rally parents to support the Governor’s parental rights agenda. “Through the First Lady’s leadership, Mamas for DeSantis will work in partnership with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ re-election campaign as a movement for Florida moms, grandmas, abuelas, nanas and more to get involved in the re-election campaign,” according to a press release. A website bills that effort as “The Million Mama Movement.” That’s a lofty goal in a state where just over 8 million voted in the last gubernatorial election, perhaps considering the Mamas usefulness will extend past DeSantis’ 2022 re-election campaign and into a potential presidential campaign for 2024, which he’s still denying.