Seeking to raise his score with his Republican base over his presumptive presidential candidacy, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this year checked off several boxes on the alt-right’s wish list of laws restricting abortion rights, gender transition care for minors, and education about sexual orientation.
Expansion of the death penalty and who can carry a concealed firearm in their state? check. Targeting Disney? check.
He could soon remove the requirement to resign from the governorship to run for president.
The bill signing frenzy and culture war agenda laid the groundwork for the candidacy of Mr. DeSantis, who is seeking to present himself as a viable alternative to former President Donald J. Trump, the GOP front-runner and former ally. .
Here are the bills signed by Mr. DeSantis this year:
Six weeks abortion ban
In April, Mr. DeSantis signed a law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, making Florida one of the most restrictive states on reproductive rights in the country. As a result, the state would not be a destination for women from all over the Deep South seeking abortions.
Emboldened by last year’s Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Republicans have used their supermajorities in the Florida legislature to move the measure forward. It replaced a 15-week abortion ban that Mr. DeSantis signed in April 2022, before the nation’s Supreme Court threw out 50 years of legal precedent for abortion.
But unlike the previous ban, which Mr. DeSantis promoted by signing a bill in church, he announced a six-week ban in his office late at night without public notice, except for a group of supporters who joined him.
The law includes exceptions for rape, incest, and saving the life of the mother. The order will not become effective until the Florida Supreme Court decides to challenge the 15-week restriction.
Prohibition of transitional care for minors
In mid-May, as he was finalizing his presidential bid, Mr. DeSantis signed a measure banning and restricting gender transitional care for minors to adults, the latest measure by Republicans this year targeting Florida’s LGBTQ communities.
It imposed a penalty of up to five years in prison for doctors who violate the ban and required adults seeking gender transition care to sign a consent form.
Teaching “identity politics,” long a preoccupation of right-wing Republicans, is banned in public institutions by law, which has also weakened tenure protections.
In March, Mr. DeSantis gave governors another trophy, creating a universal school voucher program. Critics said the $8,000 per year per student benefit would undermine public schools and further enrich wealthy families because it had no income cap.
The death penalty
Abortion wasn’t the only issue Florida took a sharp turn on this year: The death penalty was another.
In April, Mr. DeSantis signed into law a bill that would significantly lower the threshold for imposing the death penalty. It wouldn’t take a unanimous vote of 12 members of a jury to sentence a person to death. An 8-to-4 majority would be enough under the new law, which is expected to face legal challenges from criminal justice reform groups.
The vast majority of the 27 states that allow the death penalty require a unanimous vote of the jury. Alabama is one of the exceptions: a majority of 10 to 2 suffices. In deadlocked jury cases, judges decide in Indiana and Missouri.
In Florida, Republicans pushed for an expansion of the death penalty after last year a jury handed down a life sentence to the man who killed 17 people in the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Nine of the 12 members of the jury voted for the death penalty.
Around the same time that the super PAC group supporting Mr. DeSantis called Mr. Trump a “gun snatcher,” the governor signed a law in April allowing Floridians to carry concealed weapons without a permit.
Starting July 1, gun owners will not be required to pass a safety course and background check, a shift away from calls for stricter gun laws in the state after the 2018 mass shootings in Parkland and in 2016 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
Mr. DeSantis and his allies have sought to portray Mr. Trump as a Second Amendment squishy, with the Supreme Security Measures Committee suggesting the former president “cut and run like a coward” on gun rights issues when he was in the White House.
Disney and immigration censorship
In an escalation of hostilities between DeSantis and Disney, which Republicans have turned into an allegory of “wake-up” culture, the governor signs a series of bills targeting the company and its autonomy over a special tax district that includes Disney World. .
The action, which Republicans and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have claimed was necessary for security reasons, will create a shroud of secrecy around who pays for Mr. DeSantis’ travel and how he divides his time as governor and presidential candidate.
Mr. Trump even touched on the issue, saying in a statement from his campaign in April that Mr. DeSantis had not been transparent about how much taxpayer money he was spending on travel.
Yet another bill awaiting Mr. DeSantis’ signature is intertwined with his own political ambitions. He will immediately remove the requirement to resign from the governorship to run for president. He may not even need a pen: it will take effect automatically if it is not signed.
Contribute to the preparation of reports Nicholas NehamasAnd Patricia MazzyAnd Gabriel’s JourneyAnd Nick Corasanetti And Brooks Barnes.