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DeSantis Wants Special Session For His Proposed Law To Combat Violent Protests

Florida Gov. Ron Desantis gives his state of the state address on the first day of legislative session, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Steve Cannon
AP Photo

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants the legislature to work on his plan to crack down on what he calls violent protests during a November organizational session, but the state's top elected Democrat thinks lawmakers should spend their time on other issues. DeSantis calls the plan the “Combating Violence, Disorder and Looting & Law Enforcement Protection Act."

The legislature is on schedule to return Nov. 17, post-election. In order for lawmakers to vote on DeSantis’ proposal either he or the incoming House and Senate leaders will have to call a special session. DeSantis says he has reached out to incoming Senate President Wilton Simpson.

"I mentioned to both President Simpson and the incoming speaker that look you guys are going to be here for the organizational session," said DeSantis. "It’s going to have broad support I think certainly from the Republican caucuses in both chambers. You know it may be something you need to act."

DeSantis made his remarks Tuesday after a state cabinet meeting. Also at the meeting: one of his biggest critics, and fellow cabinet member, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. She’s not opposed to a special session but says this isn’t the issue lawmakers should be taking up.

"I mean as we know we are still dealing with COVID-19, we’re still having a healthcare issue, an education issue. A $5.4 billion revenue shortfall for the next two years," said Fried.

DeSantis’ proposal would increase penalties, most to a felony, for people who damage property, statues, or injure police officers during protests. It would also cut funding to local governments that reduce law enforcement agency budgets.

Blaise Gainey is a State Government Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.