Gov. Ron DeSantis has continued to grow in prominence as the 2024 United States Presidential Election slowly approaches. DeSantis, who announced he would run for president May 24, has used the state’s 2023 legislation session to mold Florida politics and boost his national campaign.
State legislation passed under his administration has consistently received national attention due to its often wide-reaching effects. For the past months, DeSantis, and by extension Florida, has become a symbol for sweeping political activism.
DeSantis has enacted laws like the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill and a series of laws banning books about gender identity and critical race theory in schools. This year, state politics have drastically shaped what gets taught in public schools — and it hasn’t happened without opposition or controversy.
Our state has been increasingly present in national conversations because of these laws, but that doesn’t mean that their effects are purely political.
Whether it’s banning social media from “countries of concern” or restricting people to gendered bathrooms, state laws are increasingly changing what it means to live, work and study in Florida, driving many residents away from our educational and political spaces out of concern for their safety and freedom.
We believe that bringing light to these realities will help bring life to the headlines.
One of our duties as a newspaper is to serve our communities by highlighting the laws affecting the lives of those who read our work. For us, this means taking the time to explain and individualize the more than 200 state laws passed July 1.
It can be hard to keep up with legislation when large quantities are passed at a single time, but the high volume of simultaneous changes doesn’t undermine their severity.
This week, we dedicated our paper to covering as many new laws and proposed laws as we could. Through our reporting, we hope to paint a real picture of what these changes will look like for our communities, whether it’s about their class curriculum or their parent’s legal status.
We covered the anticipated exodus of UF faculty as a result of a series of laws reforming higher education. Several UF faculty members have begun to search for new jobs after the administration passed laws limiting funding for DEI initiatives at state universities.
The issue of affordable housing continues to be a major area of concern as two bills — Senate Bill 102 and House Bill 1417 — were passed to address it. The bills look to address the issues but have left Gainesville residents with mixed feelings.
Also at UF, Student Government has made an attempt to stand up to the legislation passed by the DeSantis administration. Members of UF Student Government have submitted legislation In an attempt to make solidarity with students who could be affected by the state’s new laws.
There have also been laws passed that propose to change how Florida’s school board elections operate. House Bill 31 proposes to amend Florida’s constitution. If it is passed then voters will see party affiliations next to the names of the candidates running for district school board positions.
DeSantis’ administration has also targeted immigrants in the state. His immigration bill targets migrants in the workforce, leaving little to no room for work opportunities. The legislation pushes for stricter employee and health regulations and repeals non-citizens and DACA recipients from securing a license to practice law in Florida starting Nov. 28, 2028.
We even wrote about the 41 bills that failed to make it past the summer. We highlighted four bills that were either vetoed by DeSantis or died in Congress. The bills include implementing a teacher base salary of $65,000, encouraging public agencies to use electric cars and renewable energy, solidifying the right to same sex marriage and ensuring healthcare providers are using the correct titles.
Our special edition about DeSantis’s most recently passed laws aims to explain how the state is affecting our communities at the local level. The stories in this paper prove how quickly the state can influence our daily lives. There are many more laws that took effect July 1 that we couldn’t fit on our 16 pages and we urge our readers to educate themselves on how this legislation affects them.