Lawmakers can impact our lives in profound ways. Part of our civic responsibilities includes being aware of proposed laws, so that we may hold our representatives accountable should these adversely impact us or those around us.
Recently, the Florida legislature has been flooded with proposed laws that can only be described as “dangerous”. These bills have not garnered much attention in the media and so far have gone unnoticed. However, a recent article was published by Floricua, a Florida-based newsroom by the Courier Newsroom publication. The article mentions five bills that may have serious implications for the Sunshine State.
Fees in Lieu of Security Deposits (CS/SB 494)
This bill will reduce the availability of affordable housing, as this will allow out-of-state companies to bill tenants a monthly fee if they are unable to pay a security deposit to secure a lease. While this may be considered a good thing for those who can’t put down a deposit, the Courier Newsroom publication reported that these payments will be non-refundable and wouldn’t be used to offset the cost of possible property damage.
Minimum Age for Firearm Purchase or Transfer (HB 1543)
In 2018, a 19-year-old killed 17 people and injured 17 more in a mass shooting at a school. In response to this massacre, the minimum age to purchase firearms was raised to 21. However, the Criminal Justice Subcommittee of the Florida House recently approved a bill to reduce the age to purchase or transfer a long gun from 21 to 18 years old. The House and the Senate are yet to vote on the bill.
Display of Flags by Governmental Entities (HB 1011)
This bill proposes to limit the kinds of flags that may be flown on government buildings. Though it may seem innocuous at first, the Courier Newsroom publication reported that it specifically excludes the LGBTQ Pride flag. A Republican senator has also recently proposed an amendment to the bill requesting the confederate flag to be removed from the list of banned flags.
The Landlord Protection Act (SB 102)
To borrow words from the proposed bill itself, this bill serves to, “the authority of local governments to adopt or maintain laws, ordinances, rules or other measures that would have the effect of imposing control on rents.” Put simply, the Republicans want to make it impossible for the government to regulate rents, even during times of emergency.
Public PreK-12 Educational Institution and Instruction Requirements (HB 1223)
This bill expands the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by DeSantis. It would institute a ban on any discussions of sexual orientation in classrooms until 8th grade. This bill would apply to charter schools and public schools. It will also regulate the use of pronouns in schools.
Florida’s governor DeSantis is pushing an aggressively conservative agenda, forcing Florida to slide back on the years of progress made in education, gender, and race. Victor Torres Jr., the Democratic Senator from Boricua has warned that these bills are “dangerous”. US Rep. Maxwell Frost has also warned that these bills reflect DeSantis’ fascist tendencies.
According to Thomas Kennedy, a member of the Democratic National Committee, the Florida legislature is no more than “a body controlled by Republicans for over two decades [that] has ceased to function as an independent body and instead serves as a rubber stamp for Ron DeSantis.”