TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Following a controversial and consequential legislative session, Gov. Ron DeSantis estimated Friday that there "wasn't much meat left on the bone" for future assemblies.
Lawmakers filed more than 1,800 bills filed this year. Sixty days later, 337 of them cleared both chambers. Some, potentially creating a path for DeSantis to reach the White House.
"We passed so many meaningful pieces of legislation in the best interest of all of our constituents," Sen. President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, said.
The year's big bills include the following:
- $117 billion budget, the largest in state history
- Six-week abortion ban
- Near billion-dollar affordable housing plan
- Universal school vouchers
- Tort reform and so many more
"The one word I would put on this session is 'epic,'" Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, said. "As you stated — we came in here with the supermajority, and that's a mandate."
Republicans used that power to also greenlight almost all the governor's big goals, among them including:
- Limits on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in higher education
- More Disney provisions
- Stricter enforcement of immigration law
- Permit-less concealed carry
- And easier access to the death penalty
"What's next for me?" asked DeSantis when he was posed the question about a potential White House bid. "To go through the budget they just passed."
DeSantis continued to swat down questions over whether he was running during a post-session news conference. Eventually, though, he did say this:
"I've always said we're going to see this through, and that's what we're going to do," DeSantis said. "What happens in the future — look people will — we'll get on that relatively soon. You either got to put up or shut up on that as well, so we'll see."
DeSantis' GOP colleagues told us any conservative could benefit nationally by having their name attached to this year's slate of bills. State Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, went further with that statement.
"I think it would be political malpractice if the governor does not put his hat in the ring for president," Roach said. "I think he's got to. Florida is having a moment. The governor's having a moment. He needs to capitalize on that."
Florida Democrats, meanwhile, launched a new advertisement attacking the governor's potential White House run, while others warned this year's session would hurt more Floridians than it would help.
House Minority Leader Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, said the Legislature missed a chance to address things like affordability.
"If I were to put a theme around it, I would say it was anti-freedom," she said. "Rather than focusing on those issues — lowering health care costs for example — the GOP just wanted to pass culture war bills."
There was plenty of bipartisanship too. Of the more than 300 bills approved this year, lawmakers estimated around 80% of them received wide-bipartisan support.