TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News Services) – Governor Ron DeSantis’ top legislative priority, increasing penalties for violent protestors, continues to draw protesters to the Capitol, but the legislation may be in trouble because of a lack of support from law enforcement.
Three dozen people opposing tougher penalties for protestors who cross the line into violence were at the Capitol Thursday.
“DeSantis’s anti-protest bill attempts threatens us into submission with ridiculous prison sentences. That’s what I call fear,” FSU student Jalen Blocker said.
But inside the building, the legislation is stalled. With the session a third over, Gov. DeSantis’ top priority has yet to get a hearing in the Senate.
Criminal Justice Chair Jason Pizzo won’t talk about it
“Stuff on my committee I don’t comment,” Pizzo said.
When asked about the lack of a hearing Gov. DeSantis laughed when we asked if he was worried.
“Are we going to be prepared to respond appropriately and protect our people? And I think the House believes that we will. I think the majority of the Senate believe that,” DeSantis said.
Rep. Jeff Brandes, a Republican from Pinellas County who is vice chair under Pizzo, isn’t so sure.
“I just don’t know they have the votes on that committee,” said Brandes. “They are either going to pare the bill down to something that is acceptable and they can get the votes for, or it will continue to be reviewed.”
When pressed if the governor would let lawmakers go home without passing the legislation.
“Oh, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue. I think they know they are going to have to do it. So, it’s not a question if I let them go home. What would their voters do if they went home without doing it? I know our voters would be very upset,” said DeSantis.
Every session ends with the most important bills being horse traded.
For the Governor the question is how much political capital is he willing to spend as the Democratic Caucus in the Florida House voted Thursday to oppose the House version of the bill.
That means all 42 Democrats will likely vote no. There are 78 GOP members in the House.