Republicans and DeSantis big winners as Florida’s 2021 legislative session wraps up

The 2021 legislative session has concluded in Tallahassee.

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – After passing next year’s fiscal state budget, $100-billion plus, Florida lawmakers adjourned Friday at 2:40 p.m. The session had a definite downside. Lawmakers made it hard to vote, imposed stiff penalties on demonstrators and transgender girls won’t be able to play school sports.

But here’s the good news, lawmakers didn’t raise your taxes.

Then, they dropped the ceremonial hankies that mark the end of the session and called it quits.

“I think today and what’s been achieved in this session, says that this next year 2021 the state of Florida has come roaring back,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

Adjournment was a relief for Democrats, who had few wins, and a victory celebration for Republicans, who had many.

They rewrote the states election laws overall making it harder to vote. Democrats call it voter suppression. Vote by mail ballots must be applied for in each election cycle and only two mail-in ballots from non-family members are allowed.

Drop boxes will be open only during early voting and candidates won’t be able to hand out food or water within 150 feet of a polling.

DeSantis was the star last night on a Fox News Special bragging about a law that cracks down on high-tech media companies.

“We cannot allow the discourse in our country to be controlled be leftist oligarchs in Silicon Valley,” he told host Laura Ingraham.

He’ll also sign the bill banning trans girl athletes from playing school sports.

“We are going to protect our girls,” he said to a cheering crowd. “I have a four-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old daughter. They are both very athletic and we want to have opportunities for our girls. They deserve to have an even playing field,” he said.

In Tallahassee, the playing field titled toward the Republican majority. They reversed a vote by Key West restricting cruise ships. The owner of the main Key West dock gave the governor nearly a million dollars.

Demonstrations like the ones last summer now carry much stiffer penalties on DeSantis’ anti-riot law.

And no vaccine passports are allowed. The governor got the legislature to outlaw them.

The big winner in the legislative session was DeSantis. He got everything he wanted and then some and he is calling lawmakers back.

They return to formalize a gambling agreement he’s put together with the Seminole tribe. If he pulls that off, he’s almost unbeatable in 2022 in his bid to be re-elected governor.

About the Authors:

Michael Putney came to Local 10 in 1989 to become senior political reporter and host of "This Week In South Florida with Michael Putney." He is Local 10's senior political reporter. 

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local