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Shock and Law, Hot Topics Recap

Dean Johnson | Published on 5/11/2023

2023 Hot Topics May Shock & Law Legislative Debrief

The LWVOC Hot Topics “Shock and Law: Florida Voters Face Elections Consequences” on May 10 focused on bills passed this year by the Florida Legislature. After the panel discussion, former LWVOC president Gloria Pickar asked a pertinent question during the Q&A segment: What are we to do?
Ms. Pickar wanted to get the Hot Topics panelists’ take on what the League specifically, and concerned Florida voters generally, could do about controversial laws passed by a Republican supermajority Legislature and signed by a governor who is likely running for president in 2024.
Panelists Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel, Christopher Heath of WFTV, LaToya Dennis of WMFE and multimedia investigative journalist Jason Garcia offered some advice: Get to know your local politicians and officials; be informed and involved; engage with friends and register new voters.
So, what did the 2023 Legislature do? Among other things, Florida lawmakers:
1) made it harder for third-party voter registration groups (such as the League) to register voters;
2) got rid of the resign-to-run regulation and access to the governor’s travel expenses and visitor logs;
3) targeted the LGBTQ and transgender communities (more than 20 bills passed, including one banning gender-affirming care for kids);
4) passed tort reform making it harder for property owners to sue insurance companies;
5) made K-12 school voucher programs universal;
6) approved putting a proposal making school board races partisan on the 2024 ballot;
7) established a near-ban on abortions that is detrimental to women’s health;
8) preempted local laws and invalidated tenants’ rights provisions;
9) authorized carry of concealed weapons without background checks or training, and
10) targeted Disney for its opposition to the “don’t say gay” bills.
Many of these laws will be challenged in the courts. Moderator Patti Brigham ended the session with the plea, “Support our media watchdogs!”
The League’s closing speaker to the event, Lee Rambeau, reminded the audience that they must always be voter ready, that voter registration information must be current, encouraged everyone to have a new vote-by-mail request submitted to the supervisor of elections, and to be diligent in responding to calls to action on proposed bills and remaining informed by reading LWVFL’s Capitol Reports.
That is the work of LWVOC members: Empower voters and defend democracy.
Q: Panelists, how can we help right now?
A: Educate yourself and read, watch, listen to our newscasts.

LaToya Dennis WMFE

Christopher Heath, WFTV

Skyler Swisher, Orlando Sentinel

Jason Garcia
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