‘Florida Is No. 1’ DeSantis Tells Legislature During State of the State Speech

Dan M. Berger
By Dan M. Berger
March 7, 2023Politics

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told the same story to state lawmakers on March 7 that he’s been telling nearly every day since he took the oath of office in January at the beginning of his second term.

But this time, the presumed presidential candidate got to tell it to a joint session of the Florida Legislature, plus his cabinet, and the state’s Supreme Court justices.

“My duty under the [Florida] Constitution is to inform the legislature concerning the condition of the state and to recommend measures in the public interest.

“Well, as we used to do in the military, here’s the bluff. The bottom line up front: Florida is No. 1. And working together, we will ensure that Florida remains the No. 1 state in these United States.”

Giving his annual State of the State address on the first day of the legislative session, DeSantis followed with a long list of ways in which Florida leads the country. Much of that list named work his administration did, and the positions he took, in his first term.

“Florida is the fastest-growing state in the nation. We ranked No. 1 for net in-migration. We ranked No. 1 in the nation for new business formations. We are No. 1 in economic growth among large states,” he told the assembled leaders of state government.

“Florida has more people employed today than before the pandemic. Our unemployment rate is one of the lowest on record and it is significantly lower than the national average.

“And of course, as many of you know in this room, the last two years we’ve seen the largest budget surpluses in the history of the State of Florida.

“We do that with having the lowest per-capita state tax and lowest per-capita state debt burdens amongst all large states. We ranked No. 1 in the nation in tourism and we just experienced yet another record-breaking year for visitors to the Sunshine State.

“We are No. 1 in law enforcement recruitment and support. Florida’s crime rate stands at a 50-year low.”

“We ranked No. 1 in the nation for education freedom. We ranked No. 1 in the nation for parental involvement in education. We ranked No. 1 in fourth-grade reading and math amongst all large states and we have the No. 1 public higher-education system in the country.

“We are No. 1 amongst large states for the quality of our roads. And Florida has the top three cruise ports in the entire world. We ranked No. 1 for space-related development, manufacturing, and flight.

“And maybe most famously, we ranked No. 1 for protections of our citizens against the biomedical security state, from prohibiting ‘job-or-jab’ mandates, to banning vaccine passports, to ensuring hospital visitation rights.”

DeSantis talked up the state’s quick reaction to repair bridges and a causeway knocked out during Hurricane Ian.

One bridge reopened in three days. A critical causeway to Sanibel Island reopened in three weeks, after the storm cut it in three places. It had been predicted it would take six months to fix it, he said.

DeSantis has touted most of these points at his nearly daily public appearances, each highlighting a different area of policy his administration has been addressing.

Stories from Floridians

Also familiar from his press conferences were Florida residents, who attended the speech to highlight various policy measures. Most already had appeared by his side at the podium at least once.

One was a woman sexually assaulted by an illegal immigrant who broke into her house. DeSantis has proposed heightened law-enforcement measures against illegal immigration.

Another was a woman from the Fort Myers area whose home had been seriously damaged during Hurricane Ian.

DeSantis complained the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was slow to provide her with a trailer. So the state formed its own program for hurricane victims.

The woman now lives in the trailer on her property while fixing her house.

An officer from the Cape Coral Police Department appeared. He’d claimed one of the touted $5,000 signing bonuses for law enforcement officers recruited from other states. She’d hailed from Montgomery County, Maryland, DeSantis said.

He also featured a man who’d taken advantage of the state’s training program for truck drivers; a woman who’d quit teaching 5th grade, but returned when DeSantis raised teachers’ salaries; and a recent graduate from the state’s beefed-up nursing education program.

DeSantis said the state’s $2 billion tax-cut package, the largest in state history, would help families find relief from inflation.

“By permanently eliminating sales tax on all baby supplies, diapers, wipes, clothes, cribs, strollers, we will be able to say that, in Florida, having a child will be tax-free. We are proud to be pro-family and we are proud to be pro-life in the state of Florida,” he said.

20 Highway Projects

He mentioned the state’s $7 billion project to speed up 20 large highway projects, making it possible to finish them in four years, key in handling the state’s rapid growth.

And he touched on a housing initiative he’ll be working with Senate Majority Leader Kathleen Passidomo to pass.

DeSantis called for the permanent extension of citizen protections against “the biomedical security state,” protections enacted during the pandemic but set to expire in July 2023.

“It’s important that we make all of these protections permanent,” he said to lawmakers. “Protection from medical authoritarianism did not have an expiration date in the Free State of Florida.”

He called for greater protections against children being used as “guinea pigs for science experimentation, and we cannot allow people to make money mutilating them.”

Stopping CCP Buying Land

He referred to the controversial practice of allowing transgender surgery and hormone therapy to be performed on children, then pointed to Chloe Cole, a young detransitioner who has begged lawmakers to put an end to such treatments.

“[She] is now a young adult, but she was receiving puberty blockers at age 13,” DeSantis said of Cole. “And she underwent a double mastectomy at age 16. She’s now an advocate against allowing these procedures for our children.”

He thanked Cole for her bravery and called for the legislature to heed her advice.

NTD Photo
Chloe Cole tearfully shares her detransition journey in Anaheim, Calif., on Oct. 8, 2022. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

DeSantis advocated stricter measures against fentanyl trafficking and said Florida isn’t one of those states quickly returning criminals to the street after an arrest.

He talked of steps the state has taken against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), including shutting down the CCP-supported Confucius Institutes on college campuses across the state.

And he heralded his proposal to stop the CCP, or businesses tied to it, from buying land in Florida.

Does Not Back Registering Bloggers

Fielding questions from reporters afterward, DeSantis distanced himself from a bill introduced by a Republican legislator that would require bloggers to register with the government.

Media reports had tied him to that, he said, “and I’m like, OK, that’s not anything that I’ve ever supported. I don’t support it.”

Legislators have the right to file bills, he said, and “I don’t control every single bill that has been filed.”

DeSantis has proposed sweeping tort-reform measures that would make it harder to sue in Florida and would lessen the state’s reputation, he said, as a particularly litigious one for businesses.

But he said he was also aware “there were some bad actors with some of the COVID stuff in the medical profession” and didn’t want to harm damaged parties’ ability to go to court for those.

“I think there was a real, real reluctance to come to terms with the actual evidence,” he said. “And I think that they were doing things, even to this day, some of these things like [COVID-19 treatment drug] remdesivir. I don’t think that there’s a great foundation for that.”

“Are we really going to be saying that people who may have been harmed by this aren’t going to be able to [sue)]?”

‘You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet’

“Now’s not the time to rest on our laurels,” DeSantis said as he wrapped up his speech.

“We have the opportunity, and indeed the responsibility, to swing for the fences, so that we can ensure Florida remains No. 1.

“Don’t worry about the chattering class. Ignore all the background noise. Keep the compass set to true north.

“We will stand strong. We will hold the line. We won’t back down. And I can promise you this: You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

From The Epoch Times

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