It is not uncommon for governors to veto legislation. But no governor has used his veto with the same poise and purpose as Ron DeSantis. That goal was not just to do the right thing every now and then, but to show fellow Republicans in the legislature who’s boss.
in his last round of vetoes last week, DeSantis sounded the death knell for another priority of legislative leaders. It was a victory for a governor who established himself as the ubiquitous figure in state politics. It was also a win for taxpayers and local governments at risk pay for expensive lawsuits.
Senate Bill 620 would have castrated the ability of cities and counties to govern themselves. The legislation allowed some companies to sue local governments to recover lost profits for up to seven years if the loss was the result of a local ordinance or citizens’ initiative.
This “pro-business” legislation was so vague it would open the floodgates to frivolous lawsuits — a consequence DeSantis alluded to in his veto. Local authorities can up to $900 million per yearwhich, according to Florida TaxWatch, may be driving up taxes on citizens and the same businesses the bill was supposed to protect.
“The broad and ambiguous language of the bill will lead to both unintended and unforeseen consequences and costly lawsuits,” DeSantis wrote.
This bill was the dream come true for economic interests that lobbied Tallahassee to prevent local governments from regulating everything from cruises to sunscreen to natural gas hookups, plastic straws and single-use plastic bags. It would have effectively killed many local environmental ordinances and even attempts to regulate bar hours and stop the sale of pets. of unscrupulous puppy mills† That’s why the governor’s office has tried unsuccessfully to amend the bill to exempt rules that support animal welfare.
Some may rightly see the irony of DeSantis’ veto against SB 620 after last year attacking and limiting local governments’ ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, he has forbidden them to impose mask mandates. DeSantis, for his part, wrote, “The better approach is to enact targeted preemption legislation” rather than a blanket preemption like SB 620.
As principled as DeSantis is, he is also calculating. This is the fourth time DeSantis has dismissed Senate President Wilton Simpson by killing part of his legislative agenda.
DeSantis previously vetoed a bill pushed by Simpson and Florida Power & Light the expansion slowed down of solar energy on the roof. He ignored some of the $331 million in agricultural projects that Simpson was trying to include in the state budget — and which he would control if he were elected agriculture commissioner this fall. The governor also vetoed another Simpson-backed bill that would have forced the state to give farmers priority access to water from Lake Okeechobee. DeSantis and environmentalists say the bill would hurt the Everglades restoration, a priority he campaigned for in 2018.
This could be the governor keeping his campaign promises. But it is also a message to legislators who are out of step.
Earlier this year, Simpson and the Speaker of the House objected to DeSantis’ attempt to force them to pass a Congressional realignment card that favored Republicans. DeSantis vetoed the approved card lawmakers, forcing them to go back to Tallahassee to approve his plan. Politico reported: in February that tensions were high between DeSantis and Simpson over the Senate’s unwillingness to approve the governor’s high-profile priorities.
DeSantis is on a mission to shape Florida the way any governor would, and he’s on track to wield power like no other governor before him. Rogues and opponents are either tamed – or crushed.