DeSantis’ energy is on full show as he pushes lawmakers on Disney and redistricting

Updated April 21, 2022 at 7:22 PM ET

After months of forwards and backwards, lawmakers in Florida have handed Gov. Ron DeSantis’ controversial congressional district voting map — and have pushed ahead his last-minute plan to scrap Disney World’s particular regulatory standing within the state.

It’s a transparent show of the Republican governor’s energy, nearly six months earlier than he is on the poll for reelection. But Democratic lawmakers resisted his congressional map till the ultimate moments, staging a sit-in on the ground earlier than the ultimate vote.

“When Black votes are under attack, what do we do? Stand up. Fight back,” members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus shouted as Republican lawmakers filed out and Democrats started their protest. “We will occupy this floor. We will not be denied.”

The map will give Republicans a 20-8 seat benefit in a state the place registered Democratic and Republican voters are practically equal in quantity. It may even remove two congressional districts held by African American Democrats: Rep. Al Lawson of Tallahassee and Rep. Val Demings of Orlando.

State GOP lawmakers handed the governor’s map about two days after taking it up. No adjustments to the drawing have been made.

Democrats blasted the map as unconstitutional and admonished GOP lawmakers for acquiescing to the governor on that and on the governor’s transfer to remove a decades-old governing district arrange for Disney World and close by properties.

Disney’s particular standing revoked

As the particular session for redistricting kicked off on Tuesday, DeSantis amended the agenda to incorporate two last-minute payments involving Disney.

The transfer got here after weeks of battling between Republican leaders and Disney over a brand new legislation that restricts instruction about gender id and sexual orientation in colleges. Formally it is referred to as the Parental Rights in Education legislation, however critics have dubbed it the “don’t say gay” legislation.

One of the brand new payments handed this week dissolves Disney’s particular impartial district standing. That’s a 1967 provision that permits the corporate to gather taxes and concern bonds. It additionally exempts the park from practically all state laws. The different invoice eliminates a social media carveout for theme parks following a 2021 legislation geared toward punishing sure platforms that ban political candidates.

In March, DeSantis slammed Disney for popping out in opposition to the Parental Rights in Education legislation. “I think that crossed the line. This state is governed by the interests of the people of the state of Florida. It is not based on the demands of California corporate executives,” he stated.

Senate President Wilton Simpson, additionally a Republican, stated the measures weren’t meant to penalize Disney. “We’re not looking for retaliation, we’re looking and saying this is an organization amongst others that have many powers that we do not believe they should have in 2022,” he stated.

But for some Republican committee members, the laws was clearly about Disney.

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“Shamefully, Disney betrayed us,” Republican Rep. Jackie Toledo stated, including that Disney had been “perverted by a woke mob of liberal extremists.”

Amid the shouts from House Democrats protesting congressional maps, Republicans pushed by way of the 2 payments geared toward Disney with out debate.

Democratic state Rep. Fentrice Diskrell says the governor is utilizing the legislature to take revenge on one firm for taking a stand.

“Disney did the right thing by speaking out in opposition to the horrible bill that is suppressing the stories of the LGBTQ community and their families,” she stated.

State Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat from Orlando, stated Republican House leaders steamrolled the payments ahead after halting debate as Democratic lawmakers continued protesting the governor’s map. “That is undemocratic,” Eskamani stated. “That is the tell-tale sign of a party drunk on power, and it’s how democracy dies.”

“It was never about good government. It was all about just being petty, being performative and trying to bully opposition into submission,” Eskamani stated.

Democrats’ protests

But it was the brand new congressional redistricting maps that obtained probably the most protest this week.

Voting rights teams, voters and members of the Florida Black Legislative Caucus rallied outdoors the state capitol on Tuesday earlier than lawmakers convened to go the governor’s map. Constituents who dwell in U.S. Reps. Lawson’s and Demings’ districts traveled to make their voices heard. “It’s unfair, unconstitutional, an attack on Black representation and injustice to Black voters,” stated Northside Coalition President Ben Frazier, who got here in a motorcade from Jacksonville to protest the map. Frazier describes the map as “a sham and a scam.”

DeSantis’ map expands U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn’s Republican district to cowl the Tallahassee space — together with Gadsden County, which has a majority Black inhabitants.

The protest on the ground was decried as an “insurrection” by GOP lawmakers. Republican House Speaker Chris Sprowls declined to talk with reporters, however stated in a press release that lawmakers who protested “decided to hijack the legislative process.”

State Rep. Driskell defined that members of the minority get together felt that they had no alternative however to protest. They got little time to evaluate and talk about the governor’s map with colleagues through the particular lawmaking session, which lasted somewhat over 48 hours.

“We did everything we could to approach it from a policy point and from the actual process and the rules. What happens when people don’t feel heard? Civil disobedience is a fundamental principle in this country.”

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