TALLAHASSEE, FL – The 2023 Florida Legislative Session was one of the most authoritarian legislative sessions in state history, defined by government overreach and abuse of power and placing Floridians’ freedoms at risk. At the direction of Gov. DeSantis, the state legislature passed bill after bill taking away civil liberties for women, LGBTQ+ youth and families, students, faculty, people arrested and incarcerated in this state, immigrants, and protesters exercising their First Amendment rights.
These bills included banning abortions after six weeks, creating an unaccountable private police force for the governor, reintroducing unconstitutional non-unanimous juries for death penalty recommendations, censoring and intimidating students and faculty for engaging in speech with which lawmakers personally disagree, further prohibiting conversations related to LGBTQ+ people and their lives in schools, limiting immigrants’ ability to live safely in Florida, suppressing free speech, and allowing medical professionals to deny medical services due to personal beliefs.
While lawmakers were passing unconstitutional, anti-democratic bills to fight a one-sided culture war, Floridians were enduring a housing crisis, a cost-of-living crisis, higher gas prices, and disastrous flooding.
Tiffani Lennon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, stated the following in response to the end of the 2023 session:
“During this year’s legislative session, we witnessed once again Governor DeSantis and his allies stripping Floridians of their civil rights and liberties, prioritizing an extreme tactic of government overreach and abuse of power, censoring speech, and harming Floridians. Our elected officials had the opportunity to pass laws that could have improved lives. Instead, they decided to prioritize bills that target and attack Florida’s most vulnerable communities including immigrant and LGBTQ+ families, suppress our right to vote, limit our freedom of speech and right to autonomous decisions in health care, and much more. None of these bills will make Florida a better or safer place to live.”
“All Floridians and all Americans should be outraged by how easily the legislature stripped people of their rights, focusing their efforts on censoring our classrooms, controlling people’s bodies, limiting our right to vote, and creating the Governor’s own personal army by diverting over $100 million in taxpayer dollars to build, equip, and train a Florida State Guard of 1,500 people to serve at the sole discretion and direction of the governor, including an armed specialized unit with the authority to apprehend and make arrests. The impact these bills are already having and will continue to have on our communities is devastating, and the fact that these harms are coming from the hands of our own government is outrageous.”
“This legislative session strayed far from what makes Florida a beautiful place to live. Our elected officials are not representing the will of the people, and that needs to change. We have a long journey ahead. Our hearts will continue to be with all Floridians impacted by this session, and we will continue fighting for everyone’s constitutional rights, together.”