2021 Legislative Report: Building Power in our Communities

June 8, 2021

Over the last year, we rode an emotional, economic, and healthcare roller coaster together. We experienced loss throughout the COVID pandemic and at the hands of the police. We also experienced a dangerous, white supremacist insurrection at the U.S. Capitol spurred by former President Trump and lawmakers who refused to acknowledge the results of the 2020 presidential election.

We dealt with fundamental attacks on our democracy in legislatures across the country, including in Florida. Over the course of 60 days, Gov. Ron DeSantis and his allies forced through laws that criminalize peaceful protesters and shield counter-protesters from civil liability for killing or injuring a demonstrator. They also enacted voter suppression schemes that will make it harder for Floridians to vote by mail and will disproportionately impact Black, elderly, mobility-impaired, student and veteran voters; and they callously discriminated against transgender girls by banning them from playing on sports teams that align with their gender identity.

The cruelty we witnessed during the 2021 legislative session highlights the fundamental disconnect between Florida elected officials and the people. The more that Floridians express and champion their ideals, the more politicians in Tallahassee work to enact legislation to undermine the power of our communities.

What we know at the ACLU of Florida is that, in these challenging times, our work is more critical and necessary than ever, and it may be some of the most important work we have engaged in over the last decade. This work includes engaging directly with communities closest to the issues and reimagining solutions to the problems that plague our state. It also includes strategizing daily with our partners and stakeholders to empower people to make their voices heard, to change the civil liberties landscape in Florida, and make our state truly a place where all Floridians can thrive.

We saw firsthand over the 60-day legislative session how much Floridians care about improving and advancing our democracy. Despite all efforts to thwart our voices, the commitment in our communities to change the political and social landscape of Florida is stronger than ever and will prevail.  

The 2021 Florida legislative session created more challenges than solutions, but the movement continues undeterred. We will not stop until Florida is a place of opportunity for all. Along with our supporters and partners, we will continue to work toward and achieve a Florida we can all believe in.

2021 Legislative Report: Building Power in our Communities