By JEFFREY SCHWEERS | firstname.lastname@example.org | Orlando Sentinel
TALLAHASSEE – Florida lawmakers kicked off the last week of the regular legislative session Monday by completing the terms of a $116 billion budget and advancing several highly conservative measures that reflect Gov. Ron DeSantis’ agenda as he considers a run for president in 2024.
Those bills include a crackdown on the state’s 800,000 undocumented immigrants and tougher consequences for the people and nonprofits that help them, a dismantling of efforts to increase diversity, equity and inclusion at the state’s universities and colleges, and a “medical conscience” bill that would allow health care practitioners to deny medical treatment such as transgender care on moral and religious grounds.
This is also the time when several bills that are in jeopardy will either die or make an 11th-hour comeback. Those include a measure making it easier to sue the news media over stories and lowering the age a person can buy a rifle from 21 to 18.
The $116 billion budget is $1 billion more than what Gov. Ron DeSantis requested. It’s $3 billion more than the House’s proposed $113 billion and the Senate’s starting point of $113.7 billion.
It’s also $6 billion more than the current budget, which ends June 30.
“It’s a lot,” Senate Appropriations Chair Doug Broxson, R-Gulf Breeze, said during a press conference Monday with Senate President Kathleen Passidomo.