The Historic Capitol, foreground, and Florida Capitol buildings. Photo, Colin Hackley
And it’s a wrap on the 2019 legislative session – Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday signed into law the last of the 194 bills the Legislature sent him this year. The measure (HB 385) reorganizes the expressway authority for Miami-Dade County.
DeSantis affixed his signature to 189 bills and vetoed five. The Florida Constitution allows bills to pass into law without a governor’s signature if he doesn’t act within the deadline, but that didn’t happen this year.
The freeway bill was pitched as an answer to local frustrations about rising tolls and an unresponsive expressway bureaucracy.
Among the measures the governor signed into law were a state budget for the new fiscal year totaling around $91 billion; a program arming teachers in public schools (if local school boards agree); expanded tax-financed vouchers to send students to private schools; imposing financial barriers on felons seeking reinstatement of voting rights; a plan to import relatively cheaper prescription drugs from Canada; and a plan to run toll roads through some of the last undeveloped sections of the state.
DeSantis used his line-item veto to excise $131 million in local projects from the state budget. These were items he deemed properly functions of local governments, or that failed to meet a broad state purpose. That represented a relatively generous approach to local projects inserted at the behest of individual legislators. When asked why, DeSantis replied at the time that because the Legislature went along with so much of what he wanted, he saw no need for “retribution.”
Other targets of DeSantis vetoes were legislation to print Florida Lottery tickets with stark warnings against gambling addiction; and a measure that would have forbidden local officials from banning single-use plastic straws.
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