15-week abortion ban moves closer to law, Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses district disagreement with Senate

New congressional redistricting map passes by vote of 31-4
Posted at 9:20 AM, Jan 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-24 09:20:59-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A brewing battle over new congressional districts and a 15-week abortion ban got closer to becoming law in Florida this week.

Here's a recap of what you may have missed in Tallahassee this week.

GOP senators in a committee Tuesday approved a bill delivering the governor's war on critical race theory. SB 148 cleared its first committee hurdle with a party-line vote.

It prohibits corporate training and teaching of CRT, though not explicitly. Instead, it uses broad concepts like: "An individual should not be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race."

Sen. Manny Diaz speaks about his support the bill outlawing the teaching of CRT
Sen. Manny Diaz shares why he supports a bill outlawing the teaching of critical race theory.

"All of us are created equal, and we should be judged on our individual merits, our deeds," said Sen. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah Gardens, the bill's Senate sponsor. "Not a blanket statement, and I think that is the most important part of this bill on both ends."

Democrats called the bill unneeded and uneducated. They fear passage would chill race education in schools and the workplace.

"All this legislation is going to do is promote ignorance of race-related content," said Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-Miami Gardens. "There is no claim here in the state of Florida that teachers are teaching children that white people are inherently racist or that white people should feel ashamed because of past injustices."

Sen. Shevrin Jones shares his opposition to Senate Bill 148
Sen. Shevrin Jones shares his opposition to Senate Bill 148, saying it will "promote ignorance."

A House committee also gave Florida's 15-week abortion ban its first clearance. It makes exceptions for medical issues but not rape or incest.

Republicans passed the bill in another party-line vote despite objections from Democrats who call it an extreme hurdle to health care.

"What that's going to do is cause people to go have abortions that are unsafe," said Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa. "It's going to cause people to travel to other states. You won't be able to regulate human nature in that way."

HB 5 conflicts with Roe V. Wade, but advocates say it will ready the state if the landmark case is overturned. The U.S. Supreme Court is already reviewing a similar 15-week ban from Mississippi.

"I believe that we have a unique opportunity in the fact that the Supreme Court is considering 15 weeks right now," said Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach. "This would allow Florida to save as many babies as possible as soon as possible after that decision."

Rep. Erin Grall shares why she supports a 15-week abortion ban in Florida
Rep. Erin Grall shares why she supports a 15-week abortion ban in Florida.

Other bills advancing this week include:

  • SB 280/SB 620: Each would make it easier for businesses to challenge city or county ordinances
  • HB 1557: A policy limiting class discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity
  • SB 1006: A sweet bill making strawberry shortcake as the state dessert. Senators moved it to the full chamber Thursday 

Finally, senators passed, by a vote of 31-4, their version of the new congressional redistricting map. That came after weeks of review and discussion.

The map, however, conflicts with a version Gov. Ron DeSantis' office offered earlier this week, which better favors Republicans. The GOP leader said it addresses concerns his legal team has.

When asked about the disagreement Friday morning, DeSantis played things down but made note he has veto power over the final product.

"It requires my signature," said the governor. "We had lawyers that had concerns about what they were doing. That process will work itself out, and we'll be able to hopefully end up with a product that makes a lot of sense."

The Florida House has yet to offer its final version of the congressional districts. It will then need to be reconciled with the Senate's map and approved by both chambers before heading to the governor.