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Florida’s 2023 Legislative Session begins with lawmakers emphasizing on education changes

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After Gov. Ron DeSantis’ State of the State Address on the first day of the 2023 Florida Legislative Session on Tuesday, multiple proposals will be brought forth within the next couple of months. From bills dealing with issues on immigration to abortion, the one thing lawmakers agree on is education changes.

Bobby Payne (R) is the Florida Representative for District 20. One of the things he’s looking to push for — like his colleagues — is better access to education for families across the state.

“Well, we heard the governor today in his comments in the joint session as to where Florida stands,” Rep. Payne said. “We want to continue to make sure that we are No. 1 in all those categories. And education and pro of choice of education is certainly at the top of the list.”

However, Republican legislators are also working to squeeze in other proposals within the reform, such as limiting teachings of diversity, equity, inclusion and critical race theory in public schools.

“I think we should not limit it to a central point of view,” District 21 Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson (D) said. “If there are several points of views, we need to offer both points of views to our students and allow them to do some critical thinking skills.”

Other efforts such as the possibility of regulating city utility companies like Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) are also on the table.

Florida Sen. Keith Perry (R) said he hopes it could help the city commission reconsider going into heavy-debt contracts.

“I’m your state senator; I don’t know what they’re paying,” Perry said. “I don’t know what they are buying the energy for. That’s not the way government should deal with a big corporation, and not let the public know? That’s our city commission.”

Hinson said, regardless, state government should not meddle in as it is beginning to affect the community.

“What is going to happen with GRU if this super-majority decides to move a different way?" Hinson said. "That’s a critical issue for our community because it needs to remain in the hands of the people, even if the people need to do something differently about it."

As a super-minority, she said it will be hard to get some the of Democrats' bills heard, especially in regard to gun reform — as Republicans like Rep. Payne are working to reduce the minimum age to purchase a gun in the state of Florida.

“It’s hard to put the sense to the fact that we can put an 18-year-old as a solider in a foreign country, but he can’t legally buy a gun,” Payne said.

Camila is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.
Christopher is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.