DeSantis to lay out 2022 agenda in State of the State speech

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual leadership...
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual leadership meeting at The Venetian hotel-casino on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Las Vegas. DeSantis is preparing to deliver the last State of the State speech of his first term, on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, as he seeks reelection and a possible 2024 presidential run.(Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, File)
Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 7:49 AM CST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is likely to outline a largely conservative agenda in his State of the State speech Tuesday, his last of his first term as he seeks reelection and eyes a possible 2024 presidential run.

He’ll likely outline proposals ranging from attempts to prevent schools and businesses from teaching critical race theory to keeping undocumented immigrants from settling in Florida.

While three major Democrats are seeking to challenge DeSantis in November — Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and state Sen. Annette Taddeo — the governor has paid little attention to them.

Instead, DeSantis has focused his criticism on Democratic President Joe Biden and the media, particularly when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. DeSantis opposes COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates and often describes Florida as a place for freedom, not lockdowns.

In his first State of the State speech, DeSantis touted his action to posthumously pardon four Black men accused of raping a white woman in a 1949 case that’s now seen as a racial injustice.

This year, DeSantis wants a law banning schools from teaching critical race theory and allowing parents to sue if they do. He also wants to allow employees to be able to sue employers who use critical race theory as part of their training.

Critical race theory is a decades-old concept that holds that American institutions are still systemically racist despite the removal of structural barriers during the Civil Rights era. Conservatives say it divides society by defining people as oppressors and oppressed based on their race, and that it teaches white people to believe they are inherently racist.

Among other things on the governor’s to do list: Spend nearly $6 million to create a law enforcement office dedicated to investigating election fraud, even though there’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud. DeSantis has said the 2020 presidential election went smoothly in Florida.

Other priorities for DeSantis include $1,000 bonuses for teachers and first responders and a gas tax holiday, which he says will save drivers $1 billion.

The speech marks the first day of the annual 60-day legislative session. Lawmakers need to pass a state budget and redraw political maps in the once-a-decade redistricting process. More than 3,000 bills have been filed ahead of the session.

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