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Outnumbered, Democrats lash against GOP agenda out ahead of legislative session

"With all of this culture war nonsense, we are wasting everyone’s time," said Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — With just hours to go before the start of Florida’s legislative session, Democrats are blasting Republicans for what they call a culture war-based agenda.

They say their GOP colleagues plan to introduce a number of bills that democrats say ignore real issues facing Floridians.

“With all of this culture war nonsense, we are wasting everyone’s time,” said Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa. “And Floridians are still crying out for help with real problems. Like the affordability crisis. Property insurance, ranch, home prices, utilities, auto insurance, health care.”

Driskell and ranking Democratic member Kelly Skidmore of Boca Raton accused GOP lawmakers of pushing legislation that’s in some cases likely to be found unconstitutional but furthers what they see as Gov. Ron DeSantis' political ambitions.

“Just more culture wars,” Driskell said. “Stoking the flames and trying to inflame Ron DeSantis’s base and get them energized and ginned up in advance of the 2024 primary.”

Democrats acknowledge they are outnumbered this session, facing a Republican supermajority. They hope the public will apply political pressure where they can’t.

“It’s kind of a math problem, actually there’s 84 of them and 35 of us,” Skidmore said. “The court of public opinion does often weigh in. And as we go along and many of these policies become more and more and more extreme the public is starting to pay attention.”

Democrats specifically mentioned bills that would loosen the requirements for imposing the death penalty, interfere with gender affirmation care, and weaken gun training rules for concealed carry.

They also expect that bill will end up being rolled into a school safety measure.

“By tying it to a school safety bill it’s really disingenuous. It’s mean-spirited,” Driskell said. “Especially when they’re communities that are still trying to heal from the wounds of gun violence in the school.”

Democrats expect there will be a handful of issues where some Republicans agree with them, but they doubt many would be willing to take a public political stand if it means opposing DeSantis' agenda.

“Unfortunately, it’s the Ron DeSantis show,”  Driskell said. “We all know this.”

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