Democrats’ attempt to amend ‘anti-riot bill’ fails

House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee. Photo courtesy thefloridachannel

After the first week of Florida’s legislative session lawmakers will now focus on HB 1 and SB 484, Combating Public Disorder. The bills — also known as anti-riot legislation, and a high priority for Gov. Ron DeSantis — are aimed at cracking down on violent protests with harsh penalties for those who participate in such acts.

In last week’s meeting of the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, Rep. Juan Fernandez-Barquin explained the bill to the committee and recognized that the bill will in the long run cost the state money.

“There is a potential increase in jail beds and prison beds as a result of the bill,” Barquin, a Republican from Miami-Dade County, said.

Democrat Rep. Micheal Gottlieb made a strong statement about law enforcement and had a question for Barquin.

“I wanted this to be stated and to be clear. I don’t even understand what defunding the police means,” Gottlieb said. “I’m not in favor of defunding the police but if a municipality decides to reorganize how they want to spend law enforcement money, so they decide to move to behavioral training or community-based training as opposed to putting more officers on the road, is that going to be viewed as obstructing or interfering with the ability of a municipality to provide reasonable law enforcement?”

Barquin responded by stating that it depends on the budget.

“That’s a wonderful question and what I would respond is that it comes down to whether or not it would be within the operating budget,” Barquin said. “With the way the bill reads is that it will be a reduction in the operating budget.”

Democrat Rep. Patricia Williams simply doesn’t agree with HB 1.

“House Bill 1 is an over-reach,” Williams said. “These laws already exist and because of the deficit that we have in the state of Florida and also take away local officials authority.”

She instead proposed an amendment in place of the bill.

“This amendment will delete the entire bill and provide a creation of the Florida commission of combating public disorder,” Williams said. “The goal is for the commission to create a study for public disorder including functions for influencing public disorder and provide a report annually on the functions including legislative proposals to address the root cause of the public disorder. The commission will be created of 28 members chosen from the speaker, the house, the president of senate, attorney general, the governor, the chief financial office, commission of agriculture, minority leaders and the House of Representatives. This will be a term of four years which will not cause a fiscal impact to the state of Florida.”

The subcommittee voted on the bill and the amendment failed.

The Senate committee will meet today to further discuss SB 484.