Last Friday, the Speaker of the House, Paul Renner, called a Special Session for the week of February 6, 2023. This Special Session deals with seven bills in an expedited manner that will affect the rights of millions of Floridians. SB 2, SB 4, and SB 6-B stood out to us because of the impact they will have on our work. Here we outline how these bills, while diverse in scope, touch our pillars of climate and democracy.
Regarding the climate, SB 2 was introduced to provide financial assistance to local governments that suffered the impacts of Hurricanes Ian and Nicole. However, it does not address the main causes of climate change nor provide effective solutions to mitigate its impacts. FCV has raised this issue in our request for the creation of a Joint Select Committee on Climate Change, suggesting to both legislative leaders to have a holistic approach to climate change instead of temporary solutions to the problem. Almost 700 of our members contacted House Speaker Renner and Senate President Passidomo. We will continue to insist that they consider our request. Join them by sending your email today.
Democracy is one of the most important pillars of our work at Florida Conservation Voters. We build political power to protect our environment, protect our democracy, and create a healthy and sustainable future for everyone. We hold accountable those who are in power, and we will continue to do so. Both SB 4 and SB 6 aim at continuing the divisive cultural war that Governor Ron DeSantis has promoted since becoming our governor. These attacks destabilize our democracy. We will continue to work hard in collaboration with our partners to stop these actions.
In case you missed it, SB 6 creates a program to transport migrants within the United States and discriminates against them regardless of their status in this country. Although current federal law allows for immigrants to apply for asylum, this bill disregards current federal law that provides certain protections for immigrants as they take steps to adjust their immigration status. Several federal laws and presidential executive orders currently protect this right. Read our press statement on this unconstitutional and inhumane program proposal.
SB 4 authorizes the Office of Statewide Prosecution to investigate and prosecute crimes involving voting in an election for a federal or state office, targeting specific sectors in the population and limiting their right to vote. Last year, this had a very chilling effect on the voter participation rate of members of historically marginalized communities. Some would argue that this was the intended effect that the legislature, through this bill, tried to expand and further disenfranchise Black and Latino voters and curtail democracy as we know it.
FCV’s unique policy perspective of protecting both the environment and democracy makes us a unique partner with other in-state and national organizations like the Farmworker Association of Florida, ACLU of Florida, the Florida Immigrant Coalition, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Florida For All, Advancement Project, the NAACP, the Brennan Center and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to name a few. Please, join us in collaborating with our partners, and follow these organizations’ work to support their efforts in saving democracy.
This blog post was written by our Climate and Clean Energy Advocate, Bethzaida Olivera, and Chispa Program Director, Denise Lugo.