Ronald Dion DeSantis (born September 14, 1978) is an American politician who has served as the 46th governor of Florida since 2019. Widely considered one of the most prominent members of the Republican Party, DeSantis represented Florida's 6th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2013 to 2018.
Born in Jacksonville, DeSantis spent most of his childhood in Dunedin, Florida. He graduated from Yale University and Harvard Law School. +more DeSantis joined the United States Navy in 2004 and was promoted to lieutenant before serving as an advisor to SEAL Team One; he was deployed to Iraq in 2007. When he returned to the U. S. a year later, the U. S. Department of Justice appointed DeSantis to serve as a Special Assistant U. S. attorney at the U. S. Attorney's Office in the Middle District of Florida, a position he held until his honorable discharge in 2010.
DeSantis was first elected to Congress in 2012, defeating his Democratic opponent Heather Beaven. During his tenure he became a founding member of the Freedom Caucus and was an ally of President Donald Trump. +more DeSantis frequently criticized Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U. S. presidential election. He briefly ran for U. S. Senate in 2016, but withdrew when incumbent senator Marco Rubio sought reelection. During his 2018 gubernatorial campaign, DeSantis emphasized his support of Trump. He won the Republican nomination in August, and chose state representative Jeanette Nuñez as his running mate. The close results of the general election between DeSantis and the Democratic nominee, Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, triggered a machine recount. DeSantis was certified the winner with a 0. 4% margin of victory. DeSantis is running for reelection in the 2022 Florida gubernatorial election against the Democratic nominee, Charlie Crist.
During the COVID-19 pandemic in Florida, DeSantis resisted imposing restrictions including face mask mandates, stay-at-home orders, and vaccination requirements. In May 2021, he signed into law a bill that prohibited businesses, schools, cruise ships, and government entities from requiring proof of vaccination. +more In March 2022, DeSantis signed into law the Parental Rights in Education Act, called the "Don't Say Gay" law by its opponents, which prohibits instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in public school classrooms from kindergarten to grade three.
Early life and education
DeSantis was born on September 14, 1978, in Jacksonville the son of Karen (née Rogers) and Ronald Daniel DeSantis. He is of Italian descent, with all of his great-grandparents born in Italy. +more His maternal great-great-grandfather Salvatore Storti immigrated to the United States from Italy in 1904, eventually settling in Pennsylvania. His great-great-grandmother Luigia Colucci joined her husband in the United States in 1917. DeSantis's mother was a nurse and his father installed Nielsen TV rating boxes. His family moved to Orlando, Florida, before relocating to Dunedin, Florida, when he was six years old. His sister Christina Marie DeSantis was born on May 5, 1985, in Orlando and died in 2015. He was a member of the Little League team from Dunedin National that made it to the 1991 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. DeSantis attended Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School and Dunedin High School, graduating in 1997.
After high school, DeSantis studied history at Yale University. He was captain of Yale's varsity baseball team and joined the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. +more He was an outfielder on the Yale baseball team; as a senior in 2001, he had the team's best batting average at . 336. While attending Yale he worked a variety of jobs, including as an electrician's assistant and a coach at a baseball camp. DeSantis graduated from Yale in 2001 with a B. A. magna cum laude. He taught history for a year at Darlington School. He attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 2005 with a Juris Doctor cum laude.
In 2004, during his second year at Harvard Law, DeSantis was commissioned an officer in the U. S. +more Navy and assigned to the Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG). He completed Naval Justice School in 2005. Later that year, he received orders to the JAG Trial Service Office Command South East at Naval Station Mayport, Florida, as a prosecutor. He was promoted from lieutenant, junior grade to lieutenant in 2006. He worked for the commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), working directly with detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Joint Detention Facility.
In 2007, DeSantis reported to the Naval Special Warfare Command Group in Coronado, California, where he was assigned to SEAL Team One and deployed to Iraq with the troop surge as the legal advisor to the SEAL Commander of the Special Operations Task Force-West in Fallujah.
DeSantis returned to the U. S. +more in April 2008, at which time he was reassigned to the Naval Region Southeast Legal Service. The U. S. Department of Justice appointed him to serve as a Special Assistant U. S. attorney at the U. S. Attorney's Office in the Middle District of Florida. DeSantis was assigned as a trial defense counsel until his honorable discharge from active duty in February 2010. He concurrently accepted a reserve commission as a lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the US Navy Reserve.
During his military career DeSantis has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal. As of 2022, he is still serving in the +moreS. _Navy_Reserve'>U. S. Navy Reserve.
U.S. House of Representatives
In 2012, DeSantis announced he would run in the Republican primary for Florida's 6th congressional district. The district had previously been the 7th, represented by 10-term Republican John Mica, but Mica's share of Orlando had been drawn into the new 7th District, and Mica opted to run there even though the new 6th included the bulk of his former territory.
DeSantis won the six-candidate Republican primary with 39% of the vote, while the runner-up, state representative Fred Costello, received 23%. In the November general election, DeSantis defeated Democratic nominee Heather Beaven 57-43%, with majorities in all four counties. +more He was reelected in 2014 and 2016.
Before the 114th United States Congress, DeSantis was named the chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security. * Committee on Foreign Affairs ** Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia ** Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere * Committee on the Judiciary ** Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice ** Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet * Committee on Oversight and Government Reform ** +moreS. _Postal_Service_and_the_Census'>Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U. S. Postal Service and the Census ** Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs * Republican Study Committee.
DeSantis introduced the +more_3973;_113th_Congress)'>Faithful Execution of the Law Act of 2014 (H. R. 3973; 113th Congress) in the House on January 29 of that year. The bill would have directed the United States Department of Justice to report to Congress whenever any federal agency refrained from enforcing laws or regulations for any reason. In its report, the government would have been required to explain why it had decided not to enforce that law. DeSantis spoke in favor of the bill, arguing that "President Obama has not only failed to uphold several of our nation's laws, he has vowed to continue to do so in order to enact his unpopular agenda. . The American people deserve to know exactly which laws the Obama administration is refusing to enforce and why. " The bill passed in the House but did not become law.
DeSantis signed a 2013 pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity vowing to vote against any global warming legislation that would raise taxes. In 2015, DeSantis was a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, a group of congressional conservatives and libertarians.
In August 2017, DeSantis added a rider to the proposed fiscal 2018 spending bill package that would end funding for the Mueller investigation "or for the investigation under that order of matters occurring before June 2015" (the month Trump announced he was running for president). The amendment was intended to counter a bipartisan bill written by two Democratic and two Republican U. +moreS. senators which would have limited the president's power to fire the special counsel. The DeSantis amendment sought to cut off the investigation's funding by November 2017. It was also a response to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's statement that the DOJ "doesn't conduct fishing expeditions". DeSantis stated that the DOJ order dated May 17, 2017, "didn't identify a crime to be investigated and practically invites a fishing expedition".
2016 U.S. Senate candidacy
In May 2015, DeSantis announced his candidacy for the United States Senate seat held by Marco Rubio, who initially did not file to run for reelection due to his bid for the +more_presidency'>U. S. presidency. He was endorsed by the fiscally conservative Club for Growth. When Rubio ended his presidential bid and ran for reelection to the Senate, DeSantis withdrew from the Senate race and ran for reelection to the House.
Governor of Florida
In January 2018, DeSantis announced his candidacy for governor of Florida to succeed term-limited Republican incumbent Rick Scott. President Trump had said in December 2017 that he would support DeSantis should he run for governor. +more During the Republican primary, DeSantis emphasized his support for Trump by running an ad in which DeSantis taught his children how to "build the wall" and say "Make America Great Again" and dressed one of his children in a red "Make America Great Again" jumper. Asked if he could name an issue where he disagreed with Trump, DeSantis did not identify one. On July 30, 2018, Jonathan Martin of The New York Times wrote that the support DeSantis's primary campaign had received demonstrated both Trump's king-making capacity in a Republican-trending state and a "broader nationalization of conservative politics" whereby "a willingness to hurl rhetorical lightning bolts at the left, the media and special counsel Robert S. Mueller can override local credentials, local endorsements and preparedness for a state-based job".
On August 28, 2018, DeSantis won the Republican primary by defeating his main opponent, Adam Putnam. His next opponent was Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum in the general election. +more The race was "widely seen as a toss-up".
In a televised interview on Fox News, DeSantis made a statement that received widespread media attention, and was interpreted by Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo as a racist dog whistle. According to a profile by Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker:
DeSantis began the campaign with a disastrous gaffe, saying on television, "The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up" by electing Gillum. DeSantis insisted that there was no racial motive behind the statement-"He uses a lot of dorky phrases like that," one of his former colleagues told me-and the outrage didn’t endure. +more But his tone deafness created a disadvantage. "We were handling Gillum with kid gloves," the lawyer close to DeSantis told me. "We can’t hit the guy, because we’re trying to defend the fact that we’re not racist. ".
In September 2018, DeSantis announced state representative Jeanette Núñez as his running mate. He resigned his House seat on September 10, 2018, to focus on his gubernatorial campaign. +more The same month, DeSantis was criticized by television talk show host Joe Scarborough for not having a fully formed policy platform, and canceled a planned interview with the Tampa Bay Times to have additional time to put together a platform before an in-depth policy interview.
DeSantis was endorsed by the Florida Police Chiefs Association. In the campaign, some sheriffs endorsed DeSantis, while other sheriffs backed Gillum.
DeSantis's gubernatorial platform included support for legislation that would allow people with concealed weapons permits to carry firearms openly. He also supported a law mandating the use of E-Verify by businesses and a state-level ban on sanctuary city protections for undocumented immigrants. +more DeSantis promised to stop the spread of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee. He expressed support for a state constitutional amendment to require a supermajority vote for any tax increases. DeSantis opposed allowing able-bodied, childless adults to receive Medicaid. He said he would implement a medical cannabis program, while opposing the legalization of recreational cannabis.
Initial election-night results had DeSantis winning by nearly 100,000 votes, and Gillum conceded. Gillum took back his concession after late-counted ballots brought the race within less than 34,000 votes, a margin of 0. +more4%. The close margin required an automatic machine recount of the ballots.
A machine recount in three statewide contests (governor, U. S. +more senator, and agriculture commissioner) began with a November 15 deadline. Although three counties missed the deadline, it was not extended. DeSantis was confirmed as the winner and Gillum conceded on November 17.
DeSantis prefiled the oath of office with the Florida secretary of state and became governor on January 8, 2019. The official swearing-in ceremony was held at noon that day. +more On January 11, DeSantis posthumously pardoned the Groveland Four, four black men falsely convicted of rape in 1949.
In January 2019, DeSantis officially suspended Broward County sheriff Scott Israel for his response to the mass shootings at the Fort Lauderdale airport and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, appointing Gregory Tony to replace Israel. In his first two weeks in office, DeSantis appointed Barbara Lagoa, +more_Luck'>Robert J. Luck and Carlos G. Muñiz to fill the three vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court, shifting the court's majority from liberal to conservative. He replaced the entire South Florida Water Management District board. He signed a $2. 5 billion executive order for water quality and Everglades restoration work. In January 2019, DeSantis signed an executive order calling for the end of Common Core in Florida.
In June 2019, DeSantis signed a measure that would make it harder to launch successful ballot initiatives. Petition-gathering for ballot initiatives to legalize medical cannabis, increases to the minimum wage, and expansion of Medicaid were also under way.
After the 2020 Republican National Convention was pulled from its originally scheduled host city, Charlotte, following conflict between Trump and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper over plans for a large-scale gathering without public-health protocols in place to prevent spread of COVID-19, DeSantis campaigned to have Florida be the new host state. He competed with similar entreaties from Tennessee and +moreS. _state)'>Georgia. DeSantis won, with the main festivities of the RNC, including Trump's keynote speech, relocated to Jacksonville. Ultimately, the entire event was scrapped in favor of rallies online and on television.
On February 2, 2021, DeSantis announced his support of legislation to crack down on Big Tech and prevent alleged political censorship. He also announced his support of a number of election law restrictions.
In March 2021, DeSantis proposed legislation to impose restrictions and stricter requirements for Florida universities to collaborate with Chinese academics and universities; he said this would crack down on economic espionage by China. DeSantis signed two such bills in June. +more In May 2021, he signed a deal with The Seminole Tribe of Florida to allow the tribe to offer statewide online sports betting. In June 2021, DeSantis signed a bill incentivizing wildlife corridors.
In April 2021, DeSantis signed into law the Combating Public Disorder Act he had been advocating. Aside from being an anti-riot statute, it forbade intimidation by mobs; penalized damage to historic properties or memorials, such as downtown Miami's Christopher Columbus statue, which was damaged in 2020; and forbade publishing personal identifying information online with intent to harm. +more DeSantis had argued for this legislation by citing the George Floyd protests of 2020 as well as the 2021 United States Capitol attack, but only the former was mentioned at the signing ceremony. Several months after the signing, a federal judge blocked the portion of the law that introduced a new definition of "riot", calling it too vague.
On May 5, 2021, Desantis announced that all Florida police officers, firefighters, and paramedics would receive a $1,000 bonus.
In its 2021 session, the Florida legislature passed DeSantis's top priorities. During his tenure, DeSantis had a generally smooth relationship with the Legislature, which enacted many of his proposals.
During 2021, there was speculation that DeSantis would run for president in the 2024 election. On September 7, DeSantis said he thought such speculation was "purely manufactured". +more During a September 30 appearance on Fox News, he said he would run for reelection as governor in 2022 but was not thinking beyond that. On November 5 he filed to run for reelection as governor, and on November 8 announced that he had done so. In a straw poll conducted at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, DeSantis came in second with 28% of the vote, behind Donald Trump, who received 59%.
On December 2, 2021, DeSantis announced that as part of a $100 million funding proposal for the Florida National Guard, $3.5 million would be allocated to the reactivation of the Florida State Guard, a volunteer state defense force that has been inactive since 1947.
In 2022, DeSantis was increasingly seen as a contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Various writers predicted that DeSantis could defeat former president Donald Trump or said that DeSantis is preferable to Trump in view of the January 6 hearings and subsequent straw polls.
In September 2022, after similar actions by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, an agent of DeSantis recruited 50 newly arrived asylum seekers, mostly from Venezuela, in San Antonio, Texas, and flew them via two chartered planes to the Crestview, Florida airport, where they did not debark, then proceeded to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Attorneys representing the immigrants claimed the refugees were lied to, promised jobs, funds, English lessons, legal services and housing assistance at their destination. +more The Florida legislature had appropriated $12 million to transport migrants out of the state, funding under the purview of attorney Larry Keefe, DeSantis's public safety czar, who was in charge of immigrant affairs and had a prior relationship with the air carrier. Vertol was paid $615,000 on September 8 for the transport, and received another $980,000 less than two weeks later. The destination community was not notified of the refugees' impending arrival and requirements. The migrants filed a class-action suit against DeSantis, calling his treatment of them "extreme and outrageous, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community. " DeSantis's spokesperson said the refugees had all signed a consent form, and called the lawsuit "political theater" by "opportunistic activists" at the expense of "illegal immigrants".
In March 2020, DeSantis decided against declaring a state of emergency in Florida during the COVID-19 pandemic. Scientists and media outlets have given mixed reviews of DeSantis's handling of the pandemic. +more Florida's death rate from COVID-19 (75,000 deaths) ended up being within the national average and Florida's economy fared better than many other U. S. states.
Early in the pandemic, DeSantis boasted about the low number of COVID-19 cases in Florida, and harshly criticized those who had argued that the state's lax response to the virus was insufficient. Experts argued that delays in lockdown would greatly increase Florida's COVID numbers and leave it susceptible to becoming a new hot spot. +more DeSantis rejected the implementation of a statewide face mask mandate, belatedly implemented stay-at-home orders, and let his stay-at-home order implemented in April expire.
On March 8, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention privately briefed DeSantis that Florida was already experiencing community spread of COVID-19. The next day, he publicly denied such a claim. +more On March 10, federal official Anthony Fauci publicly confirmed that Florida had community spread. DeSantis confirmed Florida's community spread only on March 14.
By the end of March 2020, Florida had 6,741 confirmed cases of COVID-19. DeSantis declared that he would not issue a statewide stay-at-home order because the Trump administration had not recommended it. +more On April 1, he ordered that all Floridians stay home for 30 days with exceptions for essential services and activities. He received criticism for falsely stating on April 9 that COVID-19 had caused no fatalities under 25 in the United States. DeSantis acknowledged this error after critics pointed it out, and clarified that there have been no deaths from the virus in people under 25 in Florida. In early June, he partially lifted his stay-at-home order, lifting restrictions on bars and cinemas; the same day he lifted the restrictions, Florida recorded the largest case surge in six weeks.
DeSantis's handling of COVID-19 in Florida was initially unpopular among the state's voters: by May 2020, he was the only U. S. +more governor whose approval had declined after COVID-19 became widespread in the U. S. But after a few months, DeSantis's reluctance to impose restrictions in response to the pandemic led to an increase in approval, especially among Republican voters.
DeSantis sought to have the 2020 Republican National Convention in Jacksonville. In conversations with Trump in May, he said he would not require the use of face masks. +more By July, as Florida became a global epicenter of the virus, Trump called off the event. During Trump's reelection campaign, DeSantis worked to help him win Florida. He attended Trump's rallies and high-fived attendees while not wearing a mask, contrary to public health guidance at the time.
In June 2020, DeSantis said the bulk of new cases were present in "younger demographics" and argued that increased testing, particularly of asymptomatic individuals, and more efficient identification of outbreaks in areas such as prisons and in Florida's agriculture sector were responsible for most of the increase. He emphasized that the strain on the hospital system and medical supplies such as ventilators had decreased since the previous peak in case numbers, and that Florida was ready to handle any additional influx in hospital patients, adding that the state had "twice as many" open hospital beds than on March 1. +more DeSantis announced that he would reinstate some restrictions on business activity in late June to halt the virus's spread, but said Florida is "not going back" on reopening the economy, arguing that "people going to a business is not what's driving" the surge in cases. Anthony Fauci said that states reopening faster than federal guidelines were contributing to a rise in cases.
On June 28, 2020, DeSantis said Florida was in "good shape" in its fight against COVID-19. In July 2020, when Florida was a global epicenter of the coronavirus with nearly 5,800 deaths, DeSantis largely sidelined health experts and scientists, with The Washington Post reporting that he relied primarily on his wife, a former television reporter, and his chief of staff, a former hospital executive.
In September 2020, he lifted all restrictions on capacity in bars and restaurants, despite persistent cases. He banned cities and counties from collecting fines from face mask mandates and urged public health officials in Florida cities to focus less on universal COVID-19 testing.
The DeSantis administration largely ignored the scientists in Florida's Emerging Pathogens Institute, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Instead, in August and September 2020, DeSantis invited to Florida other scientists who endorsed less restrictive COVID-19 policies that he agreed with, so that they could conduct press conferences with him. +more They included radiologist Scott Atlas, a Trump administration advisor known for spreading misinformation about COVID-19.
DeSantis favored reopening schools for in-person learning for the 2020-21 school year. By October 2020, he announced all 67 public school districts were open for in-person learning.
According to a December 2020 article in the Sun-Sentinel, "DeSantis, who owes his job to early support from President Donald Trump, imposed an approach in line with the views of the president and his powerful base of supporters. The administration suppressed unfavorable facts, dispensed dangerous misinformation, dismissed public health professionals, and promoted the views of scientific dissenters who supported the governor’s approach to the disease. +more".
By February 2021, he had generally positive approval ratings, ranging from 51% to 64%. In March 2021, Politico called DeSantis the most "politically ascendant" governor in the country, as his controversial policies had been at that point "short of or even the opposite of ruinous", while Florida had "fared no worse, and in some ways better, than many other states". +more By August 2021, amid a record in new cases within the state, Florida had become the state with the highest per capita hospitalizations for COVID-19. By April 2021, Florida was 27th out of 50 in both cases and deaths per capita. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found substantial underreporting of deaths from COVID-19 in Florida from March to September 2020. Experts noted similar underreporting has occurred throughout the nation.
In February 2021, DeSantis threatened to withhold COVID-19 vaccines from counties that criticized the manner in which vaccines were distributed. The same month, the Biden administration mulled imposing travel restrictions on Florida and other domestic locations to prevent further spread of COVID-19. +more DeSantis expressed his discontent with what he characterized as "trying to shut FL's border" and announced his intention to fervently oppose it if executed.
On May 3, 2021, DeSantis signed an executive order officially rescinding the state of emergency and all COVID-19-related public health orders. This order superseded all local public health orders and prohibited municipalities from enacting any further public health order related to COVID-19. +more The same day, he signed a bill into law that prohibited businesses, cruise ships, schools, and government entities from requiring proof of vaccination for use of services.
In July 2021, Florida experienced a record surge in COVID-19 cases, setting a new daily case record on July 30 and accounting for around 1 in 5 new infections in the country. Amid the resurgence, DeSantis banned public schools from implementing mask mandates, claiming without evidence that masks were harmful to children, and in August 2021 he threatened to fine, withhold funding, or withhold salary from any school district or school official who did so. +more Previously, data released by the Florida Department of Health had tied over 100,000 COVID-19 cases to Florida private and public K-12 schools from September 2020 to April 2021. In late August, the DeSantis administration ordered Alachua and Broward school districts to reverse their mask mandates or face a reduction in state funding, leading the districts' leaders to declare that they would take legal action in response.
In August 2021, President Biden singled out Florida and Texas as "states with low vaccination rates" that "account for one third of all new COVID-19 cases in the entire country". Biden added, "if some governors aren’t willing to do the right thing to beat this pandemic, then they should allow businesses and universities who want to do the right thing to be able to do it. +more" DeSantis responded, "We will not allow Joe Biden and his bureaucratic flunkies to come in and commandeer the rights and freedoms of Floridians. " He also said, "No elected official is doing more to enable the transmission of COVID in America than Joe Biden with his open borders policies. " The Washington Post reported that this claim was based on "guesswork and assumptions, not evidence", while PolitiFact reported that COVID-19 hot spots tend to be clustered far from the border, in places with low rates of public vaccination, not along the southern border, as would be expected if migrants were driving the surge in cases. Moreover, the U. S. does not have an open borders policy, as most migrants at the southern border are prevented from entering the country by Title 42.
On August 27, 2021, Judge John Cooper ruled that DeSantis could not ban mask mandates in schools. The state appealed, automatically suspending Cooper's ruling while the appeal was considered, but Cooper overruled that suspension on September 8, lifting DeSantis's ban, citing the need to protect unvaccinated children.
DeSantis has heavily promoted monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19, which can treat people after they get sick and reduce hospitalization. One such medication is made by Regeneron, which is a major investment of DeSantis's largest political donor. +more At a September press conference, DeSantis said that local governments will face a $5,000 fine for imposing vaccine mandates. He said government agency vaccine mandates violate the state's law banning private businesses from requiring vaccine passports for customers. At the event, a number of speakers spoke out against the vaccine and vaccine mandates, including one person who falsely claimed the vaccine "changes your RNA".
On September 21, 2021, DeSantis appointed Joseph Ladapo, a vocal supporter of his COVID-19 policies, as Florida's surgeon general. Ladapo has a history of promoting unproven treatments against COVID-19, opposes COVID-19 vaccine requirements, has questioned the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, and has associated with America's Frontline Doctors, a pro-Trump healthcare group known for promoting falsehoods about the pandemic.
In October 2021, DeSantis offered to pay police officers $5,000 to relocate to and work in Florida, making a specific appeal to officers who refused to comply with vaccine requirements.
On November 18, 2021, DeSantis signed a legislative package into law, officially making Florida the first state to impose fines on businesses and hospitals that require inoculation against COVID-19 without exemptions or alternatives. The legislation was signed a day after Florida Republican lawmakers passed his anti-mandate agenda. +more DeSantis called it "the strongest piece of legislation that's been enacted anywhere in the country" in opposition to COVID-19 vaccination mandates.
In May 2022, a Bloomberg News op-ed claimed that, when adjusting state death tolls based on what they would be if age distribution were equal between the states, Florida's COVID-19 death toll would be less than the national average and only slightly more than California's. The op-ed also found that young people have been far more likely to die from COVID-19 in Florida than California, probably because children were in physical schools in Florida during the 2020-21 school year.
In June 2022, DeSantis decided against ordering COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5, making Florida the only state not to preorder vaccines for that demographic.
Abortion and reproductive rights
DeSantis opposes abortion and has denounced Planned Parenthood. On April 14, 2022, he signed into law a bill that bans elective abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, shortening the period of viability from 24 weeks. +more The law permits termination of a viable pregnancy if at least two physicians certify that it is necessary to avert a "serious risk" to the pregnant woman's physical health or that the fetus has a "fatal fetal abnormality", but does not permit elective termination of viable pregnancies resulting from rape, human trafficking, or incest, or permit termination of viable pregnancies that pose a risk of psychological (but not physical) affliction.
The statute prohibits partial birth abortion, experimentation on fetuses, and harming infants born alive during or immediately after an attempted abortion. It also enforces previously enacted minimum health and safety standards for third-trimester abortion and standards for humane and sanitary disposal of fetal remains that had not been enforced due to U. +moreS. Supreme Court decisions. Abortion providers found in violation of the statute's provisions can be charged with up to a third-degree felony. The provisions generally apply only to physicians who perform abortions, but any health care employee of an abortion provider can be charged with a felony for failure to report violations.
The law was expected go into effect on July 1, but a state judge blocked its enforcement, ruling that the Florida Constitution guarantees a right to privacy that renders the law unconstitutional. After DeSantis appealed the ruling, the law went into effect on July 5, pending judicial review. +more Floridians anticipated a state Supreme Court decision on the law's validity. Before the Supreme Court of the United States issued its Dobbs decision upholding the Mississippi law that inspired Florida's, the Supreme Court of Florida had cited the privacy argument to invalidate a similar state law. Although Dobbs overruled Roe v. Wade's holding that privacy rights secured a federal right to abortion until viability, that decision concerned the scope of an unenumerated right held to be implicit in the U. S. Constitution's broader guarantees of liberty or due process.
DeSantis has said that the debate over how to reduce the federal deficit should shift emphasis from tax increases to curtailing spending and triggering economic growth. He supports a "no budget no pay" policy for Congress to encourage the passage of a budget. +more He believes the Federal Reserve System should be audited.
In the wake of the alleged IRS targeting controversy, DeSantis called for IRS commissioner John Koskinen's resignation for having "failed the American people by frustrating Congress's attempts to ascertain the truth". He co-sponsored a bill to impeach Koskinen for violating the public's trust. +more Citizens Against Government Waste, a conservative think tank, named DeSantis a "Taxpayer Superhero" in 2015.
He supported the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would require that regulations that have a significant economic impact be subject to a vote of Congress prior to taking effect.
DeSantis introduced the Let Seniors Work Act, which would repeal the Retirement Earnings Test and exempt senior citizens from the 12.4% Social Security payroll tax, and co-sponsored a measure to eliminate taxes on Social Security benefits.
He sponsored the Transportation Empowerment Act, which would transfer much of the responsibility for transportation projects to the states and sharply reduce the federal gas tax.
DeSantis has opposed legislation to require online retailers to collect and pay state sales tax.
He voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. He said the bill would bring a "dramatically lower tax rate", "full expensing of capital investments", and more jobs to America.
As a result of a significant increase in gas prices, DeSantis would announce on November 22, 2021, that he would be temporarily waiving the state's gas tax in the next legislative session in 2022.
DeSantis introduced the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act, which would allow states to create their own accreditation systems, in 2016. In an op-ed for National Review, he said his legislation would give students "access to federal loan money to put towards non-traditional educational opportunities, such as online learning courses, vocational schools, and apprenticeships in skilled trades".
In June 2021, DeSantis led an effort to ban the teaching of critical race theory in Florida public schools (though it had not been a part of Florida public school curriculum). He described critical race theory as "teaching kids to hate their country", mirroring a similar push by conservatives nationally. +more The Florida Board of Education approved the ban on June 10. The Florida Education Association criticized the ban, accusing the Board of trying to hide facts from students. Other critics claimed the ban was an effort to "politicize classroom education and whitewash American history".
On December 15, 2021, DeSantis announced a new bill, the Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (WOKE) Act, which would allow parents to sue school districts that teach their children critical race theory. The bill is designed to combat "woke indoctrination" in Florida businesses and schools by preventing instruction that could make some people feel that they bear "personal responsibility" for historic wrongdoings because of their race, gender or national origin, preventing instruction that teaches that individuals are "inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously. +more", and preventing instruction that teaches that groups of people are oppressed or privileged based on their race, gender or national origin. He said of the bill: "No taxpayer dollars should be used to teach our kids to hate our country or hate each other. " On August 18, 2022, a Florida judge blocked the act, saying that it violates the First Amendment and is too vague.
DeSantis signed three education bills into law on June 22, 2021, and suggested that state colleges and universities could lose funding if they were found to promote "stale ideology" and "indoctrination". He offered no specific examples of students being indoctrinated by Florida higher education institutions. +more House Bill 233 requires institutions to annually “assess the intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity at that institution using a survey adopted by the State Board of Education", while House Bill 5 and Senate Bill 1108 introduce new requirements for civics education, including lessons on the "evil of communist and totalitarian regimes". Critics of the laws, including the Florida Education Association, claim they will have a "chilling effect on intellectual and academic freedom" and that the bills were designed to intimidate educators and suppress the free exchange of ideas.
DeSantis announced that Florida would replace the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) test with a system of smaller tests scattered throughout the year on September 14, 2021. He said the replacement would be three tests for the fall, winter and spring, each smaller than the FSA. +more Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran agreed with the decision, calling it a "huge victory for the school system". The new system is to be implemented by the 2022-23 school year. DeSantis signed a bill (SB 1048) ending the FSA testing on March 15, 2022. The new bill mandates a "progress monitoring system" that tests students three times a year, at the beginning, middle and end of each school year. The Florida Education Association criticized the bill, saying it failed to reduce the standardized testing done on students or "eliminate the big make-or-break test at the end of year. " Corcoran praised the bill, saying the monitoring caters to students, gives teachers more easily available data, and is "much more helpful to parents, and most importantly, it's beneficial to students".
On March 22, 2022, DeSantis signed into law bill SB 1054, which requires students entering high school starting in the 2023-24 school year to take a financial literacy course. Florida is the largest U. +moreS. state to mandate a financial literacy course.
On May 9, 2022, DeSantis signed House Bill 395, mandating that schools observe the traditional Soviet October Revolution Day on November 7 as Victims of Communism Day by devoting 45 minutes to teaching about communism, the role of Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, and other communist leaders in history, and "how people suffered under those regimes".
DeSantis has called himself a "Teddy Roosevelt conservationist". During his 2018 gubernatorial run, he said that he did not deny climate change's existence, but did not want to be labeled a "climate change believer", adding, "I think we contribute to changes in the environment, but I'm not in the pews of the global warming left. +more".
In 2019, DeSantis signed an executive order that included a variety of components relating to the environment. These included a promise to spend $2. +more5 billion over four years on restoring the Everglades and "other water protection", and the creation of a Blue-Green Algae Task Force, an Office of Environmental Accountability and Transparency, and a Chief Science Officer.
DeSantis supports banning hydraulic fracturing. On July 10, 2020, he announced that Florida would spend $8. +more6 million out of $166 million received by the state from a legal settlement between Volkswagen and the United States Department of Justice relating to emission violations to add 34 charging stations for electric cars. The stations would be along Interstates 4, 75, 95, 275 and 295. On June 16, 2021, DeSantis signed into law House Bill 839, which bans local governments in Florida from requiring gas stations to add electric car charging stations.
On June 21, 2021, DeSantis signed into law House Bill 919, which prohibits local governments from placing bans or restrictions on any source of electricity. Several sizable cities in Florida at that time (Orlando, +more_Petersburg,_Florida'>St. Petersburg, Tallahassee, Dunedin, Largo, Satellite Beach, Gainesville, Sarasota, Safety Harbor and Miami Beach) were setting goals to get all their energy from renewable sources. The bill was described as similar to those in other states (Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arizona and Oklahoma) that passed laws preventing cities from banning natural gas hookups.
DeSantis opposes gun control. He received an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association. +more He generally opposes firearm regulation, saying, "Very rarely do firearms restrictions affect criminals. They really only affect law-abiding citizens. ".
After the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, DeSantis expressed his support for hiring retired law enforcement officers and military veterans as armed guards for schools. He disagrees with legislation Governor Rick Scott signed that banned bump stocks, added a mandatory three-day waiting period for gun purchases, and raised the legal age for purchases from 18 to 21. +more He has expressed support for measures to improve federal background checks for purchasing firearms and has said that there is a need to intervene with those who are exhibiting warning signs of committing violence instead of waiting until a crime has been committed.
In November 2020, DeSantis proposed an "anti-mob" extension to the preexisting stand-your-ground law in Florida that would allow gun-owning residents to use deadly force on individuals they believe are looting. It would also make blocking traffic during a protest a third-degree felony and impose criminal penalties for partaking in "violent or disorderly assemblies".
DeSantis was a critic of Obama's immigration policies; he opposed Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and accused him of failing to enforce immigration laws. DeSantis has sought to ban "sanctuary cities". +more He co-sponsored the Establishing Mandatory Minimums for Illegal Reentry Act of 2015, also known as Kate's Law, which would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to increase penalties applicable to aliens who unlawfully reenter the U. S. after being removed. DeSantis encouraged Florida sheriffs to cooperate with the federal government on immigration-related issues. In June 2019, he signed an anti-"sanctuary city" bill into law. Florida had no sanctuary cities in before the law's enactment, and immigration advocates called the bill politically motivated.
DeSantis's administration allocated $12 million for relocating migrants to other states.
DeSantis opposes efforts to defund the police, and as governor has introduced initiatives to "fund the police". In September 2021, DeSantis introduced a $5,000 signing bonus for Florida police officers in a bid to attract additional out-of-state police recruits.
DeSantis has a "0" rating from the Human Rights Campaign for his voting record on LGBT-related issues and legislation. In 2018, he told the Sun-Sentinel that he "doesn't want any discrimination in Florida, I want people to be able to live their life, whether you're gay or whether you're religious. +more".
On June 1, 2021, DeSantis signed the Fairness in Women's Sports Act (SB 1028). It bans transgender girls and women from participating and competing in middle-school and high-school girls' and college women's sports competitions in Florida. +more The law took effect on July 1.
In February 2022, DeSantis voiced his support for the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act, often called the "Don't Say Gay" law by its opponents, which would prohibit instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in school classrooms from kindergarten to grade 3. He said it was "entirely inappropriate" for teachers and school administrators to talk to students about their gender identity. +more DeSantis signed the bill into law on March 28, 2022, and it took effect on July 1. In response to The Walt Disney Company's opposition to the bill, and amid an ongoing feud between DeSantis and Disney, DeSantis suggested that the Florida legislature revoke Disney World's special self-governing privileges over its 25,000 acre property-privileges granted to the company in 1967. On April 22, 2022, he signed a bill to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement Act, which allows Disney to self-govern its district, by June 2023.
In response to social media networks removing Trump from their platforms, DeSantis and other Florida Republicans pushed legislation in the Florida legislature to prohibit technology companies from de-platforming political candidates. A federal judge blocked the law by preliminary injunction the day before it was to take effect, on the grounds that it violated the First Amendment and federal law. +more When Twitter suspended DeSantis administration critic Rebekah Jones' account for violating rules against spam and platform manipulation, DeSantis's office applauded the decision, calling it "long overdue".
Term limits and pensions
DeSantis opted not to receive his congressional pension, and filed a measure that would eliminate pensions for members of Congress. After introducing the End Pensions in Congress Act, DeSantis said, "The Founding Fathers envisioned elected officials as part of a servant class, yet Washington has evolved into a ruling class culture. +more".
DeSantis supports a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on members of Congress, so that U. S. +more representatives would be limited to three terms and senators to two. As of 2022, he has served three terms as a U. S. representative.
DeSantis expressed support for the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative after it passed in November 2018, saying that he was "obligated to faithfully implement [it] as it is defined" when he became governor. After he refused to restore the voting rights for felons with unpaid fines, which voting rights groups said was inconsistent with the results of the referendum, he was challenged in court. +more The Florida Supreme Court sided with DeSantis on the issue, and the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit also sided with DeSantis in a 6-4 ruling.
In April 2019, DeSantis directed Florida's elections chief to expand the availability of Spanish-language ballots and Spanish assistance for voters. In a statement, DeSantis said "It is critically important that Spanish-speaking Floridians are able to exercise their right to vote without any language barriers. +more".
DeSantis instructed Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody to investigate allegations of voter fraud perpetrated by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg after he announced a $16 million investment to pay off the financial obligations for felons so they may vote ahead of the 2020 presidential election in Florida. The allegations asserted Bloomberg had broken the law by offering incentives to vote.
After the +more_elections'>2020 U. S. elections, DeSantis and other Republicans proposed changes to Florida election laws. DeSantis called for eliminating ballot drop boxes, as well as limiting voting by mail by requiring that voters re-register every year to vote by mail and requiring that signatures on mail-in ballots "must match the most recent signature on file" (rather than any of the voter's signatures in the Florida system). The changes to mail-in voting were notable given that Republicans had historically voted by mail more than Democrats, but Democrats outvoted Republicans by mail in 2020. According to a Tampa Bay Times analysis, DeSantis's signature match proposal could have led to rejections of his own mail-in ballots due to changes in his signature history over time; voting rights experts argued that the signature matching proposal could be used to disenfranchise voters whose signatures varied over time.
DeSantis is a Roman Catholic. He married Casey Black, a former television host for the Golf Channel and WJXT, in 2010. +more The couple lived in Ponte Vedra Beach, near St. Augustine, until it was drawn into the neighboring 4th district. They then moved to Palm Coast, north of Daytona Beach. They have three children. DeSantis is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.
DeSantis played on the field the day of the 2017 congressional baseball shooting, and while not present at the time it occurred, he and fellow Representative Jeff Duncan reportedly met the perpetrator beforehand and were asked by him whether Republicans or Democrats were playing that day.
DeSantis received the following awards during his military career:
DeSantis, Ron (2011). Dreams from Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama. Jacksonville: High-Pitched Hum Publishing. .