DeSantis Fever: GOP Lawmakers Across the Nation Follow Florida’s Lead with Copycat Legislation
DeSantis-style policies are springing up in legislatures across the country, from the Western US to the deep South.
In Wyoming, GOP lawmakers are moving to ban references to sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten to the third grade, echoing DeSantis’s Parental Rights in Education Act, which did the same and mandated age-appropriate instruction on the topics in later stages.
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A separate Republican bill would hold librarians and teachers criminally liable should a student be exposed to obscene reading materials, a growing problem in at least Florida that DeSantis-backed school boards have been looking to stop.
According to the Washington Post, other DeSantisesque bills have popped up in Georgia, Nebraska, Indiana, and elsewhere.
James Nash, senior vice president at the bipartisan ROKK Solutions public affairs strategy firm and former spokesman at the National Governors Association, told the Washington Post that Florida had become the conservative equivalent of California.
“Just as California has taken a lead on a lot of liberal policymaking, Florida now seems to be the center of gravity for a lot of conservative policymaking right now.”
While Texas has traditionally been considered the heart of conservatism in America, Florida is now vying for that title. And as Nash points out, it’s certainly setting the bar for practical policy.
According to Moms for Liberty, a Florida-based advocacy group for parental authority in education with close ties to DeSantis, lawmakers in a half-dozen states are debating “parental rights” legislation in the same vein as Florida law.
Jeremy T. Redfern, DeSantis’ deputy press secretary, told The Washington Post that numbers don’t lie and that recent immigration to Florida is a vindication of these policies.
“People vote with their feet. Florida’s record-breaking net domestic migration exhibits the success of Governor Ron DeSantis’ priorities. We are proud to be a model for the nation, and an island of sanity in a sea of madness.”
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But that hasn’t stopped the imitation. Georgia is considering a bill that increases the Governor’s authority over county prosecutors, a power DeSantis was forced to use last year.
A Missouri proposal takes the concept of the Parental Rights in Education Act and runs with it, prohibiting any school employee from talking about sex or gender identity with any student under the age of 18 unless the employee is a licensed mental health counselor.
A Texas article pointed out that the Texas legislature was adopting too many DeSantis-style policies to count.
North Carolina has also instituted a Parental Bill of Rights. Still, North Carolina State Senator Amy Galey (R) insisted to The Washington Post that it had little to do with DeSantis but was in response to a universal groundswell of parents who “during the pandemic, actually saw the curriculum that was being taught” and now want change.
DeSantis’s policies going nationwide may serve as a litmus test for his potential 2024 run, acting as a bellwether for the popularity of his ideas.
Michigan state Rep. Phil Green praised DeSantis for his pragmatic approach to politics as his greatest strength and as inspiring others across the nation to put words into action.
“A lot of people can tell you what they would like to do and what they think should be done, but Ron DeSantis actually has a record and can show, ‘This is what I have done.'”
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