Bill that could have 'chilling effect on peaceful protests' heads to Florida House next week

Democrats argue the measure would violate First Amendment rights.

click to enlarge Protesters in South Tampa in June 2020. - Dave Decker
Dave Decker
Protesters in South Tampa in June 2020.

The House is slated next week to consider a controversial bill that would crack down on violent protests and take a series of other law-and-order steps, as Democrats argue the measure  would violate First Amendment rights and have a chilling effect on peaceful protests. The bill (HB 1), a priority of House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, and Gov. Ron DeSantis, is scheduled to be heard March 25 on the House floor, according to a calendar approved Thursday. DeSantis began pushing for such legislation last year after widespread protests throughout the country over racial inequities in policing and other aspects of American life. Florida largely escaped the scenes of looting and torched buildings that occurred in such cities as Minneapolis and Portland. But DeSantis contends that Florida should enact tough penalties for violent protests to ensure the safety of citizens and tourists. But as an indication of the opposition, the House Democratic Caucus voted 41-0 to take a position in opposition to the bill.

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