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Incoming Florida legislative leaders say 'attainable' housing and 'woke' issues are top priorities

Paul Renner (left) and Kathleen Passidomo sitting, speaking during a summit
Jim Turner
News Service of Florida
Incoming House Speaker Paul Renner (left) and incoming Senate President Kathleen Passidomo spoke Saturday during the Republican Party of Florida's Sunshine Summit.

Kathleen Passidomo and Paul Renner made their comments as the Republican Party of Florida opened its Sunshine Summit.

“Attainable” housing for workers and steps to prevent a push by “woke” billionaires on issues such as energy and fossil fuels will be priorities during the next couple of legislative sessions, incoming House and Senate leaders said Saturday.

Meanwhile, as the Republican Party of Florida opened its Sunshine Summit at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Broward County, Gov. Ron DeSantis revved up the crowd by saying the GOP this year has a chance to gain four congressional seats in Florida, create “super majorities” in the Legislature and place more Republicans on school boards.

“I think this year, we have an opportunity to have an historic red wave. And part of that is to hopefully keep me around as governor,” DeSantis, who is running for re-election in November, said after taking the stage to music and applause.

DeSantis during the morning appearance also hit several GOP applause lines, such as calling President Joe Biden “Brandon” and saying other states have plunged into a “Faucian dystopia,” referring to Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser who has been a Republican target because of his views on COVID-19 issues.

The daylong summit also was slated to include debates for Republican candidates in congressional districts 4, 7, 13 and 15 and panel discussions on “surviving Biden-Flation,” election integrity and “woke” sports, before wrapping up with dinner speeches by DeSantis, First Lady Casey DeSantis, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez.

Conservative talk-radio and Fox News host Mark Levin, before moderating the first in the series of congressional debates, said “we need to be laser focused. We need to take our culture back, our classrooms back, our border back, our economy back, our Constitution back.”

In a morning panel before DeSantis appeared, incoming Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, pointed to a need for lawmakers during the 2023 session to address “attainable” housing for workers.

“We've attracted so many great businesses into the state, we have so many good educational opportunities we're working on," Passidomo said. “The real key, that is the people that are coming here from all over the country have to have a place to live.”

Passidomo and incoming House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, alluded to a program similar to a $100 million “Hometown Heroes” program DeSantis signed into law this year. The program offers down-payment and closing-cost assistance for teachers, health-care workers and police officers.

Passidomo added that the state can’t dictate rent or home prices on privately held property.

Renner, who highlighted continued work to expand school choice, also said more attention is needed to address corporate pushes toward what are known as environmental, social and governance principles, which often include favoring investment in green energy over fossil fuels.

“It's the biggest threat that I think we don't really know much about," Renner said. “And that is really an effort by billionaires, woke billionaires to leverage American capitalism against us and turn our American companies into advocates for the woke agenda. This includes cutting off our energy sector and inducing what I believe is going to be a politically induced energy crisis in America, going against our agriculture sector, going against a lot of things that make America work."

Florida is in court defending a new law DeSantis dubbed the “Stop WOKE Act,” which some businesses and educators contend violates First Amendment rights. The law, passed during this year’s legislative session, restricts the way certain race-related concepts can be taught in public schools and in workplace training.

Passidomo and Renner will formally become Senate and House leaders after the November elections and will hold the positions for two years.