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Get the latest coverage of the 2023 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

Florida Democratic leaders challenge DeSantis' 'freedom' agenda during legislative session

Gov. Ron DeSantis has made combating “woke ideology” his major platform in the opening day of the 2023 Florida Legislative Regular Session. The governor is carrying through all his policy proposals, from stricter immigration laws, to exercising greater control over public K-12 and higher education classrooms. Senate Democratic minority leader Lauren Book is questioning the governor’s definition of American freedom.

“Floridians deserve better,” said Book. “We are here for the next 60 days to fight for each and every one of those Floridians to give them their version of not only the American dream, but the Florida dream because we are only as free as those most trapped among us.”

Leading up to the session, last month DeSantis announced legislative proposal that would repeal in-state public college and university rates for undocumented students.

Dem. State Representative Fentrice Driskell, opposes the governor’s legislation, saying that Florida should be in unity with all citizens.

“It’s once again making kids and immigrant families the target of his political poise,” said Driskell. “It’s no level too low for this government to stoop. When you talk about taking away education, which we know is a pathway to a good life. It goes to show a tale of two Florida’s. Its Florida is for some and not all.”

Democrats are in the minority this year, while Republicans have a super-majority; giving them far more power than they’ve enjoyed in the past. Democrats have little power to block legislation they don’t like but they’re planning to use their voices and all other means they can call attention to issues they believe aren’t good policies for the state.

The legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on May 5, 2023.

Adrian Andrews is a multimedia journalist with WFSU Public Media. He is a Gadsden County native and a first-generation college graduate from Florida A&M University. Adrian is also a military veteran, ending his career as a Florida Army National Guard Non-Comissioned Officer.

Adrian has experience in print writing, digital content creation, documentary, and film production. He has spent the last four years on the staff of several award-winning publications such as The Famuan, Gadsden County News Corp, and Cumulus Media before joining the WFSU news team.