As a Texan, watching Florida excel in defending families, faith and freedom is a little like watching a cross-town rival team advance to the state championship. That rivalry is set aside; we’re all on the same side now.
Texas has done its part, of course, in the last legislative session. The Lone Star State improved election integrity, passed laws that increased opportunities for Texas families and improved Medicaid in Texas — without the disastrous expediency of expanding it.
But our legislature is on a biennial cycle, and in this off-year, it’s heartening to see Florida continue to make real progress on advancing freedom.
Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is showing us states can stand up to woke culture, woke corporations and a woke Congress. In just one month, he has signed three bills into law that severely limit the progressive ideology plaguing our nation.
One month ago, Gov. DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill into law to stand against woke culture’s lessons of sexuality and critical race theory in schools. The law prohibits any lessons on sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten through third grade and requires school districts to notify parents of changes in curriculum — and changes noticed in children. The law’s new protocols will protect children from the indoctrination of the left.
The signing of the bill provoked outrage in woke culture and corporations. Disney, originally silent on the bill until employee pushback, issued a statement saying that the goal of the company “is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts.” In response, DeSantis signed a bill that will terminate Disney’s special tax district and self-governance.
Unlike what many are saying, DeSantis is not punishing Disney by enforcing an unconstitutional — or even unreasonable — law. Instead, he has terminated the special tax district which has allowed Disney to self-govern since its inception. DeSantis’s termination of Disney’s self-governance reveals a greater underlying problem: Government should never have been in the business of picking winners and losers in the market.
Disney should never have had the subsidies and special favors it had from the government. In the past 50 years, taxpayers have subsidized Disney to the tune of millions of dollars. Consumers who wish to express their displeasure with Disney can cancel their subscriptions to Disney+ or refuse to visit the parks; no matter, because without the new law, their tax dollars would still benefit the megacorporation. DeSantis’ push to end the special tax district for Disney should be a wake-up call for taxpayers and lawmakers: What other corporate welfare schemes should we abolish?
Finally, DeSantis stood up to the leftists in Congress — who continue to push for a federal takeover of state election systems — by strengthening elections in Florida. Just as we did in Texas, Florida legislators crafted a bill that will make it easy to vote but harder to cheat in Florida. The new law strengthens election integrity through better ID requirements, introduces an annual review of voter rolls, establishes the Office of Election Crimes and Security and increases penalties for violations.
Of course, Florida Democrats claim the new law is meant to suppress votes. That’s what Texas Democrats claimed when our legislature passed similar (but not identical) protections. Yet voter turnout in our March 1 primary was more robust than ever.
As the Executive Director at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, I see all of these as wins for the nation — not just for Florida. As the Founders of our nation intended, these are examples of states acting as the laboratories of democracy. This is federalism, as it is properly understood — a right balance between federal and state powers.
As the woke cultural movement actively seeks to undermine our families, our freedoms and our futures, DeSantis is fighting back. Texas may compete with Florida for corporate relocations, new residents and business startups, but it’s a friendly rivalry. We’ll be in the stands, rooting for Florida and freedom.
The Honorable Robert Henneke is the Executive Director and General Counsel at the Texas Public Policy Foundation