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Gov. Ron DeSantis signs special session bills, including Iran sanctions

'This is just to keep people safe from the monsters that are around us,' state Rep. Randy Fine says
Posted at 6:38 PM, Nov 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-13 18:38:50-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's governor has signed into law new state sanctions on Iran and money to prevent hate crimes at nonprofits. It comes after the Legislature overwhelmingly approved all four pieces of legislation during last week's special session.

The new laws prevent local governments from contracting with Iran and divest Florida from any businesses connected to Iranian industries. The foreign nation was targeted for its connection to Hamas militants.

The second policy allots $45 million to harden security at Florida nonprofits facing the threat of hate crimes. Jewish day schools and temples were of particular concern.

State Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, carried the House version of the legislation. He believed the grant program could make a difference as tensions for Jewish populations continue to rise.

"No kids gonna learn how to read or learn science or math because of this," Fine said. "This is just to keep people safe from the monsters that are around us. So, I hope that it brings peace of mind to some of these Jewish families that are very scared right now."

The other bills on DeSantis' desk offer more than $400 million for Hurricane Idalia recovery and refill a grant program to harden homes against severe weather. Also, lawmakers agreed to shift state dollars to allow more students access to Florida's new universal school voucher program.

State Rep. Angie Nixon, D-Jacksonville, meanwhile, felt lawmakers missed a chance to call for peace in the Middle East while approving resolutions to support Israel's defense during the mid-week floor sessions.

"What's wrong with saying that Palestinians and Muslims should have the opportunity to live healthy prospers and safe?" Nixon said. "Like, I just don't understand what the problem is."

On the House floor, Nixon offered a resolution backing a ceasefire, at one point saying through tears: "We are at 10,000 dead Palestinians — how many will be enough?"

It was overwhelmingly defeated, nabbing only two votes — Nixon's included. A week later, the Democrat told us she remained undeterred.

"It's very sad that people are ignoring just the humanity in folks," she said. "It's absolutely disturbing and appalling, honestly."

Each of the four bills has its own rules and ways of working but is effective immediately upon receiving the governor's signature.