TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — After a controversial and consequential session this year, the Florida Legislature's GOP majority is getting ready for the next one.
Will it mean more abortion restrictions? Further work on property insurance? What about election reform?
Rep. Daniel Perez, R-Miami, recently told us what to expect in 2023. Though the party tapped the South Florida lawmaker to take the House speakership in 2024, he remains a high-ranking member of the GOP until then.
Speculation has grown that Republicans will attempt to further restrict abortion access in the coming year.
During his 15-minute interview, Perez kept the door open for such an effort. He didn't offer specifics but suggested members were interested in going beyond the 15-week ban, which took effect in July.
"We have to make sure that every single unborn child has the ability to live the life that you and I are living," Perez said. "While we're in election season, we haven't had the opportunity to begin to file a bill. So, there hasn't been any bill that has been, you know, shown to us or given to us by the governor's office, as of yet — at least not for me personally. But, I'm sure shortly after the election in November, that'll be one of the hotter topics."
Another hot topic is property insurance. Lawmakers made reforms during this year's special session, including $2 billion in reinsurance relief and work to curb frivolous litigation. Critics have said it wasn't enough. The market remains too unstable with premiums too high.
"I expect there to be more legislation in the coming session to, somehow, figure out a way to get more competition in the marketplace," Perez said. "Property insurance has been, as of late, losing companies and losing competition in the state of Florida. So, our goal is to make sure that more companies want to move it to Florida in order for the cost to eventually stabilize or decrease."
On gun rights, Gov. Ron DeSantis has vowed to sign a controversial constitutional carry bill into law if the Legislature gets it to his desk. Perez said he hadn't yet seen a bill, but offered words of support for the concept.
"I can assure you that if there's a pro-Second Amendment bill that the governor is in line with, that the House is in line with, and the Senate is in line with, that it would get signed," he said. "The House is not lacking friends for the Second Amendment. I can tell you that."
Further election reform was also coming, Perez believed. Despite widespread voter fraud remaining absent from Florida and its elections officers continuing to tout state successes, Perez said the state needed to keep working.
"I think we still need to continue to work on it and make sure that someone who is going to the ballot box, or filling out a ballot and sending it in, that it is accurate," Perez said. "It is who they are and that the supervisor of elections in each county is doing their job the way that they were sworn to do so."
In recent years, Democrats have condemned Republican efforts on election reform. Members have called them "fearmongering" or a "solution in search of a problem."
Perez said the reforms are an attempt to make the state as secure as possible.
"Until we can put our heads on pillows at night and say we've done everything in our capacity to make sure that the people voting are exactly who they say they are and have not gone around the system, then we have to keep working on this issue," Perez said.
Speaking of elections, for Republicans to accomplish any of these goals, they'll need to keep control of both chambers during the midterms.
The expectation is that they will, but Perez went further.
He felt the GOP had a good shot at capturing a supermajority in the House, which he said needs a two-seat pickup.