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Florida Senate passes 'anti-riot' bill; measure heads to governor's desk

Gov. Ron DeSantis says 'legislation strikes the appropriate balance'
Posted at 6:55 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 19:39:42-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s "anti-riot" bill is headed to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Senators debated the highly controversial measure on the floor for more than two hours Thursday.

The final vote was 23-17, mostly along party lines.

HB1 allows local police to challenge budgets, opens cities to liability for poor riot control and creates or strengthens penalties against those it deems rioters.

Democrats were staunchly opposed to the bill, worried that the broad language will chill peaceful protest.

The GOP majority meanwhile calls HB1 a law and order measure.

"It hopefully does what we hope it does. That is to stop the violence, the killings, the unintended deaths that happen from a protest," said State Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland.

"This is a mail piece for a reelection for a specific base that wants this," State Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami.

DeSantis said he looks forward to signing the bill.

"This legislation strikes the appropriate balance of safeguarding every Floridian’s constitutional right to peacefully assemble while ensuring that those who hide behind peaceful protest to cause violence in our communities will be punished," DeSantis said in a statement.

With his signature, HB1 takes effect immediately.