DeSantis Signs 15 Bills, Budget, Vetoes $1 Billion

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This story combines two reports, both authored by the staff at News Service Florida with minor edits

Tallahassee, FL - Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday signed 15 bills from this year’s legislative session, including a measure aimed at helping protect firefighters from cancer-causing chemicals.

Most of the newly signed measures were low profile during the session that ended in March, but the firefighter-protection bill (SB 1092) had support from state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who serves as the state fire marshal.

The bill sets up a program that will provide grants to local fire departments to buy equipment and provide training to help shield firefighters from exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.

“Floridians depend on their local firefighters every day to come to their aid at a moment’s notice,” Sen. Aaron Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican who sponsored the measure with Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff, R-DeLand, said in a statement after the bill passed in March. “This bill ensures that we are coming to their aid every day to keep them safe from cancer-causing residue on their equipment.”

He also issued a veto Saturday, nixing a public-records bill (SB 1292). He said the bill was a “nullity” because it was tied to a juvenile-justice bill that did not pass during the session.

And, pointing to “difficult circumstances,” DeSantis on Monday said he signed a $92.2 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year after vetoing about $1 billion in spending.

The large numbers of vetoes came as state revenues plummet because of economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Lawmakers passed a proposed $93.2 billion budget in March as the effects of the virus started to be felt.

The new budget will take effect Wednesday, the start of the 2020-2021 fiscal year. DeSantis said the budget includes $500 million to increase teacher salaries and more than $625 million for Everglades and other water-related projects --- two of his top priorities of the legislative session.

Also, he said it includes pay raises for state employees. As an example of the vetoes, he said they include $20 million for the Job Growth Grant Fund, an economic-development program. The News Service will have a full story later Monday.

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