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Winner/loser of the week in Florida politics: May 5 edition

Goodbye, 2019 session.
Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, answers questions about his Sanctuary Cities bill before the Senate passed the bill Thursday. (SCOTT KEELER | Times)

Winner of the week

Joe Gruters. The bill to ban so-called “sanctuary cities,” sponsored by this Sarasota Republican, survived a week of legislative back-and-forth and is headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk. Gruters navigated 244 amendments filed across both chambers and endless political jockeying to deliver on one of DeSantis’ biggest asks. The head of Florida’s Republican Party was an early Donald Trump supporter and he’s ingratiating himself with DeSantis, too.


Desmond Meade, President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, right, listens to Amendment 4 debate in the Florida House on Friday. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]

Loser of the week

Florida voters. It’s a sick sport in Tallahassee. Lawmakers subvert the will of the voters by refusing to follow the intent of voter-approved constitutional amendments. You don’t have to tell those behind Amendment 1, which passed in 2014 with 75 percent of the vote and was intended to force lawmakers to spend $300 million a year on land preservation. This year, lawmakers propose only $33 million for land buys. And Amendment 4, which won 65 percent of the vote last year? Lawmakers subverted its intended goal of allowing more than 1 million felons to register to vote with legislation requiring that they pay court costs, fees and restitution. This financial burden will disenfranchise all but a fraction of those who thought their rights were restored in November.

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