By John Haughey | The Center Square
The Florida Senate formally condemned “philosophies that espouse superiority” in a resolution that singles out white nationalism and white supremacy.
Senate Resolution 214, sponsored by Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, and 12 bipartisan co-sponsors, unanimously advanced out of the chamber with little discussion and debuts on the House floor next week.
Despite its smooth passage Thursday, the resolution has been revised and revamped several times while matriculating through Senate committees.
The Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee, chaired by Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, amended specific references to white nationalism or white supremacy from the resolution.
After leaving that committee, the resolution’s wording rejected “any ideology or philosophy that advocates the superiority of one of group of people over another because of race, color, national origin, sex or religion as hateful, dangerous and morally corrupt expressions of intolerance.”
Rodriguez said the amendment created a false equivalency between exclusion and physical harm. He successfully reinstated language specifically identifying “white nationalism” as philosophies of hate when SR 214 passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 19.
The resolution approved by the Senate on Thursday reads: “That the Florida Senate rejects and condemns any philosophy that incites one group of people against another on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, or disability, and that, as such, the Florida Senate rejects and condemns the philosophies embraced by white nationalists and white supremacists, and that the Florida Senate affirms that such philosophies are contradictory to the values that define the people of Florida and the United States.”
In his comments introducing the measure on the Senate floor Thursday, Rodriguez said he was spurred to sponsor the measure, and to ensure it specifically cites white nationalism and white supremacy, by the August 2019 mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, where a gunman posted racist diatribes online before allegedly seeking to kill Hispanics in a Walmart, killing 22 people and wounding 26 others.
A House companion resolution, House Resolution 51, filed by Rep, Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, never was heard.
The resolution failed to get a hearing in its first required stop, the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, which is chaired by Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa.
Nevertheless, the Senate resolution could get adopted by the House, a prospect made possible last week when House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Hialeah, endorsed it.
“It sounds like condemning white nationalism and white supremacy is pretty easy,” he said.
SR 214 was the only third-reading adoption Thursday, which passed a bevy of bills onto a busy agenda of binding votes scheduled for Friday.
Among those advanced bills is House Bill 969, Rep. Brad Drake’s, R-DeFuniak Springs, House companion to Sen. Ben Albritton’s, R-Wauchula, proposal to create the Florida Office of Broadband within the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).
The newly created Florida Office of Broadband would be the lead agency in coordinating and accelerating high-speed internet installation across the state.
“It provides some parameters they should operate within to expand the access, especially in rural Florida when it comes to broadband,” Albritton said.
HB 969 allocates up to $5 million from Florida Turnpike Enterprise’s proposed $35 million budget to broadband expansion, which would help many people, said Rep. Loranne Ausley, D-Tallahassee.
“It allows stay-at-home moms to stay current in their profession or to have a stay-at-home business,” Ausley said. “It allows adults in the workforce to up-skill or seek new opportunities.”
The House approved Drake’s bill last week. If adopted by the Senate on Friday, it goes to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk.
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