By Ana Cellabos, Tampa Bay Times
April 9, 2021
TALLAHASSEE — With political pressure mounting, a GOP-led Senate panel on Friday voted to send a Gov. Ron DeSantis-backed ‘anti-riot’ bill to the full Senate floor after rejecting every Democratic attempt to narrow the scope of the legislation.
Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee were unable to stop the bill, but they did manage to get support for a study that will look at the racial impact of the proposed law.
The bill (HB 1) would enhance penalties for a host of crimes committed during protests that turn violent, and opponents have argued its broad definition could lead to racial disparity if the bill ultimately becomes law.
“The people across the state of Florida are worried about the chilling effect of this bill,” said Sen. Darryl Rouson, R-St. Petersburg. “This is going to lead to a misapplication of the law, and we know Black and brown people will suffer disproportionately because we have seen it.”
Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, tried to ease those concerns by proposing language that would have required the state to collect data and study the racial and ethnic impact of the proposed law.