Stiffer Penalties for Violent Protesters Proposed; Justice Lagoa; Repaying Fines, Fees

Sep 25, 2020



With less than six weeks until Election Day, Gov. Ron DeSantis has proposed new legislation outlining stiffer penalties for violent protests.

It would allow for organizers to be charged with racketeering if a demonstration turns violent. It would also withhold bail for someone arrested until a court appearance, and hold harmless any driver who kills a protester while trying to flee a demonstration. The governor wants to be able to withhold state funding from Florida cities, that’s if a local government cuts any funding to police

If the governor’s proposal becomes law, protesters arrested in Florida could face some of the harshest punishments in the nation. Critics say that Gov. DeSantis’ proposal is unconstitutional and an assault on the First Amendment.


State Senator Keith Perry, FL-District 8 and Chair of the Florida State Senate Criminal Justice Committee, joined us to discuss the proposal and share his support for it.


We were also joined by Kara Gross, Legislative Director and Senior Policy Counsel for the ACLU of Florida, who shared her concerns about the proposal.


Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren gave us a prosecutor’s view of the proposal.


Florida Judge On President Trump’s Supreme Court Shortlist


Justice Barbara Lagoa, a conservative Cuban-American federal appellate judge from South Florida, is on President Donald Trump's shortlist to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Lagoa is the first Latina to serve on Florida’s Supreme Court, and if chosen, would be the second Latina to serve on the nation’s highest court.


James Romoser, an Editor at SCOTUSblog, spoke with us about Lagoa’s background and chances of appointment to the Supreme Court.


Repaying Fines & Fees for Returning Citizens


Billionaire and former presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is spending millions to help Floridians with a past felony conviction cast a ballot in November. It is part of a national effort to help returning citizens pay the fines and fees tied to their sentence. 


In 2018, voters approved Amendment 4, restoring voting rights to nearly one million felons in the state. But the Florida Legislature then passed a law requiring them to pay outstanding fines and fees before they could register to vote.


State officials said they will investigate Bloomberg’s move to pay off felon debt to determine if it violates any election laws.


WLRN Reporter Daniel Rivero and Neil Volz of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition joined us to discuss the subject in more detail.


Katherine Hobbs can be reached at or on Twitter at @KatherineGHobbs.