The stories that defined the Sunshine State in 2022
When it comes to health care in Florida, abortion was at the forefront of the conversation in 2022.
The landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade was overturned, giving states the ability to regulate or ban abortion. Trigger laws in some states went into effect immediately, such as Arkansas, Missouri, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. The bill was blocked after a state court judge ruled the law violated the state’s Constitution. The state has since filed an appeal, which automatically suspended the judge’s decision under Florida law. Abortion rights groups promptly sued the state and plaintiffs are now waiting for the Florida Supreme Court to accept or deny the legal challenge.
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo is returning for a second term. A critical skeptic of COVID-19 vaccines and tight restrictions, Ladapo worked with DeSantis to significantly change the state’s guidance. Florida also banned gender affirming care for minors this year and a Medicaid crisis could be looming in 2023.
- Kerry Sheridan, health and education reporter at WUSF.
- Daniel Chang, Florida health correspondent for Kaiser Health News.
Education and politics collide
Schools are always in the crossfire of politics, but in 2022 Florida saw that taken to new levels. Students returned to in-person classes in January without masks, as they were banned in schools last November.
The Parental Rights in Education Act (HB 1557), known as the Don’t Say Gay Bill by its critics, was enacted into law during this year’s legislative session. Supporters say the bill gives parents the right to make decisions about the upbringing of their children and what they learn in the classroom. Opponents say it stifles what kids can learn in the classroom and burdens the free speech rights of LGBTQ parents and students.
Schools across the state saw more involvement from the government in school board elections as well. DeSantis backed 30 candidates, and 24 of them won their races. School board races are usually nonpartisan, but this time they saw plenty of support from Republicans and groups like Moms for Liberty, which endorsed 12 candidates.
Guest: Jeff Solochek, education reporter for the Tampa Bay Times.
Florida’s political landscape
Republicans in the state have solidified their grip on power with a strong showing in the midterm elections. Riding on the coattails of DeSantis’ comprehensive reelection win, they secured a supermajority in the state Legislature and sent more Republican lawmakers to Washington.
DeSantis saw little pushback from Republicans on redistricting and other policies he championed in this year’s legislative session. The governor signed controversial bills concerning education and culture war issues into law and grabbed headlines by flying migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard and using his new election fraud task force to arrest voters. Despite loud protests from Democratic lawmakers and other opponents, DeSantis’ polarizing tactics didn’t appear to cost him at the ballot box.