TALLAHASSEE, FL—The Florida Legislature has condemned the "abhorrent" public comments on a bill banning the removal of Confederate monuments, causing Senate President Kathleen Passidomo to be undecided on allowing its arrival to the Senate Floor. If it fails, this will be the second year in a row the measure has been blocked from the Floor.
Tuesday night, the Senate Committee on Community Affairs debated SB 1122, which holds individuals civilly liable for the removal, damaging, or destruction of Confederate monuments or memorials. In public testimony, one bill proponent congratulated the bill's fight against the "attack on white culture", while another called Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo a "F******g a******e,". In response, the Democrats left the meeting before the vote was called on the bill.
"I've spoken to all of them, they were not upset about the bill," Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R) said at a Wednesday press conference. "It was about the abhorrent behavior of some public members who testified. That's what they were upset about, and they had every reason to be upset,"
Passidomo, who voted in 2016 to remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith from the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall, spoke to her uneasiness on the conversations around the bill.
"[More than] the problems with the bill, there are problems with perceptions among our caucus, on all sides," She said. "So I'm going to take that into consideration. I'm not going to bring a bill to the Floor that is so abhorrent to everybody, so I don't know yet,"
Gov. DeSantis has spoken on his strong support of preserving monuments, telling reporters last week, “I have not seen the legislation, but I’ve been very clear ever since I’ve been Governor, I do not support taking down monuments in this state,”
The measure's sponsor, Republican Sen. Jonathan Martin, proposed a similar bill last session. Despite passing two committees, the bill was never brought to the Floor. If the Senate President's current thought process prevails, it appears this year's bill may meet a similar fate.