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Wednesday, January 25, 2023

DeSantis gives the constitution the middle finger over and over and…

These are just some recent examples. He removed a democratically elected prosecutor in south Florida, and the court ruled he violated the state constitution in doing so.

From the Associated Press:

 A federal judge ruled Friday that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis violated the First Amendment and the Florida Constitution by removing an elected state prosecutor, but that the federal courts lack the power to reinstate him.

Then there is the proposed massive expansion of vouchers and for this, let’s go straight to the constitution. This is what it says.

 Text of Section 1:

Public Education

(a) The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education and for the establishment, maintenance, and operation of institutions of higher learning and other public education programs that the needs of the people may require. 

Text of Section 4:

School Districts; School Boards

(a) Each county shall constitute a school district; provided, two or more contiguous counties, upon vote of the electors of each county pursuant to law, may be combined into one school district. In each school district there shall be a school board composed of five or more members chosen by vote of the electors in a nonpartisan election for appropriately staggered terms of four years, as provided by law.

(b) The school board shall operate, control and supervise all free public schools within the school district and determine the rate of school district taxes within the limits prescribed herein. Two or more school districts may operate and finance joint educational programs.[1]


Okay, where do we start? First, a hodge-podge of charter schools, voucher schools, and public schools all following different rules is not uniform by any stretch of the imagination. Then the school board has zero authority over vouchers schools paid for on the public dime, and only if you turn sideways and squint nominal control over charters. School boards have become so powerless they might as not exist, checks notes, oh that’s the governor’s plan? Cool, cool, cool.

So those are both blatant and recent violations, but then let’s look at his plans for teacher unions, not unions in general, mind you but just teacher’s unions. His proposals include:

 Andrew Pantazi of the Jax Trib, had a nice twitter thread about how his anti-union proposals violate the state constitution.

FL's constitution: "The right of employees, by and through a labor organization, to bargain collectively shall not be denied or abridged." Yet DeSantis plans to pressure teachers unions to settle CBAs by requiring districts to spend budgets  DeSantis wants to eliminate dues deduction, require unions annually notify members of costs, require teachers annually sign a form acknowledging right-to-work, prohibit "union work" on the clock, require 60%+ membership to collectively bargain, prohibit union speech at work.

Again, Florida guarantees a constitutional right to collective bargaining that "shall not be denied or abridged." Now only teachers unions with continual 60%+ membership (with members having to manually send checks instead of dues deduction) would be able to collectively bargain.

I haven't seen any news story that mentions the fact that Florida has a constitutional right to collective bargaining, which the state has had for ~80 years, approved by voters in 1944.

Florida's right-to-work law was a compromise that also guaranteed an unbridgeable right to collectively bargain. There are only two parts of the FL Constitution that grant a right that shall not be abridged: freedom of speech/press and right to collectively bargain/right-to-work.

In an RtW case, the FL Supreme Court said "anything which imposes a charge or expense upon the free exercise of a right, abridges it in the sense of curtailing or lessening the use or enjoyment of that right." Would adding these new requirements to collective bargaining count?

To answer Andrew’s question, they should count, but since it's Florida, the land where right is wrong, who knows?

The state constitution protects the right to bargain collectively. It is an absolute right, but once again, DeSantis says, $%@# it, I will do what I want. Is that what a governor is supposed to do? Thumb their nose at the state constitution? Or is that what a want-a-be fascist dictator does? 

All of these onerous requirements are intended for just teachers’ unions, by the way. Other unions that DeSantis likes will get a pass, and that alone should tell you all you need to know.  

Florida is called the sunshine state, but if this goes through, the fascist state will be a lot more accurate.

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