Republican Ron DeSantis would not have to resign as governor of Florida to run for president if he chooses to do so under a bill that received final approval on Friday from the Florida legislature. the GOP-dominated state.

The measure, attached to a much broader election bill, would create an exemption to Florida law that would require anyone seeking a job to resign from the one they already hold after qualifying as a candidate. Only a public servant running for President or Vice President of the United States would not have to resign.

Supporters described the bill as mere clarification and not specifically aimed at DeSantis, who has yet to announce a presidential race but is expected to declare his candidacy for the Republican nomination in the coming weeks. The bill passed the State House 76-34 along party lines and now goes to DeSantis, who is expected to sign it.

“It’s an individual office that is unique. He is the chief executive of our country,” Republican Rep. Ralph Massullo said during the House debate on Friday. “It’s not just for our governor, it’s for anyone in politics.”

Democrats called the effort a cynical attempt to pave the way for DeSantis to run while he remains governor. His current tenure in Tallahassee would end in January 2027.

“We in this body are following orders from the governor,” said Rep. Angela Nixon, a Democrat. “He has to give up running if he wants to run for president, period. Last time I checked, being governor is a full-time job. Running for president takes a lot of work.

The bill, which makes a number of other changes to Florida election law, was approved a day after a federal appeals court upheld a GOP-sponsored election law enacted last year. This law was challenged as racially discriminatory in trying to suppress black votes, but a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit disagreed.

Among other things, it would tighten limits and increase penalties for third-party voter registration organizations, place more restrictions on mail-in ballots, and transfer responsibility for determining whether a voter is eligible from the state to the state. ‘individual.

Democrats have argued that the bill is another step to suppress votes from minorities and the economically disadvantaged in favor of Republicans who already dominate Florida state government and federal offices.

“We’re still at it, which makes it harder for people to register to vote. What we are doing with this bill is unnecessary,” said Rep. Anna Eskamni, D-May. “It’s really frustrating.”

Republicans, however, described the measure as ensuring a legitimate vote, simplifying election operations and removing ambiguity from the law.

“There is nothing more sacred than our vote,” Republican Rep. John Snyder said. “It should be easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

The House also approved a proposal that would require passage of a constitutional amendment with at least 66.67% of the vote, up from 60% currently. This measure must pass the Senate and then move to the November 2024 ballot, where it would require a 60% vote to enact.

“We know that in today’s crazy world, we are at greater risk of bad constitutional amendments,” said lead sponsor Republican Rep. Rick Roth. “We have to defend our constitution.”

Democrats argued that the amendment’s threshold shift would make it harder for voters to take their own initiative to change policy if the legislature refused to do so.

“Sixty percent is enough,” said Democratic Rep. Bruce Antone. “Voters should have a choice when the Legislature isn’t listening. We’ve seen it time and time again.”

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