Florida on track to pass ‘anti-riot’ law requiring state approval for decreases to city police budgets

Florida is on track to implement an “anti-riot” law that would include requiring state approval for decreases to city police budgets.

The bill passed mostly along partisan lines in the state’s Senate on Thursday in a 23-17 vote and has already passed the state’s House in a 76-39 vote, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

The bill says that a city cannot cut its police budget without approval from the state. It also raises the charge for protesters who destroy historical structures, including flags and memorials, to a felony.

The bill also grant civil legal immunity to people who drive through roads that protesters block off if they are in danger and prohibits protesters who get arrested during a riot from posting bail until after their first court date.

The provision to delay bail is to ensure that a protester does not join rejoin the riot, Gov. (R) said when he revealed the legislation in September.

The charge for battery on a police officer during a riot was also upped to a mandatory six months in jail, the state outlet reported.

“This legislation strikes the appropriate balance of safeguarding every Floridian’s constitutional right to peacefully assemble while ensuring that those who hide behind peaceful protest to cause violence in our communities will be punished,” DeSantis said in a statement. “Further, this legislation ensures that no community in the state engages in defunding of their police.”

DeSantis has wanted an “anti-riot” bill since September after some police brutality protests turned violent over the summer, and is expected to sign the bill soon.

Democrats were against the bill saying it violated the First Amendment, and some Democratic senators even wore black shirts after the vote to signalize the death of the First Amendment. 

The Texas Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would also only allow police budgets to be cut if voted on by the community.

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