DeSantis sued over new ‘anti-riot’ law


Florida Governor, Ron Desantis has been sued by a social justice group two days after the Republican signed a bill to create tougher penalties for people who participate in violent protests.

On Wednesday, Legacy Entertainment & Arts Foundation, a non-profit group filed the lawsuit  in Orlando federal court, according to court records.

It argues the new law violates First Amendment protections for free speech, Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment and 14th Amendment protections of due process.

“The breathtaking scope of the Bill includes granting civil immunity to people who drive into peaceful demonstrators if such demonstration blocks a road, prevents people accused of ‘rioting’ from bailing out of jail until after their first court appearance, increases penalties for assaulting law enforcement officers while engaging in a ‘riot,’ penalizing local governments that interfere with efforts to stop a ‘riot,’ and allows law enforcement agencies that face funding reductions to file objections,” the complaint stated.

Governor Ron DeSantis spokesman Cody McCloud said the governor’s office hasn’t yet been served in the case but will firmly defend the legal merits of the new law, which McCloud said protects businesses, supports law enforcement and ensures punishment for those who cause violence.

The  anti-riot bill that Governor Ron DeSantis signed on Monday was a response to nationwide demonstrations that occurred in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Most of the protests against racial injustice were peaceful, but some turned violent. After the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, Republicans pushing the legislation used it as an example to support the effort.

Opponents of the bill said it was a racist reaction to a problem that hasn’t occurred in Florida. They saw it as an attempt to squash the voices of groups like Black Lives Matter.

The new law enhances penalties for crimes committed during a riot or violent protest. It allows authorities to hold arrested protesters until a first court appearance and establishes new felonies for organizing or participating in a violent demonstration.

It also strips local governments of civil liability protections if they interfere with law enforcement’s efforts to respond to a violent protest and adds language to state law that could force local governments to justify a reduction in law enforcement budgets.

It also makes it a second-degree felony to destroy or demolish a memorial, plaque, flag, painting, structure or other object that commemorates historical people or events. That would be punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Police reform bills introduced by Black lawmakers


When Florida state Rep. Fentrice Driskell introduced police reform legislation at a news conference two months ago, she seemed as confident that timing would be on her side. The country had experienced a reckoning over police brutality and race over the summer, with protests across the nation.

“Many of us marched alongside you,” the Tampa Democrat said. “And while the peaceful protests may have themselves subsided, our work has not.”

“As Black lawmakers, our lived experiences in our communities is how we know that there needs to be a better relationship with law enforcement,” Driskell said. “Unfortunately, that sense of urgency hasn’t necessarily translated [to] majority leadership in the House and the Senate.”

In February, Driskell, and the other 26 members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus introduced over 20 police reform bills for consideration in both the House and Senate. But despite being introduced early on in the legislative session, the bulk of these bills have not only failed to pass — most have yet to even get a hearing. Of the approximately 24 bills, 20 of them have yet to appear on the agenda of committee meetings.

And considering the Legislature’s quick passage of a controversial anti-riot bill, what some consider to be one of the most pro-law enforcement pieces of legislation in the nation, policy around police reform seems farther away than ever.

The FLBC’s efforts — and disappointments — come as a jury on Tuesday found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on multiple counts in the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man whose death sparked nationwide protests over police brutality.

“We talk about these bills at pretty much every Black Caucus meeting,” Driskell said. “We give status updates, and we have multiple members who are talking to leadership and seeing what can be done. It’s all hands on deck.”

Some of these FLBC bills have had success. The Senate unanimously passed the Kaia Rolle Act, which would prohibit arresting kids younger than seven, and it’s currently awaiting House approval. The Senate has advanced a separate bill providing mental illness training for law enforcement through two committee meetings.

The Senate has also moved forward with a police reform bill filed by Sen. Jason Pizzo (D-Miami), and similar to one introduced by the FLBC, that would limit police use of chokeholds. Both bills are currently are its last committee stops before reaching the floor.

Republican House leaders also worked directly with the FLBC on a police training bill that would set statewide use of force policies and instate a database that would track instances of excessive force, if it became law. It’s currently on its last committee stops before the Senate floor.

However, more ambitious or sweeping bills introduced by the FLBC have dimmer prospects. Those bills include legislation prohibiting no-knock search warrants for misdemeanor offenses to requiring every law enforcement agency to use body cameras and restricting law enforcement from acquiring surplus military equipment.

“With the limited time frame that we have, we didn’t expect all of those bills to be heard,” Powell said.

“But we did expect for every one of those bills to be understood, and send a message, of why it was filed.”

One obstacle for these police reform bills is the makeup of the FLBC compared to the House and Senate. While FLBC members are overwhelmingly Democratic, Republicans control both the House and the Senate. Of the 27 members of the FLBC, only one is a Republican.

During debate over the anti-riot legislation, Republican members made it clear that their legislative priorities were reaffirming, as opposed to limiting, law enforcement’s abilities to maintain social order.

“We understand, and it’s no secret, that we’re under the guise of a very conservative legislature,” Powell said. “Our Governor has been very conservative with the issues that are important to us.”

However, the offices of House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson did not respond for comment.

And as the reality that most of these police reforms won’t become law becomes more apparent, FLBC members are already looking to next session.

“I’ve been in this process long enough to know that sometimes it takes more than one session to get the policy you want,” Driskell said. “We can’t let the conversation die. That to me is how I would define a lack of success. If we don’t get all the bills passed or heard this session, that’s not ideal. But we live to fight another day.”

Biden on gun violence


Gun violence issue finally addressed by President Joe Biden.

On Thursday, President Biden requested Congress to end the broad immunity that gun-makers have from being sued for shootings is a top priority for his administration.

“Most people don’t realize: The only industry in America, billion-dollar industry, that can’t be sued, exempt from being sued, are gun manufacturers,” President Biden said during a White House speech where he announced a series of executive actions aimed at getting rid of the on going gun violence.

“Imagine how different it would be had that same exemption been available to tobacco companies, who knew and lied about the danger they were causing,” deaths from cancer, President Joe Biden said as he called on Congress to revoke the gun industry’s protection from civil liability claims.

President Joe Biden spoke on the day a gunman killed five people in South Carolina, one of four mass shootings in the U.S. in the past three weeks. The others were in Georgia, Colorado, and California.

Congress in 2005 passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which gave gun manufacturers a significant degree of immunity from being sued for money damages by victims of gun violence and their relatives.

“If I get one thing on my list, Lord came down and said, ‘Joe, you get one of these,’ give me that one,” Biden said.

“Because I tell you what, there would be a come-to-the-Lord moment these folks would have, real quickly.”

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters later that Biden is calling for lawmakers in Congress to reintroduce past bills that sought to repeal the protection act.

A Pennsylvania appeals court last September ruled that the act was unconstitutional. The decision was the first by any court to conclude that the law violated the 10th Amendment. The ruling did not affect the law’s application nationwide.


Florida’s data privacy laws stired up


A mysterious group is a reason behind sweeping legislation that would beef up Florida’s data privacy laws. It has hired a Tallahassee-based lobbying team and spent $300,000 in political contributions, but almost no one — including the sponsors of the bills — has any idea who is behind the group.

The organization, Propel Florida, is a nonprofit that is not required to disclose its donors, lists a UPS box in Lithia as its only address, and was incorporated last April. But over the first half of the 2021 legislative session, the group has flexed its political muscle.

It’s so far steamrolling the state’s powerful business lobby, which almost universally opposes the legislation because it would allow consumers to sue companies over data privacy violations, provision supporters say is a needed enforcement mechanism to protect consumer rights.

“I am aware of a group identified as Propel Florida, and have met with their lobbyists as well as many other lobbyists across the state on my data privacy bill,” state Sen. Jennifer Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican sponsoring the Senate version of the bill, said in an interview. “I don’t have any knowledge about the specifics of the group.”

Bradley said it does not concern her that a group she knows nothing about is a main lobbying force behind a bill she is sponsoring because “I support the policy.”

House sponsor, state Rep. Fiona McFarland (R-Sarasota), is also in the dark. She said she has met with lobbyist Derek Whitis, a Tallahassee-based contract lobbyist hired by Propel Florida, to discuss the bill, but has no idea who the organization is or who is funding its efforts.

“I have worked with lots of companies and industries on this bill,” she said in an interview. “Propel Florida was introduced to me through their lobbyists as a proponent of data privacy.”

In a text message, Whitis said Propel Florida is a “social advocacy group looking to support the data privacy protection legislation.” He did not respond to follow up questions about who is behind the group. The group is not violating any state laws, which allow organizations and nonprofits to lobby the Legislature without identifying donors.

Both Bradley and McFarland said they have spoken with dozens of lobbyists about the bill when asked about Propel Florida, but among those lobbying on the bill, an overwhelming majority are in opposition. Opponents include some of the biggest business groups in the state including the National Federation of Independent Businesses and Associated Industries of Florida. Propel Florida is the only outside group that expressed support in each of the bill’s three committees, which it has passed with just one “no” vote among the three. California-based software and cloud company Oracle also expressed support in its first House committee stop. Oracle is among the companies that helps with privacy law compliance. Many such firms emerged after passage of the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, a bill that resembles the Florida legislation, but differences exist.

Ken Glueck, who heads Oracle’s government affairs team, said that outside of a strong federal consumer data protection law, the company has been encouraging states to institute bills as data increasingly becomes a tool for “surveillance.”

“Let’s keep pushing the rock up the hill,” Glueck said. “We are encouraging states to go it alone, and Florida has an important economy.”

He said his company has no idea who Propel Florida is.

“We are supporting this bill out in the open under our company logo,” he said.

Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis’ office has also supported the bill in committee. Frank Collins, a spokesperson for Patronis, said the CFO is “concerned about consumer protection issues,” and that he had heard from Propel Florida, but did not return follow-up questions about whether he knew who was behind the group.

Propel Florida has also hired contract lobbyists, Cameron Yarbrough and Paul Hawkes, records show. Neither returned a request seeking comment.

The group has also given $300,000 in political contributions, according to campaign finance records. That includes $50,000 to both the Republican Party of Florida and the main Republican Senate campaign committee in October, and $100,000 last month to both a political committee chaired by Dave Ramba, whose lobbying firm employs Yarbrough and a separate committee chaired by lobbyist Bill Helmich.

In December, Ramba told POLITICO that Propel Florida was led by someone named Shaun Keck, who at the time identified himself to POLITICO as Propel Florida’s director.

“The fact of the matter is Floridians can’t trust Big Tech,” Keck said in a December email. “For years, virtual platforms have been collecting personal, private information from all of us. After which they capitalize by renting and selling this private information.”

Keck did not respond to follow up questions at the time and did not respond to several requests for comment for this story.

The bills in the House and Senate are not identical, but both have core provisions that would allow consumers the right to access personal information a business collects on them, the right to opt-out of the sale of their personal data, and allows them to request a business delete the personal data they have on them. The provisions would apply to companies that have $25 million or more in global annual revenue, annually buy data of more than 50,000 consumers for commercial purposes, or get 50 percent of their annual revenues from selling data.

The provisions specific to data privacy are largely non-controversial. What has sparked a clash between supporters of the bill and nearly every major Florida business lobbying group is a separate provision that would allow consumers to sue over violations of the new data privacy laws, which supporters have said is a needed enforcement mechanism to give the new data privacy provisions legal teeth.

“It will be a litigation magnet,” said William Large, president of the Florida Justice Reform Institute, which regularly spars with state trial lawyers over lawsuit reform issues.

Each violation could come with a $100 to $750 fine, and because when a large company is impacted by something like a widespread data breach, thousands of consumers could be involved, opponents like Large have argued in committee that could lead to class action lawsuits.

During a meeting of the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee last month, state Sen. Annette Taddeo (D-Miami) filed an amendment to remove the lawsuit provisions. She acknowledged the oddity of a Democrat sponsoring amendments to help the state’s generally Republican-leaning businesses lobby but said she thought the lawsuit provisions were too large.

“If any businesses violate any provision of this bill, then they could be liable, and I believe it is too broad,” Taddeo said before her amendment was defeated.

Bradley defended the clause but said she would work with opponents moving forward.

“This cause of action I believe is very important for enforcement … and to be able to protect our consumers’ rights,” she said. “A lot of companies that operate in this space have the economic ability of some world nations.”

“These subtle differences combine with more serious ones — like who enforces the law — to add complexity to an already confusing regulatory landscape,” Anthony Prestia, head of privacy for TerraTrue, a data privacy firm.

He said one difference in the Florida bill is that it would become effective Jan. 1, 2022, which is a much quicker timeline for companies to comply with than in other states.

“This is a full year before already-passed legislation (like California’s CPRA and Virginia’s VCDPA) come into effect, which gives companies a little time to come into compliance,” he said.

Bradley said during the Senate committee meeting she is considering moving back her bill’s effective date.

McFarland said during the last House hearing that lawsuits and legal fights are not the points, but rather it is to make sure consumer data is protected.

“In society, the amount of power we have handed companies through the use of our data I believe has resulted in an erosion of our right to privacy and even how we think about ownership over our own data,” she said.

Ban on giving food or water to electors


Florida may ban outside bunches from giving food or water to electors remaining inside 150 feet of surveying places, an arrangement that is attracting correlations with a lot more extensive restriction remembered for a hostile political race bill as of late sanctioned in close by Georgia.

The top state House Republican who is pushing the enactment, FL HB7041 (21R), shielded the action on Monday, taking note of that state law as of now incorporates a “no-sales zone” close surveying places that bar crusades and political gatherings from moving toward citizens.

“It’s impacting the vote and that is the thing that we are attempting to stop since they are an enraptured crowd,” Rep. Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill), the bill support, and the previous seat of the Republican Party of Florida, said at a meeting Monday. “The 150 feet territory should be a protected zone where they won’t be troubled by a mission.”

Ingoglia additionally said that nothing in the proposition would keep nearby political race managers from giving out water to individuals in line in the event that they needed it.

“I simply figure it ought to be a component of the public authority,” he said.

President Joe Biden a week ago completely scrutinized the broad new political decision measure endorsed into law by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, alluding to the arrangement that banished somebody from offering water to electors as an “outrage.”

Georgia’s new law indicates that nobody can offer food or water “inside 25 feet of any citizen of elector remaining in line to cast a ballot at any surveying place” or inside 150 feet of the external edge of any surveying place.

Ingoglia said he has no designs to apply the limitation outside the “no requesting zone” and added that surveying places shouldn’t have long queues given the various ways the state permits individuals to cast a ballot, including early democratic and vote-via mail.

Notwithstanding a long-standing for messed up races, including the scandalous 2000 official relate, Florida’s balloting ran easily a year ago. At that point, President Donald Trump won the state by an agreeable edge by Florida guidelines.

Due to some extent to the Covid-19 pandemic, almost 44% of all Florida citizens cast polling forms via mail in 2020. Liberals, who have generally followed Republicans in utilizing early polling forms, overwhelmed Republicans this time around. More than 2.18 million Democrats utilized early voting forms contrasted with 1.5 million Republican electors.

However, Trump reliably reprimanded remote democratic as he rehashed unjustifiable allegations about elector misrepresentation. At first, Republican administrative pioneers said they didn’t see a requirement for any enormous changes. In any case, Gov. Ron DeSantis in late February approached legislators to pass a decision bill.

The state Senate has proposed a bill that would boycott the utilization of drop boxes, which permit electors to turn in their early polling forms straightforwardly to political race workplaces as opposed to utilizing the U.S. Postal Service. The Senate bill would likewise compel all citizens to resubmit vote-via mail demands for the 2022 decisions while simultaneously restricting the span of future solicitations.

Ingoglia’s enactment would keep drop encloses in place, however, it would require electors dropping off polling forms to introduce ID to utilize them. The action would likewise restrict who can drop off a voting form to a close relative or somebody who lives at a similar location.

Dark ministers assembled a week ago at the Capitol to ensure the forthcoming bills, saying they were intended to stifle minority citizens. Popularity-based officials have additionally completely impacted the political race proposition.

State Rep. Tracie Davis, a Jacksonville Democrat who used to work in the Duval County Supervisor of Elections office, called the restriction on giving out food and water inside the no-requesting zone as “making pointless obstacles and superfluous weights.”

Yet, Davis added that gatherings have regularly known about the zone and worked around it previously. She said she anticipated zeroing in on what she called more “intolerable” segments of the bill that get serious about remote democracy.

Florida’s legislative concerns in 2021


On Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021, the 2021 Florida Legislative Session gets ongoing. Here is an insight into the biggest concerns lawmakers will be working on:

Property Insurance – SB 76 by Senator Jim Boyd, (R-Bradenton) would allow insurance companies to change the way they cover older roofs. Under this legislative proposal, if your roof is over 10 years old and it gets destroyed during a hurricane, your insurance company could pay you what your old roof is worth as opposed to paying 100% of the replacement cost. This, almost the same as the PIP Repeal bill. It can be seen as an attempt to cut down the cost of insurance.

School Funding– Nearly 90,000 students failed to show up for school this year, whether remote or in person. Not all of those kids are “missing.” Some may have moved, and others may have enrolled in private schools. Yet the shortfall has serious consequences for school districts, which get a big share of their money based on enrollment. House Speaker Chris Sprowls recently sent a letter to districts urging them to locate students “and, if they are still residents of Florida, ensure that they are properly enrolled in a K-12 education option allowed under Florida law.”

Higher Education Intellectual Freedom – Are Florida’s public universities too liberal? That’s what some conservatives believe and they’re pushing the schools to prove otherwise by requiring annual student surveys on “intellectual freedom”.

COVID Liability Protections –Florida businesses and healthcare providers have been pushing for protections from COVID-19 related lawsuits. Now the legislature is poised to give it to them. SB 72, by St. Petersburgh Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, would make it harder for people to sue businesses over coronavirus infections and related problems. SB 74 would extend immunity for healthcare providers, including nursing homes, from COVID-19 infections. The measure is also sponsored by Sen. Brandes.

Budget and COVID-19—Florida faces a $2 billion budget gap for the upcoming fiscal year courtesy of the coronavirus pandemic. Drastic declines in tourism and consumer spending are causing lawmakers to consider raising revenue in addition to budget cuts. Potential money makers could include requiring out-of-state online retailers to pay Florida sales taxes and raising tuition for public college and university students. There’s also chatter about renewing part of an expired gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida and some flirtation with online sports betting. Budget cutting areas include education and healthcare—the state’s two largest spending sectors.

School Testing– The coronavirus pandemic led schools to shut down early last school year. Some students have returned to regular classrooms while others are learning remotely. And teachers are trying to teach to both. On top of that, coronavirus outbreaks have led to student quarantines and that’s concerned educators who worry some kids are falling further behind in their learning. Educators are asking that teachers, schools, and districts be held harmless from the consequences of poor test performance, which the state allowed last year. New federal guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.

Medicaid Funding– Healthcare is the largest part of the state’s budget. However, the state doesn’t actually foot all the bills. A significant amount of that budget is built using federal money that comes through the state-federal Medicaid partnership for low-income, uninsured Floridians. The pandemic has swelled the state’s Medicaid roles. Florida lawmakers are considering further reductions to the state’s share of the Medicaid program by tapping local governments to make up the difference in a program that’s used to draw down federal matching funds.

Voucher Expansion/Consolidation- Florida has five different options for parents who want to send their kids to private schools but need help affording the tuition. There’s the McKay and Gardiner Scholarships for students with disabilities; The HOPE scholarship for kids who are bullied and the Opportunity Scholarship for low-income students in failing schools; the Scholarship program for low-income students and the Family Empowerment Scholarship for middle-income families. It’s a bit much.

Hialeah Gardens Republican Sen. Manny Diaz is staking it all on his SB 48 to consolidate the programs down to two. But his proposal would also convert the funding for families into education savings accounts which can be used on education-related expenses including college. ESA’s have long been a goal for school choice advocates, but Democrats worry the state’s public schools will suffer as a result of part of the plan that overhauls the way the money is doled out.

PIP Repeal – Lawmakers are considering leaving No-Fault Insurance and moving over to Bodily Injury coverage. This is a hope to align Florida with the 48 other states who currently have a similar system. A provision added would allow insurance companies to offer a policy that includes up to a $200 deductible for windshield repair. This is a move to try and prevent bad actors from offering incentives to customers for replacing their windshield, then file an exaggerated lawsuit to their insurer.

Minimum Wage Implementation – Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment raising the minimum wage to $15/hr. By 2026. The citizen-driven initiative came years after efforts to do the same failed in the Florida legislature. Now Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-Pinellas) is trying to exclude some workers from the pay hike. He’s pitching another constitutional amendment to amend the existing one that would exclude felons and people under 21 from the $15/hr. Minimum wage.

Internet Sales Tax-– Florida lawmakers are searching for spare cash in the couch cushions amid a $2 billion shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year. Now they are eying something long considered off-limits. This could be the year the legislature closes a loophole that allows out-of-state online stores to avoid Florida sales taxes.

Public Record Exemptions– Florida lawmakers are pitching several efforts to curb Florida’s open records laws. Among the notable proposals: an effort by Senator Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) to shield the addresses, telephone numbers, and birthdates of current lawmakers and cabinet members. The exemption would also apply to spouses and kids and protect their names, places of employment and schools of attendance. The bill, SB 1488. The First Amendment Foundation is also watching SB 220 which would shield applicants for state university presidencies. Final job candidates’ information wouldn’t be exempt from the state’s open records law. In all, the organization is following more than 90 record exemption bills.

Election laws- Super Voting Sites SB 774HB 635 Introduced by State Sen. George Gainer (R-Panama City) and Rep. Thomas Patterson Maney (R-Shalimar). Both Bay and Gulf Counties have used super-voting sites on Election Day since Hurricane Michael. Registered voters in the county were allowed to cast a ballot at any super-voting site, regardless of the precinct. SB 90 — Senator Dennis Baxley (R-Lady Lake) is the bill sponsor. It would require voters to request an absentee ballot every year that they want to vote by mail.

GOP vs. Big Tech– Former President Donald Trump was banned from Twitter and the social media site Parler was taken down in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. That was the last straw for Gov. Ron DeSantis who accuses social media companies of targeting conservatives. There are proposals allowing states to sue social media companies (HB 33) others requiring sites to inform people within 30 days about why their accounts have been suspended or terminated (SB 520) and a resolution asking Congress to repeal Section 230 (HM 101), which gives broad powers to social media companies.

Gambling and online sports betting: Legislative makers are once again looking to gambling revenue—through sports betting and perhaps a new compact agreement with the Seminole Indian Tribe—as a potential solution for their budget woes. Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) and Rep. Chip LaMarca (R-Lighthouse Point) have filed bills (SB 392 and HB 1317) to authorize and regulate sports betting. Those bills are both linked to a pair of measures that would create a fee structure for sports betting licenses—leading to a new potential revenue source for the state.

Talks about a new gambling agreement have been in the works since at least 2015 when the banked card game portion of the compact agreement expired. Since then, the tribe has stopped making revenue sharing payments to the state and since a court found the tribe can keep offering banked card games like blackjack without the compact agreement, getting the tribe to sign a new deal and start sending the state money again would likely mean a significant increase in the kinds of games the tribe’s casinos can offer. Senate President Wilton Simpson says talks are ongoing and approving a new compact agreement this session is not off the table.

Environment–Governor Ron DeSantis is pitching $1 billion over four years funded through bonds for state agencies and local governments to shore up their infrastructure against intensified storms, flooding, and sea-level rise. The “Resilient Florida” got a boost from House Speaker Chris Sprowls who made it one of his legislative priorities with a similar $100 million dollar a year push. The difference– Sprowls wouldn’t use bonding as a financing option. Florida lawmakers will also likely spend more money this year on ongoing Everglades restoration efforts, springs restoration, and water quality programs.

HB1 Protest bill – Gov. Ron DeSantis introduced the idea of cracking down on protests amid the summer’s social justice demonstrations. DeSantis said the proposal was aimed at curbing violence and property damage. He re-introduced the bill following the Jan. 6 assault at the U.S. Capitol. “The majority of my bill takes crimes that are already illegal like the following: assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, a battery of a law enforcement officer, burglary, and theft and puts it in the context of a riot,” says Rep. Juan Alfonso-Fernandez Barquin, (R-Miami), the bill’s House sponsor. The bill also created a new felony titled aggravated rioting which applies to groups of nine or more. The ACLU and other social and racial justice groups have called the bill an effort to curb First Amendment speech rights.