Florida State House Representative Allison Tant (D-FL) appeared on The Steve Stewart Show on RealTalk93.3 on Thursday to discuss the 2022 Florida legislative session.
Tant’s district covers most of downtown Tallahassee and the northern Tallahassee metropolitan area. The district includes Florida State University and the Florida State Capitol. A large college and urban population coupled with a significant number of state employees makes the district an easy win for Democrats. In 2020 Tant beat her Republican opponent by 15%.
As an elected official, Tant, a former chair of the Florida Democratic Party, must work with Republicans who control the Florida House. Tant noted that there are “more things that we agree on than we disagree on. It’s just that the splashy issues get all the attention.”
Tant said that she voted for the House budget because of “what the bill does for state employees.”
The House bill provides a 5.38% pay increase for state employees, fully funds state health insurance programs, increases the amount allocated to state retirement plans, fully funds anticipated needs of retirement plans, and allows former state employees to buy into retirement plans.
Tant also noted that the budget includes increases in pay for caregivers of people with disabilities.
When asked about the probability of Governor DeSantis supporting the state employee provisions included in the budget, Tant said, “I don’t see any reason why he would not sign the budget. He supports the increases for state employees.”
Tant said that the first half of the session was dedicated to reapportioned issues due to the requirement to redraw district lines in 2022. Based on the 2020 census numbers, each House district in Florida must have a minimum of 179,000 citizens. Based on the latest map proposal, Tant’s new district will have approximately 183,000 Floridians.
Late last year, Tant spoke out against a map proposal that could have reshaped Tallahassee’s legislative representation. It appears that proposal is no longer under consideration.
A bill aimed at increasing voting security was recently introduced by Florida Senator Travis Hutson. “Confidence in the integrity of our elections is essential to maintaining a democratic form of government,” said Hutson when filing his legislation, according to the Herald Tribune.
The new bill would increase voter identification requirements for voting by mail by requiring a voter to provide either the last four digits of their driver’s license or their social security number on the returned vote-by-mail ballots.
Tant said she was concerned that the extra steps would confuse some voters and cost more money to implement. However, Tant recognized that signature verification of vote-by-mail ballots has issues.
“As we get older our signature changes,” said Tant. “We may have to look at expanding early voting hours so more people can vote in person”
With regards to the elections security force provision of the bill, Tant noted that the original proposal has been scaled back and she commented that the 2020 election was smooth, with no major fraud issues.
Parental Rights in Education Bill
Tant said that the Parental Rights in Education proposal has “some really good provisions.” However, Tant added that she needed to spend more time reviewing the controversial provisions related to gender and sexuality.
Tant indicated she supported parental rights but said “there has to be something in place to deal with a child that is not comfortable with talking about these issues with their parents. I do feel for students who need a safe harbor. … We need to figure out how to deal with children who are struggling with gender identity and sexuality.”