Senate President Passidomo Points to Housing, Wildlife Corridor as Priorities

Senate President Passidomo Points to Housing, Wildlife Corridor as Priorities

By Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — Armed with a large majority, Naples Republican Kathleen Passidomo outlined what she described as a voter-supported “conservative agenda” as she became Florida Senate president Tuesday.

Passidomo, who was formally elected president during an organization session of the Legislature, stressed a need to expand parental rights and a state wildlife corridor, address workforce housing and respond to Hurricane Ian, which caused massive damage in her Southwest Florida district.

“We each have a responsibility to the voters who elected us,” Passidomo said. “And those voters overwhelmingly support the conservative agenda of fiscal responsibility, protecting parents’ rights, honoring the dignity of work, and expanding education opportunities for our students. That will drive our work for the next two years.”

The organization session included swearing in lawmakers, in addition to Passidomo and new House Speaker Paul Renner taking the gavels.

Passidomo called Renner a “great partner, describing him as “a quiet and thoughtful man with unquestionable integrity.”

She also praised Gov. Ron DeSantis, who appeared in the House and Senate during the session, saying “we are grateful for your leadership.”

Senate Republicans added four seats in the Nov. 8 elections to give them a 28-12 “supermajority” that procedurally will prevent Democrats from being able to slow down or block legislation.

Sen. Corey Simon, a Tallahassee Republican who defeated incumbent Democrat Loranne Ausley in this month’s election, seconded Passidomo’s nomination as president Tuesday and said lawmakers will work to expand vocational opportunities, address the cost of living for first responders and work against “cancel culture that rejects the foundational roles of faith and family.”

Simon said lawmakers don’t have “just a mandate, but a responsibility to preserve access to the American Dream.”

Passidomo took over as president as abortion opponents chanted “baby lives matter” and “protection at conception” in the Capitol’s fourth-floor rotunda.

Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, D-Davie, said Democrats await Passidomo’s proposals about workforce housing and the wildlife corridor, but otherwise will “fight back as much and as hard as we can” against the conservative agenda.

Book, who became leader in 2021, was installed for another two years during a ceremony Monday.

Speaking to reporters later after Tuesday’s session, Passidomo said lawmakers will wait to make any abortion changes until after the Florida Supreme Court acts on a challenge to a new state law that prevents abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“Everybody knows my position on the exception for rape and incest,” Passidomo said. “I wanted to get that in the bill. When we did the 15 weeks, it didn’t get in the bill. But there’s really nothing to do until the Supreme Court rules.”

Passidomo, a New Jersey native who entered the House in 2010 and was first elected to the Senate in 2016, is the third woman to lead the chamber.

Addressing former Senate President Toni Jennings, who held the powerful office from 1996 to 2000 and gave the opening benediction on Tuesday, Passidomo said she was “honored and humbled to carry on the strong legacy of women leadership in the Florida Senate.”

Tuesday’s largely ceremonial session returned much of the pageantry that was lost when new leaders and lawmakers took office two years ago. At that time, the Capitol was closed to the public because of COVID-19.

With the Senate seating gallery nearly full, new lawmakers mingled Tuesday on the floor with family members and former legislators.

Also unlike two years ago, lawmakers aren’t facing the prospects of financial fallout from the pandemic. With unemployment down, the state’s coffers are flush with federal stimulus money and higher-than-expected tax revenues.

During her address to the Senate, Passidomo, who is working on legislation that would tie financial incentives to mixed-use housing, connected workforce housing with inflation.

“If our workers don’t have safe and affordable places to live and raise their families, we will not be able to recruit and retain the workforce we need in the Sunshine State,” Passidomo said.

Passidomo also emphasized the wildlife corridor, which is planned as a network of about 17 million acres of greenspace, including about 10 million acres of conservation lands, running up the center of the state.

Passidomo said her goal is to expand the corridor to include a trail network.

“I believe that 50 years from now our children and grandchildren will say that the greatest thing the Florida Legislature did in the 2020s was the creation of the wildlife corridor and the preservation of millions of acres of farmland and ranch land for conservation,” Passidomo said. “It will be our Central Park.”

11 Responses to "Senate President Passidomo Points to Housing, Wildlife Corridor as Priorities"

  1. I don’t see Passidomo as a hard core conservative. On the Florida Channel, she said she wanted “affordable housing” to be in the same neighborhood as the rest of the community (I do not remember her exact words). I do not want low-income housing anywhere near my plantation. Low income housing destroys home values and brings in lots of crime.

  2. On this Thanksgiving Day take a very brief moment to contimplate what The Senate President’s priorities would have been had The Great And Free State of Florida elected a Democrat majority to the Senate, the House, and our Govorner’s Office.


    “OK enough of this mental anguish”.

    Thankfully that is not our problem!!!!

  3. @ Inyra… I don’t see where any commentator was/is trying to tell a rape victim what or what not to do. What I do see is a rational and reasonable discussion about some particulars of an important and sensitive topic.

    Additionally, what I see from you is an attempt to shut down any discussion on said topic… when one is incapable of participating in a rational and reasonable discussion, one simply slanders and attempts to censor opposing thoughts… a classic Marxicrat move

    Happy Thanksgiving all… enjoy and love on your family and friends… especially the children.

  4. @Inyra, I have the right to think and say whatever I want to whomever I want (without being raped). That is the difference between a citizen, and a subject. So, suck it up Buttercup…

  5. Until after every one of you commenters is raped, you have no right to even think about telling a rape victim what they should or shouldn’t, must or must not do.

  6. As a man, I won’t pretend that I fully understand why a woman wouldn’t report such a heinous crime committed against their person, and thus won’t attempt to argue the point. My concern is that if it is offered as an honor system structure, and given the rabid mentality that exists in many within the “pro death” crowd, it will simply be used/abused much like the race card has been… just a frivolous claim that leads to a desired result. Never forget that at the core of the Marxicrat mentality is a machiavellian belief that the end justifies the means. They simply don’t care if the innocent are hurt, harmed, or even killed… so long as their dangerous and warped ideology is advanced. You cannot give them an inch, for they will surely steal a foot.

  7. Some women are probably afraid to report the rape to the police, therefore, the politicians will probably make it the honor system. But, who knows? They haven’t said, as far as I know. And, as far as I know, they haven’t said what the pregnancy term limit would be, if any.

  8. I recognize the need for both limits and exceptions when it come to the tragedy of abortion. As I’ve noted before, it is the immovable extremes that have kept the issue as a political softball with no sign of any sort of resolution. That said…

    IMO… the rape and incest exception should not be based on the honor system – and furthermore – must be accompanied/supported by a formal and verifiable police report/case number, and preferably an arrest. If it is determined that the female made a false claim just to get an abortion, then she should be charged with premeditated first-degree murder.

    A bit terse perhaps… but so is murdering an innocent baby.

  9. I have a couple of questions regarding the proposed rape and incest exception to the modest 15 week abortion restriction.

    1. Is there a limit to the exception and if so what is the limit? 20 weeks? 30 weeks? 40 weeks? after birth?

    2. Is the exception going to be applied on the honor system or is the woman going to have to produce a police report?

    If there is no limit on the exception and it is applied on the honor system (not saying it shouldn’t be), the result would, in effect, be no restrictions on abortions in the State of Florida. If that’s the case, politicians and supporters should be honest about that and not play games. If that’s not the case, they need to clarify what they have in mind and stop talking in vague terms.

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