DeSantis touts Florida's 'freedom' from COVID mandates during State of the State speech

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made it clear in his State of the State speech Tuesday that he likes teachers, first responders and freedom and he doesn’t like Dr. Anthony Fauci, critical race theory, abortion, illegal immigration and Burmese pythons.

DeSantis opened his major address with a subject he has hammered over and over again during the coronavirus pandemic: Florida won’t be a lockdown state and mandates that other states imposed to fight COVID-19 don’t work.

"Florida has become the escape hatch for those chafing under authoritarian, arbitrary and seemingly never-ending mandates and restrictions," DeSantis said. "These unprecedented policies have been as ineffective as they have been destructive. They are grounded more in blind adherence to Faucian declarations than they are in the constitutional traditions."

DeSantis, who is up for reelection in November and is eyeing a possible 2024 presidential run, laid out a conservative agenda for 2022. He said that would include keeping undocumented immigrants out of Florida, creating a law enforcement office solely dedicated to fighting election fraud, stopping schools from teaching critical race theory and protecting the unborn.

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DeSantis referred to Florida being a free state 10 times during the 33-minute speech, often interrupted by applause from Republican lawmakers as the Legislature opened its annual 60-day session.

The governor said his policies have made Florida a leader in job growth and that rising state revenue puts the state in a good position for drafting its next budget.

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