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State of State: DeSantis highlights hurricane, pandemic responses ahead of expected presidential bid

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — For the fifth time in 12 months, Florida lawmakers are back in Tallahassee, this time for the regular session.

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With a supermajority in the house and senate, the GOP has a long list of priorities, including a new abortion bill.

Many people see this regular session as a kick-off for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ expected presidential run.

It is no secret that the governor had been laying the groundwork for a presidential bid. In fact, DeSantis will be heading to Iowa later this week, a key state in the early Republican primary season.

WATCH: Gov. DeSantis delivers State of the State address ahead of Florida legislative session

But before he can announce a presidential campaign, lawmakers need to tend to the business of the state.

“Florida is number one, and working together, we will ensure that Florida remains the number one state in the United States,” DeSantis said during Tuesday’s legislative session.

In his remarks, the governor highlighted the state’s response to hurricanes Ian and Nicole, while also taking aim at COVID-19 and vaccines.

READ: Florida’s 2023 legislative session: Lawmakers plan to tackle these 9 key issues

“We defied the experts, we bucked the elites, we ignore the chatter,” DeSantis said. “We did our way the Florida way”

On the issues ahead of the legislature this session, the governor threw his support behind insurance litigation changes and an expansion of school vouchers for K-12, while also renewing his push for overhauling state universities and banning in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants.

READ: Florida blogger registration bill ‘insane,’ Gingrich tweets

For Florida Democrats who have seen their power diminished to its lowest level in more than a decade, there is little they can do to stop or change the agenda, other than raise concerns.

“Banning books, that’s not freedom, limiting protest against the government, that’s not freedom,” Sen. Lauren Book (D – Broward County) said. “Claiming to be pro-business yet attacking Florida’s businesses, both big and small -- that is not freedom.”

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.

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