- [Announcer] This is a production of WEDU PBS, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota.
- [Rob] Next on WEDU, the state moves closer to a near total ban on abortion.
Women's pay in the Tampa Bay area is among the lowest in the nation.
Tallahassee tries to make more public records secret and a central Florida lawmaker has some harsh words for transgender people.
All this and more next on, "Florida this week."
- And I'm offended that people can come before this committee and try to intimidate us and try to strike fear into us.
It's time to push back.
(uplifting music) - Welcome back, joining us on the panel this week, Travis Horn is the President and CEO of Bullhorn Communications and a Republican.
Mike Deeson is an independent journalist and an author.
Anders Croy is the communications director for DeSantis Watch and Kenya Woodard is an independent journalist.
And thank you all for doing the program, nice to see you.
Well late Thursday night, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Florida's tough new anti-abortion ban into law just hours after it got final approval from the house.
Among other things, the legislation will end Florida's status as an abortion haven in the south, stopping thousands of women from traveling here from neighboring states for the procedure.
- [Announcer] The bill to limit a woman's right to legal abortion in Florida to just six weeks, has exceptions for rape, incest and human trafficking.
Passage came just a year after the legislature approved a 15 week ban.
In the house, Democrats tried to limit the impact of the bill by introducing at least 58 amendments.
However, all were blocked by the Republican super majority.
While there hasn't been any recent polling on how Floridians feel about a six week abortion ban, national polls have shown increased opposition to abortion restrictions in this post-Roe era.
One poll conducted last month by Reuters of more than 4400 adults showed that 65% of respondents, including 46% of Republicans, and 68% of independents, said they were less likely to vote for a presidential candidate in 2024 who supports laws banning or severely restricting abortion access.
And because of the ongoing court case against Florida's previous 15 week limit, this new six week ban will not go into effect immediately, until the fate of the previous ban is decided.
Anders, let me start with you.
What do you think about the decision by the governor and the legislature to move ahead with the six week ban?
- I think what we saw last night by the governor was frankly, a very cowardly act.
He went behind closed doors in his office in the dead of night, while many Floridians were sleeping and signed a bill that he knows is incredibly unpopular.
A six week abortion ban is a near total abortion ban.
This strips away bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom from millions of Floridians before many women even know that they are pregnant.
I think this bill is a major mistake by the governor because it's going to be incredibly unpopular among the majority of folks, but it's just another sign of his ongoing and impending campaign for president as he tries to appeal to those on the furthest right in other primary states, rather than actually doing what's best for the people of Florida.
- Travis, what do you think of the ban and do you think it's gonna impact the governor as he prepares to run for president?
- Well, I mean, it could do that.
I wouldn't characterize it as a near total ban.
There's still a considerable window.
Also, if research suggests that most of the abortions taking place are medicinal things like the Plan B pill, the morning after pill.
So I mean, it could, if the numbers that that you're talking about there in the poll bear out, it could impact him in the general election, certainly, yeah.
- You know, I think that in some ways the Democrats should thank the Republicans and they need to be patient, let me explain why.
The folks that wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade, waited for years and years and years and finally got it to happen.
When Dobbs came down from the Supreme Court, look what happened politically.
Look what happened in Kansas, in Wisconsin, in Michigan.
This is the death now for the Republican party.
This and guns and Generation Z and reproductive rights, this is such an unpopular position for the rest of the country.
The Democrats have to be patient because there is going to be feedback to stop this.
And let me say one other thing, it won't stop abortions.
When I was in college in the 60s, I'm older than dirt, I knew women who had abortions and I knew two women, one of whom was fine, the other had the abortion in St. Louis, I was in the University of Missouri, came back to school and then had to go into emergency surgery to have a hysterectomy.
It won't stop abortions.
- Well see, I'm frankly surprised at the lack of noise on this issue.
And then, you know, when you talk about doing the dead of night, there were a lot of people in there in the room with him when they signed this bill.
So I don't know when it passed, how long it took to make it to his desk, but I don't think that he was, he's not trying to hide anything about.
- It got passed Thursday afternoon and then 10:30 on Thursday night he signed it, Kenya?
- Yeah, a couple of things.
To your point, it won't stop abortions.
However, in the meantime, does that mean that now abortion becomes a cottage industry?
And then also, how many more women or people who have children, give birth, have to suffer, die before things are back in the reverse?
So I think this actually and for those of us who have been paying attention, it does not fail to remind us that this comes on the week where we are observing black maternal health.
And so, which, you know, obviously brings attention to reproductive rights, justice, human rights and then also other rights related to abortion access and healthcare in general for black women.
So people who will be hardest hit in the state by this particular law.
will be black Floridians, particularly black women.
- Two other points.
One, at six weeks, most women don't know they're pregnant.
And secondly, you talked about the pill that a Texas judge had just ruled this week is illegal throughout the country.
And that'll eventually be held in the Supreme Court.
So there's not necessarily an alternative.
- And Anders, you're up there in Tallahassee, there are some restrictions on medicinal abortions that are included in this bill, right?
- That is my understanding.
There are limits on telehealth that are gonna be put into law in this bill.
But I also wanna make the point about the politics around this, which is that with this governor, what we've often seen is that when he is proud of legislation and we saw this with the universal voucher bill a few weeks ago, he holds giant press conferences where he signs this with cheering fans, with supporters.
What he did this time, was he flew back from essentially campaigning for president in Ohio yesterday and instead of trying to help the folks who are being affected by the severe flooding in South Florida, went into his office behind closed doors, sent a press release and a tweet at 11PM that he had essentially checked off another item on his Iowa checklist for the campaign, rather than trying to make a big deal of this and present it to Floridians as something that's going to be beneficial to all of us.
- Travis, I gotta ask you about Mike's point, that this is the death note for the Republican Party.
what do you say?
- You know, this is a red state.
Again, I'm surprised that the lack of noise on this issue, I thought there there might be more as well, but it doesn't seem to be a clamor out there for it.
- Okay, I guess we'll see.
Well Axios reported this week that Tampa Bay has some of the worst paying areas in the nation for women according to a new study.
- [Announcer] The financial website, Smartest Dollar published an analysis last week of the most recent federal data and it found that women's pay in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater came in 45th lowest, out of 56 large metro areas.
Women working full-time in the Tampa Bay area make a median annual wage of $46,400.
That's much lower compared to the national median of $49,200.
Florida was ranked last out of all 50 states with women's median wage being 41,600.
The national median wage for men is $60,400.
The analysis did not provide localized data for men.
Nationally, women earn roughly 18% less than men.
That number has not changed much for the last 20 years.
- Kenya, why do you think things are so bad for women in Tampa Bay?
- Well, let me point out, I read a study by an economist named Dr. Laura D'Andrea Tyson and she pointed out that the factors behind these types of studies, several things.
First of all, obviously discrimination, right?
Bias, implicit bias and things of that nature.
But then also how women participate in the workplace.
For most of us, motherhood, being caregivers, leads us to either stepping out completely or doing part-time work and that can affect how we are paid as well.
And then also what comes into play is, excuse me, you get hit with certain penalties for certain things, motherhood being one of them, right?
So when you come back into the workplace, you're already dinged because you stepped out for so much time to take care of your children.
Men are just not regarded in that same way.
In fact, it's almost a bonus for men in some ways to have to remove themselves from a workplace to take care of kids or whatever the case may be.
Once they come back in, they're much more embraced, more than women are.
So I guess the question is, what's the solution, actually?
Because we know also in most cases, women are not encouraged to negotiate further pay.
Sometimes that can also affect how we're paid as well.
So I guess the question is, what are the solutions?
We kind of know what some of the, you know, reasons are, but what are we gonna do about it?
- Anders, what's your take on that?
What are some solutions that might be out there?
- Well, I think it's a symptom of the state as a whole.
If you look at Department of Labor Bureau Statistics, every county in the state of Florida, the weekly median wage is less than the national average.
And that's a sign of what Florida's economy is built on, which is a service industry sort of based economy.
A lot of low wage jobs, because the largest corporations in the state of Florida go to the legislature and they keep our wages low.
We're seeing that right now with one of the largest union busting bills ever in this country that is moving its way through the legislature at the behest of the governor.
Again, that bill is going to also hit women disproportionately because they work in a lot of jobs that are gonna be affected by that.
They work in the service industry, they work in hotels, in hospitals, also in care positions and it's really just a symptom of the economy that we've built here in the state.
- My first thought, when I saw this storyline, I thought to myself, well, we're in a red state, but we're in a deep blue city, how could this be?
This is Tampa Bay, this is a deep blue city.
So, you know, look, my mom, she was in banking for many years in the 70s and 80s, when I think from the stories she tells me it was relatively tough to be a woman in the banking industry, right?
And so, I have a little girl, I don't wanna see her having the same discussion in 20 years, right?
I don't understand it, for me, it boggles the mind.
If I see a woman that I wanna hire, I'm gonna offer the same thing I'm gonna offer a guy.
- Travis, I know you're not hostile to unions because you represent some unions but, if the state is going after the Teacher's Union for instance and the Public Employees Unions in this latest session, could we see things get even worse?
A lot of teachers are women.
- Well, you know, look, people have an ability to organize and they should.
If they wanna organize, they should be able to do that.
So, I'm not familiar with this so-called union busting bill.
I don't think that any kind of union busting bill is gonna be terribly successful that, look, the Teachers Unions and conservative Republicans like Jeb, remember how much they fought and bankrupted, the Teachers Union bankrupt themselves fighting Jeb Bush over charter schools and grading schools.
So I think unions are gonna be just fine.
- Anders I gotta ask you, is the bill that goes after the Teachers Union and the Public Employees Union, is it likely to pass this session?
- It is Rob, it's already passed the State Senate.
Five Republicans did defect on that bill, that's how bad it is overall.
It is moving its way through the house right now.
But I wanna touch on the blue city comments as well, because the problem is that most of the things that a city like Tampa or like St. Petersburg would do to improve wages have been preempted here in Tallahassee by the Republican legislature.
That's why we don't have things like local wage theft ordinances, like paid time off.
Things that can make life better for workers are constantly brought down by folks in Tallahassee instead of letting our local leaders have that freedom to pick their own people up.
- Okay well, Florida has long been a leader in the nation for government in the sunshine.
But in the last several years, the legislature in Tallahassee has moved to limit public access to government records.
- [Announcer] In the latest move, Florida lawmakers are pushing legislation that would conceal the governor's travel records.
Both the House and Senate have bills that would keep secret records held by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement related to security or transportation services for the governor, his family and other state officials.
The governor's been traveling extensively out of state in recent months as he prepares for a possible run for president.
- The governor was visiting Ohio on Thursday, he returned to Tallahassee for the abortion bill signing on Thursday night and Friday he was again traveling out of state, this time to Virginia and New Hampshire.
Republicans and Democrats criticized DeSantis for leaving the state while Fort Lauderdale was hit with record flooding.
The governor's office says the state's response to the emergency is in full swing and the governor has been in contact with mayors and emergency officials in Fort Lauderdale.
So Mike, does the public have the right to know where the governor travels to?
- Absolutely, particularly we have the right to know if we're paying for the state plane, for the gas, for personnel to go along with it.
I'm on the board of the First Amendment Foundation and we fight with the legislature to keep the laws open.
The governor hates the media, he really does.
He doesn't do many interviews except to very friendly media and all and he tries to keep it, everything cloistered.
It's so important that we know.
Let me give you a couple of examples.
When Lawton Chiles was Governor of Florida, we found out that he was using the state plane to go to a campaign event for Bill Clinton.
Well, okay, that's great, but we shouldn't be paying for that.
Jim Scott, who was the President of the Senate, was using a state plane to fly home every weekend, that was against the law.
Charlie Crist went to a fundraiser down in Miami for himself, we paid for it.
So we should know if we're talking about government in the sunshine, we have every right to know and they talk about security, okay.
I understand the need for security for the governor, although when Jeb Bush was governor, we didn't need that and his brother was the President of the United States and we had a Department of Homeland Security.
But, but let's say that we need to, because things have stepped up to have it a little bit more cloistered prior to the trip, but after the governor has gone on his trip or anybody else has used the state plane, there's absolutely no reason.
It's preposterous to think that we shouldn't know how our state money is being spent on an expensive plane, people who have gone along with him and the people that he takes on the trips along with him.
They also want to cut off the ability to find out who comes to the Governor's Mansion, who's greasing the wheels.
- Yeah, we'll be asking, where is Ron DeSantis?
Where in the world is Ron DeSantis?
We'll be asking that a lot, but a couple of things, also nestled within this is a little passage that states that also whoever visits the Governor's Mansion can be concealed as well, why?
Why is that?
You know, I think it's really important to know who's coming and going, is it on official business, is it personal, whatever?
And then also maybe, you know, maybe the answer is for DeSantis to pull what Rick Scott did was just sell the planes and just fly his own plane anyways, so.
- Travis, what do you think?
- Well, you know, as I've said, I don't support limitations on open government.
You know, I think that we need to be able to see everything and it needs to be in the sunshine.
Again, look, I've said on election night, the governor's gonna be running for president.
So there's a lot of inertia behind that.
He is gonna be traveling.
I suspect that he will be doing that.
I suspect he may even eventually earn the nomination.
But we're gonna do it in the sunshine.
And I don't, again, I'm one Republican who just doesn't support limitations on speech or access to public records by news persons.
- Anders, there are some Republicans that believe in this concept of deep state, and they follow QAnon.
They think something secret is happening.
Yet here you've got some Republicans in Tallahassee trying to cover up more of what the government's doing.
What's your take on this?
- Well, I think it's a bad bill for all the reasons that folks have been outlining.
You know, the Governor's Mansion should be The People's Mansion.
We should have a say and a know in where our government officials are traveling, who they're meeting with.
One of the things about this, while this is certainly at the behest of the governor, this bill also as written and colludes and covers the Senate president, the House speaker, all of the cabinet members.
So it's not just the governor's travel and it's not just who's meeting with the governor that's gonna potentially be taken out of public view.
This is essentially cutting off the people of Florida from a lot of accountability measures for those who are the most powerful people in state government and I think it's a bad bill that people should absolutely be calling the representatives about.
- Okay, well Republican State Representative Webster Barnaby of Deltona made national headlines this week when he likened transgender people to mutants from X-Men movies and called them demons and imps.
He later apologized.
- The Lord rebuke you, Satan and all of your demons and all of your imps who come and parade before us.
That's right, I called you demons and imps.
- [Announcer] Barnaby made the comments to members of the public, including some transgender people who spoke against the Safety and Private Spaces Act, that's House Bill 1521.
The bill would require people to use public restrooms that correspond with their sex assigned at birth, effectively, barring transgender people from facilities that match their gender identity.
The USA Today Florida network reports that should the bill become law, Representative Barnaby's remarks could help legal challenges against it.
The challenges could come under a concept known as unconstitutional animus.
That's when a law is designed to disadvantage a certain group of people.
- Yeah, Representative Barnaby said he didn't know what gender dysphoria was.
Here's a definition of gender dysphoria from Psychology Today.
Gender dysphoria is defined by strong persistent feelings of identification with another gender and discomfort with one's own assigned gender and sex.
2022 Pew Research Center survey finds that 1.6% of US adults are transgender or non-binary.
That's their gender differs from the sex that they were assigned at birth.
And a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that gender dysphoria manifests early in childhood, usually by the age of seven.
The findings also reveal that untreated gender dysphoria can result in poor quality of life for transgender people beginning in childhood and lasting through adolescence and adulthood.
So, Travis, I know there's a lot of people that support this bill, but at the same time, could it be that there's a lack of understanding?
- Well, I don't know about lack of, I'd like to see the comments in the run up to the representatives reply there.
I mean, I'm glad, not many youngsters probably watching your show or tuning in and it's, you know, look, it's if you had a penis or you have a penis, you go to the men's room.
If you have a vagina, go to the women's room.
I don't, I certainly wouldn't encourage our public officials to call someone a demon in a public forum, you know, which again, is what would Jesus do?
You know, love people, express your opinion.
Again, I have a four year old, I don't want a man going in the bathroom with her.
I think that's what led up to a lot of this.
There's been a lot of activism, coming from the left on the part of transgender.
We've seen all the kids being read to by drag queens.
And I, again, I'm gonna go with DeSantis and my Republican party on this one, on this one, I'm gonna go with them, okay?
- Yeah okay, great.
There's a lot of noise coming from the left, but I mean, it's the right side that's bringing up all these issues, you know, drag queens and you know, all these things.
Meanwhile, I had conversation with House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell earlier this week.
Meanwhile, regular Floridians are worried about, you know, homeowner's insurance spiking.
affordable housing being available and accessible, Medicaid expansion.
These are the things that they're really focused on.
- I'd rather be talking about Biden inflation too.
I really would, I really, let's talk about the economy.
- The inflation is dropping, by the way.
- Yeah, it is.
- But still, we worry about all this stuff about as you said, the drag queens, banning books, all of this.
I haven't seen much damage done by that, but still, the legislature passed a bill and the governor signed it, for a concealed carry for the state.
We're ignoring the guns, the things that kill our kids.
When your four year old goes to school, will you feel comfortable every day that she's gonna be okay?
That you'll be able to pick her up?
That's what every parent who dropped off their kid at one of those schools where there was a shooting.
We are ignoring such a serious problem to focus on something that doesn't affect people.
- I don't feel like she'll be less safe because of the recent concealed carry alterations.
- You think it makes it more safe?
- More law abiding citizens carrying guns.
- Alright Anders, you get the last word on this, you have about 30 seconds, what's your take on it?
- I think that free states don't ban people from being their authentic selves.
I think free states don't ban people from getting the medical care that they think they believe.
I think there's been a lot of transphobic rhetoric both from the governor's office and within the legislature around a lot of this legislation.
Attacks on the LQBTQ+ community failed nationwide last year.
And they're gonna fail here in the state of Florida when people find out how hateful and discriminatory their legislature is been.
- All right well, before we go, what other news story should we be paying attention to?
Travis, your other big story of the week.
- My big story of the week is the Rays, they set a record that won't be surpassed for decades to come.
- Yeah, what a great story that is, all right.
Mike, your other big story.
- Okay, putting on my investigative hat, I got an ad in my phone from Charlie Miranda running for Tampa City Council saying he does not support homosexuals.
Well, I talked to Charlie today.
He didn't put that ad in.
I talked to his opponent, Hoyt Prindle and I also talked to the advertising agency.
Nobody returned my calls.
Hoyt wrote back to me, he said, there's been a lot of attack ads against me and all.
And I said, "But did you or your people pay for this ad?"
He wouldn't answer that question.
It is a disgusting ad, it's false advertising.
It looks like it's a Charlie Miranda ad and it's coming from, I assume the opposition because they wouldn't deny it.
- There's a lot of dirty stuff happening in that Tampa City election.
All right, Travis, I mean, Anders, your other big story.
- Well, we've talked about the governor traveling to Ohio this week, to Virginia, to New Hampshire.
He's also speaking today by video to the National Rifle Association Convention in Indianapolis.
He's doing that a few weeks after signing the permitless carry bill that was referenced a few minutes ago.
That bill is opposed by over 70% of Floridians according to a University of North Florida poll.
It's gonna make us less safe, but it shows who the governor's true constituents are.
- Okay Kenya, your other big story.
- Yeah so it appears the Missouri legislature is on the way to defund libraries and as a former library page, I'm pretty sad to hear that, but it also, you know, makes me wonder if there's something in the midst that could come this way.
- What's the reason, what's the reason they give for defunding libraries?
- Well, it appears that the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the state because of the book banning.
And so the premise is that the state should not be in support because of course the Library Association in the state of Missouri has signed on as a friend to that lawsuit.
And so, of course the thinking is that the state should not be actively participating in any lawsuits against them.
So hence let's go ahead and defund all of the libraries, which I think is kind of absurd.
- We do have a minute left.
Travis, do you think that book banning, I mean, the way the Progressives and the left describe it in Florida, is that we have book banning and it's a danger to Florida.
This new picture book about Anne Frank.
It's one of the books that's being taken off the shelves of school libraries.
- No book about Anne Frank should be banned from our libraries.
But I am, you know, again, as the father of a four-year-old, I want to have a say in what's carried in her library.
And I certainly don't want some of the books and some of the excerpts that I have read and we've talked about before on this show, are not something that I want my four year old or even an 18 year old or 16 year old reading, you know?
- It's not only Anne Frank, it's in 1984 Fahrenheit 451, if you go to some of the bookstores, they have a section of banned books.
Those were required reading when I was in high school school.
- I think in fairness, Fahrenheit in 1984 not being banned in Florida right now, but there are some books that are being banned in Florida by famous authors and Anders, what's your take on this?
We have just a few seconds.
- Well, I think, you know, we all believe that parents should have a right to be involved in their child's education.
But the way the law was written, it's not parents who are challenging these books most of the time, it's just any random person.
And I just think that is a horrible way to run that system.
- Okay well thank you all for a great show and a civil discussion and thank you for joining us.
Send us your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can view this and past shows online at wedu.org or on the PBS app.
And, "Florida This Week," is now available as a podcast.
From all of us here at WEDU, have a great weekend and go Rays.
(intense music) (intense music continues) - [Announcement] "Florida This Week," is a production of WEDU, who is solely responsible for it's content.