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FL Dems skeptical of DeSantis's state guard proposal

Gov. Ron DeSantis announcing Florida State Guard proposal 12/2/21. Image: DeSantis on Twitter
Gov. Ron DeSantis announcing Florida State Guard proposal 12/2/21. Image: DeSantis on Twitter

Florida Democratic lawmakers are reacting to Gov. Ron DeSantis’s proposal to form a state civilian military force that answers to him.

DeSantis made the announcement last week.

The Florida State Guard would be called up during emergencies to offer support, quote, “in ways not encumbered by the federal government,” according to a statement from DeSantis's office.

The governor’s budget asks for $3.5 million to establish the guard and begin training 200 civilian members.

The concept isn’t new – 22 states have similar guards, and Florida had one in the 1940s to augment the Florida National Guard when many members left to serve in World War II.

But Orlando-based state House Rep. Anna Eskamani says DeSantis’s desire for a new state guard isn’t happening in a vacuum.

"This is a governor that has pursued legislation to criminalize acts of protesting," she says. "This is a governor who has called the media 'fake news' and continues to perpetuate polarizing rhetoric and tension between both political parties. He doesn’t seem to have the best interests of Floridians in mind."

Eskamani says the move also aligns with DeSantis’s rumored Republican presidential ambitions.

She says while there is money in the governor’s proposed budget for the Florida National Guard, she feels the funds DeSantis requested would be better spent on that existing organization, which has been essential during the pandemic.

DeSantis says the State Guard will further support the Florida National Guard during hurricanes and other emergencies.

Nicole came to Central Florida to attend Rollins College and started working for Orlando’s ABC News Radio affiliate shortly after graduation. She joined WMFE in 2010. As a field reporter, news anchor and radio show host in the City Beautiful, she has covered everything from local arts to national elections, from extraordinary hurricanes to historic space flights, from the people and procedures of Florida’s justice system to the changing face of the state’s economy.