JERUSALEM, Israel (WJHG/WECP) - According to Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida now has the toughest anti-semitism law in the country. DeSantis ceremonially signed the legislation outside the US embassy in Jerusalem Wednesday.
Governor Ron DeSantis and other members of the Florida Cabinet held a meeting in Israel Wednesday. It's the first time a Florida Cabinet meeting has been held outside of the country. (WJHG/WECP)
The signing followed another controversial issue of his trade mission to Israel, a meeting of the Florida Cabinet, which first amendment advocates had attempted to stop over the state’s open meeting laws.
The out of country Cabinet meeting may have been the first of its kind.
The First Amendment Foundation filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, trying to enjoin the meeting over access issues for the public.
The Governor brushed off the criticism meeting with reporters.
"It's totally baseless and meritless. Here's the thing, sometimes we'll do Cabinet meetings on the phone. Sometimes there's not even a physical location at all, and this is being streamed; you guys [the press] are going to be there,” said DeSantis.
When the 3:30 PM meeting began, it was 8:30 AM back in the state Capitol, where a live stream played to a nearly empty Cabinet Room.
The meeting had several technical difficulties.
The opening prayer given by a Rabbi in the State Capitol was cut off abruptly when the phone went dead.
No votes were taken, except on one resolution.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said she’s certain the meeting complied with the letter of the law.
"We have been diligent in ensuring that we complied with the Sunshine Law,” said Moody.
Afterwards, the Governor held a ceremonial signing of what has been called the strongest anti-semitism law in the country.
The genesis for the legislation began when House Sponsor Representative Randy Fine was in 7th grade and failed a test.
“He went, and he asked the teacher why did I fail algebra? And the teacher said you missed a test. And I said I missed it on Yom Kippur. And that teacher said if it were a real holiday, we would have all had that off,” said Fine.
It will require educational institutions to treat anti-Jewish behavior as it would racism.
Critics have asserted simply criticizing Israel in public would violate the law, but Fine has refuted the claims.
“Being stupid is not illegal. You're allowed to be an antisemite. I wish they weren't, but you are allowed,” said Fine. "This does not say you can't be.”
The signing was ceremonial because the actual legislative documents stayed behind in the states.
Once the Governor signs the real thing the law will take effect immediately.