Talks Continue on Florida Kids Social Media Ban

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(TNS) — A plan is in the works to revise the social media ban for children under 16 being pushed by House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, if he can come up with language that addresses the concerns of Gov. Ron DeSantis and avoid a political showdown.

“The speaker and governor are working together on language … to fix the concerns that the governor has with HB1,” Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, said Thursday. “My understanding is that they are in a really good spot.”

As described by Passidomo, the way forward would be for DeSantis to veto the bill and then add the agreed-upon language to a bill with similar subject matter, HB 3, which was already unanimously approved by the full House and sent to the Senate.

“I feel confident that something is going to happen like that,” Passidomo said.

The deadline for DeSantis to veto or sign the original bill is Friday.

HB 3 will be put on the Senate’s fiscal policy committee for a vote on Monday before the full Senate can take it up for a floor vote.

Just last week, the same day both chambers approved HB1, DeSantis said he was still concerned it wasn’t ready and needed work to pass constitutional muster and protect parental rights.

“You have to strike that proper balance when you are looking at these things between policy that is helping parents get to where they want to go versus policy that may be just outright overruling parents,” DeSantis said during a news conference last week. “We’ll be wrestling with that.”

According to a legislative analysis, people under 16 would be prohibited from setting up accounts on most social media platforms. Any existing accounts owned by minors under 16 would be terminated.

Platforms regulated by the bill must require age verification before permitting people to use them. It targets social media that uses addictive, harmful or deceptive design features that would make the user compulsively engaged. Such features include infinite scrolling, continuous loading of content, push notifications and personal interactive features.

Opponents of the bill said it is unconstitutional and would infringe on First Amendment rights. A similar law requiring age verification in Arkansas was struck down as unconstitutional last September.

DeSantis is not afraid to use his veto powers to kill bills he believes are bad policy. Last year he vetoed a Republican-sponsored criminal reform package that had support from both parties. In 2022, he vetoed an alimony reform bill, but signed a similar bill into law a year later.

In 2022, he also vetoed a rooftop solar bill supported by FPL and other investor-owned utilities and opposed by solar developers.

And in 2020, he vetoed a bill banning the sale of nearly all flavored electronic cigarette products and raising the smoking age from 18 to 21.

Without a satisfactory resolution, the governor’s veto could trigger a test of wills where the House and Senate could consider the extremely rare act of overriding him. An override would require a two-thirds majority of both chambers. The House has enough votes to do it, but the Senate doesn’t.

Passidomo said she has spoken with both Renner and DeSantis, who both have strong positions on the matter, but “I don’t see them as incompatible.”

©2024 Orlando Sentinel, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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