DeSantis Vetoes Near-Unanimous Criminal Justice Reform Bill

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed a GOP-backed criminal justice reform bill that passed both houses of the Florida state legislature with almost unanimous support.

DeSantis issued the veto Tuesday, but he did not provide his reasoning for axing the bill.

The legislation would have amended the a Florida statute involving the expungement of criminal records.

Currently, law prevents an individual from seeking an additional expungement if they have previously received a sealing or expungement within the last 10 years.

The bill would have added another exception for individuals who previously received an expungement for offenses committed while they were a minor. It would not apply to minors who were charged as adults.

The legislation was initially introduced by state Representative David Smith (R).

It passed the state House with a vote of 107-2 and passed the state Senate unanimously.

Smith told the Tampa Bay Times that he considers criminal record expungement a workforce issue. He said the bill would allow people to “work at the highest level they’re capable of”.

Smith sent a statement to the Times after DeSantis vetoed the bill.

“I’m disappointed that HB605 was vetoed, but remain committed to good justice reform policy that gives deserving Floridians second chances.”

He told The Hill that he would not push for a veto override at this time.

“Although I was not given any explanation for the veto from the Governor’s staff, I was told by a senior staff member that they would work with me on improving the bill language before the 2024 legislative session with the expectation of having the bill signed into law next year,” he said.

Some people familiar with DeSantis’ thinking told NBC News the governor may have issued the veto to avoid looking soft on crime compared to his 2024 primary opponents.

DeSantis has previously said he would push Congress to repeal the First Step Act, signed by former President Trump, which lowered mandatory minimum sentences and expanded good behavior credits.

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