DeSantis signs bills targeting child predators, ‘groomers’ | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Getting rid of groomers: that’s what Florida’s governor said he was doing Wednesday morning while signing a slate of public safety bills into law following the 2024 legislative session. All five got the governor’s signature during a stop in St. Petersburg.

“We are full, forthrightly, committed to whatever we need to do to maintain Florida as the best place to raise kids, we’re going to do it,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a news conference. “And we’re going to make sure that we keep the bad guys at bay.”

Among the list of changes DeSantis signed into law are the following:

  • (HB 1131) A new grant program to help officers catch online predators with sting operations
  • (HB 1235) Stricter guidelines for those on the sex offender registry
  • (SB 1224) New domestic violence training for officers following the 2021 killing of Gabby Petito and bolstering the state’s Guardian ad Litem Office.
  • (HB 305) Plus, higher penalties for those sex trafficking minors. 

Finally, there was HB 1545. It focuses on the creation of a third-degree felony for an adult who engages in “a pattern of communication to a minor that includes explicit and detailed verbal descriptions or narrative accounts of sexual activity…”

The governor and a majority of the Legislature backed the change. Supporters felt they were targeting and deterring “groomers” in the Sunshine State.

“We’re stepping up to say, don’t even try to do that in Florida,” DeSantis said. “You are going to face significant consequences if you do.”

There were, however, a handful of lawmakers in the Florida House that had concerns. Some worried the bill was too vague and might sweep up kids, like an 18-year-old dating someone 17.

“Members, the issue that I have with this — the previous version of this said you had to do it with lewd and lascivious intent,” Rep. Michael Gottlieb, D-Plantation, said during a debate on the bill last month. “That has been taken out.”

Though she ultimately voted in favor of the bill, Rep. Michele Rayner, D-St. Petersburg, expressed some concerns.

“There is nothing in this bill that lets me know that a state attorney cannot charge that 18-year-old person — to me it’s a child,” Rayner said.

In the end, only 11 lawmakers voted against the legislation. With the governor’s name, it’s now slated to take effect in the coming months with the other new laws. Some will become law in July while others in take effect in October but all five will happen before the new year.

And we’re not done yet. Florida’s governor teased more public safety legislation would get his signature on Thursday. We just don’t know what bill(s) yet.

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