If the Legislature fails to act, DeSantis will drop challenges to lawsuits on both those issues, effectively letting the courts resolve them instead of lawmakers. He said he would prefer not to do that.
“I want to have the elected representatives write the law in a way the people intended, so we’ll give them a couple of weeks in session to address the smoking issue, and if they don’t do it, we’re going to dismiss the case and move on,” DeSantis said.
He addressed the media in Winter Park, near Orlando, standing alongside personal injury John Morgan. Morgan led the effort to put the medical marijuana constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot. It was approved by more than 71 percent of voters.
Morgan is also the person who sued the state over the smoking ban, publicizing it with the slogan, “No smoke is a joke.”
“What’s next is no smoke is no longer a joke. It’s a victory for the people of Florida,” Morgan said before the press conference. “Litigation should always be the last resort … Negotiation should be the best resort. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to step back a few inches, give them a chance to get it right and if they don’t get it right, then they’re going to get it another way.”
A circuit court judge ruled in May that the smoking ban is unconstitutional, but then-Gov. Rick Scott appealed the decision. DeSantis replaced fellow Republican Scott, who is now a U.S. senator, earlier this month.
DeSantis also said he wants the amended law to address licensing limits that are also subjects of lawsuits.
“They created a cartel, essentially,” he said. “That is not good policy, so I’d like them to address that as well.”
Florida’s new Republican legislative leaders, Senate President Bill Galvano and House Speaker Jose Oliva, said they’ll work with DeSantis to amend the law. Galvano said in a news release that implementing the constitutional amendment “has been an ongoing problem mired in complex and protracted legal challenges.”
“Governor DeSantis has indicated that he prefers a legislative solution rather than a judicial order to bring the issue of implementation of the amendment to a conclusion. A legislative solution has always been my preferred course of action, and we will certainly honor the Governor’s request,” Galvano said.
The annual legislative session begins March 5.