DeSantis takes aim at drag show, LGBTQ anti-discrimination rules and “woke” investing

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What do drag shows, environmentally-friendly financial investing and LGBTQ anti-discrimination rules all have in common?

They all were targeted by Gov. Ron DeSantis this week.

Florida’s property insurance market is teetering on the brink of collapse, prompting DeSantis to take an “extraordinary” and “unprecedented” step to try and stabilize it.

But the governor also found time to burnish the culture warrior persona that has helped elevate him within the GOP.

The governor revealed that his administration sent state investigators to a Miami drag show that had drawn criticism online for allowing children to view the “sexually explicit” performance.

That investigation resulted in a four-count administrative complaint against the R House restaurant and bar, where the show is staged. 

Drag shows have become a major target of the GOP lately. Former President Donald Trump touched on them during a speech in Tampa this month, saying: “The current education system is so SICK that school prayer is banned, but drag shows are allowed.”

For DeSantis, targeting the drag show is the latest battle in a culture war he has delved into with gusto. The governor also has targeted transgender athletes, critical race theory, diversity training and how gender identity and sexual orientation are discussed in schools.

Florida schools find themselves between DeSantis, Biden on LGBTQ students

LGBTQ issues have been a major source of debate in the current round of culture clashes. This week Florida school leaders found themselves caught between the DeSantis administration and President Joe Biden’s administration on how to approach LGBTQ students.

The Biden administration announced plans to prevent alleged discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in schools that receive public funding, citing authority under the 1972 Title IX law.

DeSantis’ education commissioner told Florida schools to disregard the federal directive, saying the Biden administration is trying to “impose a sexual ideology.” Some of the potential issues involve sports, field trip and bathroom policies for transgender individuals.

DeSantis also took aim at “woke” capital this week, criticizing a system that helps investors consider environmental, social and governance issues when deciding where to put their money. The governor said he plans to prohibit the state’s pension fund from considering ESG factors, and promised legislation on the issue. 

“We don’t want to see the economy further politicized,” DeSantis said during a press conference in Tampa.

Amid all the culture conflicts, the governor rolled out a plan to prop up Florida property insurance companies that see a ratings downgrade. Ratings company Demotech has sent letters to roughly 17 insurers notifying them of a potential downgrade, according to Florida’s insurance commissioner.

That could be a big problem for the insurers and their policyholders, who are required by federal mortgage lenders to have coverage from a highly-rated company. A big batch of ratings downgrades could be hugely disruptive, forcing tens of thousands of policyholders to seek new coverage in a market where many insurers are dropping policies and raising rates.

It’s a possible doomsday scenario for the state’s insurance market and real estate industry, one that state regulators are taking drastic measures to try and prevent. They announced an “unprecedented” and “extraordinary” plan to have state-run Citizens Property Insurance provide reinsurance coverage to downgraded companies, satisfying mortgage lending requirements while putting the state on the hook financially if the insurers can’t pay their claims.

DeSantis called Florida lawmakers into special session in May to try and fix the problems in the property insurance market, but their efforts don’t seem to have worked.

Now the market could be reaching a breaking point just as election season heats up, putting the spotlight on whether DeSantis has paid enough attention to this issue.

That’s about it! Keep reading for this week’s top headlines in politics, and remember to tune in to the Inside Florida Politics podcast. 🎙️ 

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— Producer Jon Tully and politics editor Zac Anderson curated this newsletter. Have any feedback for us? We’d love to hear from you via this form.

Follow Herald-Tribune Political Editor Zac Anderson on Twitter at @zacjanderson. He can be reached at zac.anderson@heraldtribune.com