TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida has welcomed its 46th governor as Ron DeSantis was sworn in under sunny skies on Tuesday in front of his family and predecessor, former Gov. Rick Scott.
- FOLLOW: Live updates on Inauguration Day in Florida
- SEE BELOW: DeSantis, Topics To Watch For ▼
- SEE BELOW: Nunez Becomes State's First Female Hispanic Lieutenant Governor ▼
- SEE BELOW: Scott To Be Sworn In As US Senator ▼
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DeSantis took the oath of office to become Florida's 46th governor. It was after three other statewide elected officials were sworn into their new offices. They are: the new attorney general, agriculture commissioner and chief financial officer.
During his acceptance speech, he praised his wife and Scott, but also focused on Florida's natural beauty and touched on dealing with the red tide, which has plagued the state in recent months.
"We resolve to leave Florida to God better than when we found it," he said.
He spoke about the economy, education and health. DeSantis said the current health system is caught up in red tape and putting too much pressure between doctors and their patients.
"The people of Florida deserve relief," he said.
He spoke about the damaging Hurricane Michael, but vowed to the communities impacted that he would stand with them and help rebuild.
He also spoke to soldiers, veterans and law enforcement and praised them for their service, saying, "You deserve our support, not our condemnation."
Immigration was another topic that the new governor touched on, declaring "We will not allow sanctuary cities," and stop giving illegal immigrants incentives to come to the Sunshine State, adding that it is not fair to those who come into Florida's legal immigrants and promotes "lawlessness".
It is a busy week as DeSantis' inaugural team has been planning multiple events over the course of two days.
And the new governor plans to wield his power almost immediately, picking a new Florida Supreme Court justice Wednesday over the objections of the Florida NAACP.
The group argues DeSantis ought to have a black American candidate to pick from; there is not one on his list of 10 judicial nominees.
Finally, on Friday the governor and the clemency board will meet to take up that headline-grabbing case of the Groveland Four. In 1949, four young black men were accused of raping a 17-year-old white women and attacking her husband in Lake County. They were posthumously exonerated in 2017.
DeSantis, Topics To Watch For
DeSantis is the youngest to hold the Florida governorship in decades. At just 40 years old, he is also the first to live in the state mansion with young kids in at least a half century.
The Associated Press interviewed DeSantis on a wide range of topics. Some of them included what he plans to do first as governor.
Here are some of the things to watch for:
- He will visit areas hard hit by Hurricane Michael.
Parts of the Panhandle still look much as they did in the hours and days immediately following that October storm.
- The environment is another topic that many will have their eyes on. Spectrum News reported the devastating effects of Red Tide from last fall.
DeSantis says it is a non-partisan issue that both sides can rally around and do something about.
- One key industry DeSantis may focus on is the state's sugar business.
He was not entirely happy with the sugar companies during the campaign. Experts say diverting water for these sugar plants had bad effects on Lake Okeechobee.
Discharges from the lake are blamed for the bigger red tide issues the state has seen over the last several years.
- Something else to watch for concerns the education front.
Many can expect to see the school voucher programs stick around. It is something Republicans who have controlled Tallahassee the last couple of decades want to continue to expand.
They say more individualized education is the key to success for each child.
- One of the first things he will tackle as governor is whether to suspend Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
He oversaw the Sheriff's Office's response to the Parkland Massacre. Many blasted him for what they saw as a poor response to the attack at the school.
Initially, DeSantis said he would suspend the sheriff. He has since backed off that as a definitive statement.
Nunez Becomes State's First Female Hispanic Lieutenant Governor
Jeanette Nunez became the state's first female Hispanic lieutenant governor once she is sworn in on Tuesday.
She is a former state lawmaker and health care executive. She told Spectrum News that her agenda will benefit every Floridian.
"As we go forward and champion issues related to the environment and education, that we're going to be listening to the unique perspectives and diverse opinions from all walks of life," Nunez said.
Nunez also talked about her focus for her first five days in office.
Scott To Be Sworn In As US Senator
Once the events in Tallahassee are complete, Gov. Rick Scott will become U.S. Sen. Rick Scott.
He is being sworn in five days after the rest of Congress because he decided to finish out his term as governor.
Scott will be sworn in at 4 p.m. on Capitol Hill after attending the inauguration for DeSantis.
He will also be the most junior member of the Senate.
Anthony Leone contributed to the story.