You could be fined for writing about Ron DeSantis

Elijah Shinnick, Staff Writer

Gov. Ron DeSantis is no stranger to finding himself in the headlines. Each week, his ideas and statements get tossed around from article to article and are usually brutally picked apart, and it seems like he’s had enough. 

Back on Feb. 28, a new bill was introduced in Florida that would require any blogger who writes about DeSantis to register with the state. Titled S.B.1316, the bill would require any blogger who chooses to write about DeSantis and is getting paid for their work to register with the state ethics commission or the Florida Office of Legislative Services. They have a deadline of five days after their first post to do so. 

This bill doesn’t just cover DeSantis, however. Bloggers would also be required to register if they ever write anything about Florida’s lieutenant governor, a cabinet officer or any member of the Florida legislature.

Lastly, S.B.1316 mandates that each blogger has to send in monthly reports about their work if they decide to follow through on writing about elected officials. In those reports, you’d be expected to state how much money you made from your articles and the “individual or entity” who paid you for them. Failure to do so will result in you being fined $25 a day, with a maximum being $2,500. 

 S.B.1316 creator and GOP lawmaker Jason Brodeur called bloggers this when asked about his bill: “Paid bloggers are lobbyists who write instead of talk.” 

It’s important to look at the wording used here: “bloggers.” Not news reporters, as they are exempt from this as written in the bill, but bloggers are what this bill is specifically attacking. People like me are also exempt since this is a university-run website. This just begs the question, who is this bill for?

I’d imagine blogging isn’t as popular as it was in the past, but DeSantis might feel differently. It’s not clear what will happen next with this bill, but either way, this one is a real head-scratcher.