TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — A top Republican Senator battled Democrats and Republicans alike over his controversial union bill, narrowly pushing it through the Senate chamber and into the House.
Sponsored by Sen. Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill), SB 256 faced its third and final reading in the Senate, requiring unions to maintain 60 percent membership to remain certified. It additionally ends the automatic paycheck deduction for union dues, making workers pay in person, through check or electronically.
“This bill ensures that more union member voices are actually heard,” Former Chair of the Republican Party Ingoglia explained, stating that removing automatic paycheck deductions would allow for more face-to-face interactions between union members and their leaders.
Sen. Ingoglia faced surprisingly strong bipartisan opposition, with critics insisting that the bill is an example of government overreach with pricey consequences.
“This is a bill with issues,” Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) stated. “Financial statements are not quick, they’re not easy, and they’re very expensive to bill.” Sen. Gruters, a Certified Public Accountant, highlighted the bill’s financial issues, citing the difficulties of auditing small unions with small budgets.
Gruters stated that a slight change to the bill could have addressed these concerns, but the ultimate lack of change “tells me the only intent of the bill is to kill off the unions in Florida,” Gruters said.
Sen. Gruters was joined by four more Republicans, all Democrats, plus dozens of protesters, who crowded the Capitol halls chanting: “Ain’t no power like the power of the union ‘cause the power of the union don’t stop!”
“This bill is a great example of big government swooping in to fix a problem that doesn’t exist,” Sen. Tina Polsky (D-Boca Raton) stated. “This is the ultimate cancel culture.”
Democratic Senate Leader Lauren Book echoed Sen. Polsky, telling the gallery filled with union worker onlookers to stand up: “These are the people we fight for.”
The bipartisan effort was not strong enough to halt SB 256’s passing, though the 23–17 favorability vote came close. Following its passage on the Senate floor, it will move to the House.
To land on the governor’s desk, SB 256 must pass the House in identical formation. It won’t become law until the governor signs it.