The Florida Legislature adjourned its 2021 regular session Friday afternoon after a divisive eleventh-hour debate concerning the implications of a transgender sports ban Republicans hurriedly passed Wednesday night.

What You Need To Know

  • Lawmakers in Tallahassee passed multiple bills on the final day of the 2021 legislative session

  • Among them is a bill that bans transgender athletes from playing on women’s sports teams

  • A bill targeting violent protests also passed

  • Dive deeper with Political Connections

The ban, which Gov. Ron DeSantis says he'll sign into law, will bar transgender females from playing on women's athletic teams in high school and college. Earlier this month, the NCAA sided with hundreds of student athletes opposing such bans and said it wouldn't hold championship events in states that implemented them.

On Friday, House Republicans passed language that would bar Florida's public universities from using state dollars to pay their NCAA dues. The Republican-controlled Florida Senate signed off on the last-minute move

"Today, we're putting a stake in the ground and telling all sports that we will run the business of the state and they can run their sports," said Sen. Doug Broxson (R-Pensacola).

The transgender sports ban was assumed by many to be all but dead, after it failed to win a hearing before the powerful Senate Rules committee last week.

"Ding dong, the witch is dead," Sen. Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) tweeted at the time.

But House Republicans turned to an extraordinary parliamentary tactic late Wednesday, adding the transgender ban as an amendment to an unrelated charter school bill. For reasons that are still not entirely clear but may have involved backroom horse trading, Senate Republican leaders allowed a vote on the legislation, which passed and will be sent to the governor's desk.​

Some Senate Republicans had earlier been reticent to approve the ban, citing the potential economic impact of an NCAA boycott of a state that benefits greatly from hosting collegiate championships.

On Friday, Democrats expressed exasperation with the dues language, noting that universities currently use money from booster organizations and other accounts to pay for their NCAA memberships.

"How many times are we going to obsess over trans kids playing in sports?" asked Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando).

The transgender sports ban wasn't the only legislation that triggered outsized contention during the two-month session. Republicans also won passage of new mail-in voting restrictions, heightened penalties for protesters deemed violent, and an attempt to prohibit social media companies from deplatforming political candidates.

"When you take the transgender bill concurrently with HB 1, you add in that bad elections bill, it really makes you wonder where are we moving as a state," Rep. Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa), the House Democratic Caucus Policy Chair, said during an interview following the session's conclusion.

Before adjourning, the legislature approved a $101.5 billion state budget, the largest spending plan in the state's history and 10% larger than last year's budget due to an infusion of federal stimulus dollars.

Lawmakers will return to Tallahassee in just over two weeks for a special legislative session devoted to consideration of a gaming expansion compact negotiated between Gov. DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe. Ratification would grow the state's general revenue fund by $2.5 billion in the compact's first year alone. Democrats have called for using the cash to expand Medicaid, a proposal likely to be a nonstarter for Republicans.