Gov. Ron DeSantis is looking beyond military benefits as he continues to pitch Florida to house the command headquarters of President Donald Trump’s proposed Space Force military branch.
DeSantis envisions Space Force as another cog in renewed growth of the iconic space industry around Cape Canaveral, which has seen a slow resurgence as private companies --- spurred by a space race among billionaires --- look to reduce costs by manufacturing launch vehicles close to the pads.
“I’d like to not only (have) Florida be a place to launch but to build more and more,” DeSantis said this week at the Merritt Island headquarters of Space Florida, the state’s aerospace arm.
“I think Florida has an awful lot to offer, and I think having the U.S. Space Command, the combatant command here, I think that that would continue to attract even more of the manufacturing base and more of the industry side of it,” DeSantis added.
DeSantis’ Space Force dreams are not shared by the U.S. Air Force, which doesn’t have a Florida location on its list of potential sites for the command, which for now will remain within the Air Force.
DeSantis’ wildcard is that he has the ear of Trump, who the governor says maintains as commander in chief the final word on the command locale.
“I pester him about that, but I don’t think he’s going to make a decision necessarily any time soon,” DeSantis acknowledged.
Last week, Seattle-based Boeing announced it was moving a small contingent to Titusville from northern Virginia. The move involves the front office of the Space and Launch division headquarters, as the company anticipates an uptick in launch activity related to its satellite program and an increase in partnerships at Cape Canaveral and the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base.
Earlier this year, Florida offered up to $18.9 million --- in part through road and utility infrastructure --- to attract Texas-based Firefly Aerospace to build a manufacturing shop in Space Florida’s Exploration Park, near the gates of Kennedy Space Center, and to use Space Launch Complex 20 to launch small payloads into space.
At Exploration Park, Firefly is joining Blue Origin, the Jeff Bezos company that is building a launch-vehicle production facility, and OneWeb, a communications company building a satellite manufacturing plant.
In terms of space exploration, Florida has an advantage against Virginia, Texas and California because of more than six decades of being the nation’s main place for launching missions.
DeSantis went to Space Florida’s office on Monday to sign into law a workforce education bill (HB 7071) that, in part, expands on a long-standing apprentice program between Lockheed Martin and Eastern Florida State College.
Besides helping to showcase the available local talent to other aerospace companies, DeSantis noted, “It will also help me to sell Florida for additional investment into the future.”
FRESH VEGGIES COULD BE COMING
A Miami Shores couple on Monday will replant a front-yard vegetable garden, something they uprooted in 2013, years before a battle over their disputed patch of ground was settled by state lawmakers.
Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll intend to restore the garden they grew for years, now that DeSantis has signed a law (SB 82) that prevents local-government rules against homeowners’ vegetable gardens. The law takes effect Monday.
Lawmakers took up the issue after courts ruled against the couple in challenge filed after Miami Shores said the garden violated a local ordinance.
“What is sad is that this fight even needed to be waged in the courts and the capital,” Ricketts said in a prepared statement. “We had a beautiful, nutritious garden for many years before the village went out of its way to ban it and then threatened us with ruinous fines. Finally, the state has ended a senseless assault on our property rights.”
Ricketts and Carroll challenged the ordinance as an unconstitutional violation of property rights. The 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled in favor of Miami Shores, and the Florida Supreme Court declined to hear the case, prompting lawmakers to pick up the battle.
Ari Bargil, an attorney for the Institute for Justice, which teamed with the couple, called the new law “the result of persistent advocacy.”
“Hermine and Tom are free to replant their garden, a right they now share with every other Floridian. I’m looking forward to seeing new life planted in the front yard next week,” Bargil said.
Don’t expect everyone to be celebrating.
David Cruz, legislative counsel for the Florida League of Cities, argued during the legislative session that local governments need to establish regulations that would maintain property values.
And Miami Shores lobbyist Fausto Gomez told lawmakers the village passed the ordinance after Ricketts and Carroll expanded their garden into a public swale.
DESANTIS NO FAN OF MOVING GAMES
Gov. Ron DeSantis, who grew up playing ball in Dunedin, isn’t a fan of the Tampa Bay Rays possibly splitting home games with another city.
Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg told the media on Tuesday about the “amazing idea” of exploring playing half the team’s home games in Montreal, whose former Expos are now the Washington Nationals. The Rays have long struggled with low attendance in their Tampa Bay home.
While DeSantis was in Tampa for a bill-signing event Wednesday, he was asked to chime in on the proposal. The sports fan emerged in the answer.
“I want the Rays to play in Tampa Bay,” DeSantis said. “Montreal, I don’t understand that. The frustrating thing is, they (the Rays) are producing a good product. With all the obstacles that they have, being in a tough division, not having as much money as some, they’ve been able to produce some good talent. So, I like them in this area for all 81 of the home games.”
TWEET OF THE WEEK: “Thank you @GovRonDeSantis for signing SB 1080 Andrew’s Law --- the anti-hazing bill. This new law will save lives.” --- Florida State University President John Thrasher (@FSUPresThrasher).