The Florida Legislature opened its annual 60-day session Tuesday and prepared to hear Gov. Ron DeSantis give his State of the State address before he heads back to Iowa for next week’s crucial presidential caucuses.


The Senate and House began the largely ceremonial proceedings, with lawmakers coming together for optimistic speeches from the Republican leaders of each chamber. Flowers adorned the lawmakers’ 160 desks as Cabinet members, Supreme Court Justices and former leaders gathered waiting for DeSantis.

Unlike past years, DeSantis has largely been quiet about what he hopes to achieve during the session, focusing instead on his presidential campaign, where polls show he badly trails former President Donald Trump in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The opening of the session was also marked by stormy weather as strong winds and rain pounded the Florida Panhandle while rolling toward Tallahassee. Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis skipped the ceremonies to travel to the Panama City area to view storm damage.

“I think tropical storm force winds on opening day means good luck, kind of like rain on your wedding day,” Senate President Kathleen Passidomo said. “I hope the old adage in like a lion, out like a lamb will ring true this session.”