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Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed into law Monday a controversial bill that increases penalties for crimes committed during a "riot," which civil rights groups have denounced as unconstitutional.

Why it matters: The bill, effective immediately, will increase penalties for crimes committed during a "riot" and would allow authorities to hold protesters arrested for misdemeanors without bail until their first court appearance, per the Orlando Sentinel.

The big picture: The law also establishes new felonies for organizing or participating in a violent demonstration and offers "civil legal immunity to people who drive through protesters blocking a road," per the Orlando Sentinel.

  • The law also creates protections for Confederate monuments and other historical memorials, and makes it more difficult for local governments to decrease their law enforcement budgets.
  • Opponents of the bill say it curtails citizens' First Amendment rights to peaceful assembly and free speech. Micah Kubic, the executive director of ACLU of Florida, previously called the bill "racist, unconstitutional, and anti-democratic."

Driving the news: “We wanted to make sure that we were able to protect the people of our great state, people’s businesses and property against any type of mob activity or violent assemblies," said DeSantis at the bill's signing on Monday, reports the Miami Herald.

Go deeper

Biden's pick to lead major banking regulator drops out

Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency, at a confirmation hearing on Nov. 18. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

President Biden's pick to head one of the country's most powerful banking regulators is dropping out of consideration for the post, according to a statement from Biden that accepted the withdrawal.

Why it matters: Saule Omarova, nominated to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, faced a tough path to confirmation — with opposition from Republicans and moderate Democrats.

Judge temporarily blocks Biden vaccine mandate for federal contractors

President Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Dec. 6 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked President Biden's vaccine mandate for federal contractors nationwide.

Why it matters: It's the latest setback in the Biden administration's rollout of COVID vaccine requirements. Federal judges in two states temporarily barred the administration from enforcing mandates for millions of workers last week.

Biden threatens Putin

Photo: Kremlin Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In a video call that lasted for just over two hours on Tuesday, President Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that if Russia invades Ukraine the U.S. will impose unprecedented sanctions and provide additional weaponry to the Ukrainians, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.

Why it matters: Russia's military activity on the border with Ukraine has triggered alarms from the U.S. and its European allies of a potential large-scale Russian invasion in early 2022. Sullivan said Biden made clear to Putin that, "things we did not do in 2014, we are prepared to do now."