TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida House Friday morning passed two bills clarifying controversial programs on migrant transportation and prosecuting election crimes, sending both measures to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature.
State representatives passed SB 4-B (Statewide Prosecutor) with a vote of 77-33, and SB 6-B (Transportation of Inspected Unauthorized Aliens) with a vote of 77-34, both along party lines with Democrats objecting.
SB 4-B would allow the Office of Statewide Prosecution to handle cases involving election crimes that involve two or more judicial circuits.
This bill is in response to problems that have arisen while prosecuting 20 Floridians for voter fraud last year.
Gov. DeSantis announced the high-profile arrests of those Floridians with a major news conference in August, saying the convicted felons voted even though their rights had not been restored.
Since the arrests, however, some cases have been dismissed because a judge said the Office of Statewide Prosecution did not have jurisdiction to prosecute those crimes since they happened within one judicial circuit. Other cases have been dropped by state attorneys.
Republicans say this bill should allow the OSP to prosecute someone who fraudulently votes for president or governor, for instance, because the elections are statewide.
SB 6-B gives the DeSantis administration the ability to go anywhere in the United States to pick up migrants that have been processed by the federal government and send them somewhere else.
The program expands on a provision in last year’s budget, which DeSantis used to relocate 50 South American migrants using millions in taxpayer dollars from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts in protest of federal immigration policy.
The flight to Martha’s Vineyard, in addition to drawing condemnation, led to legal questions because the governor’s office paid for the trip using money intended to transport migrants who were in Florida, not Texas or any other state. The bill lawmakers are considering specifies that future flights could move migrants from anywhere in the U.S.
The bill allocates $10 million to the initiative.
Both bills were part of a special session this week that also included a bill to remake Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District.
The 60-day regular legislative session starts March 7 in Tallahassee.
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