Special Session: Lawmakers look to clean up law that Martha’s Vineyard flights may have violated
Ron DeSantis agrees to release all the details of his migrant flight stunt.

martha's vineyard
A Special Session bill would allow transport of migrants rounded up anywhere in the country.

A high-profile stunt flying migrants from Texas to Massachusetts may have broken Florida law. But legislation under consideration in a Special Session this week could change the statute before addressing any violation.

A bill on the “Transportation of Inspected Unauthorized Aliens” (HB 5) would change the budget authority used when Gov. Ron DeSantis flew dozens of Venezuelan refugees to Martha’s Vineyard.

The Florida Legislature last year approved an immigration crackdown law granting the Governor a greater ability to respond to migrants illegally entering the U.S. and arriving in Florida. That included the budget authority to transport migrants to other states, which was used to justify flying tow planes of immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard in September.

The problem is the bill only allowed for a program enabling “the transport of unauthorized aliens from this state,” but the flights DeSantis commissioned flew to Texas to round up migrants there and transport them to New England.

Rep. John Snyder, a Stuart Republican, carried the bill passed by the Legislature last year.

He’s now sponsoring the bill under consideration in Special Session to change the law, which was filed on Friday. Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican, filed a companion bill in the Senate.

The words “this state” no longer will appear in the relevant statute under the newly filed legislation. It will instead allow for the “transport of inspected unauthorized aliens within the United States.”

Snyder last year notably said arguments the program might target refugees legally seeking asylum were disingenuous. But critics have argued the use of the term “unauthorized aliens” kept the program intentionally vague regarding whether it could target migrants legally within the United States.

The drafting of the bill reflects a poor understanding of immigration which causes broad, harmful consequences, and possibly even achieves results not intended by the drafters,” said Mark Prada, an immigration lawyer and executive in the American Immigration Lawyers Association, when the law was initially passed.

Notably, the legislation also retroactively considers costs associated with the prior law as “approved.” For the 2022-’23 fiscal year, the new legislation sets aside $10 million in non-recurring funding from general revenue and sends it to the Division of Emergency Management to fund the program.

Notably, the DeSantis administration paid Vertol upward of $1.5 million for the flights last year after lengthy communication between the company and DeSantis public safety czar Larry Keefe using an alias, the Miami Herald reported.

That was revealed in communications made public after a judge ordered records be turned over to the Florida Center for Government Accountability.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Ocean Joe

    February 6, 2023 at 6:21 am

    Any question who your legislature really works for?
    Now be quiet and go pay your new storm insurance bill.

  • Jim Cline

    February 6, 2023 at 6:56 am

    This state excels at wasting money. Let’s re-allocate that $10 million to the state parks, pronto.

  • JD

    February 6, 2023 at 8:15 am

    “Oh we violated the law, so I guess we will have to change it.”

    BS. This along with the Reedy Creek debackle in the “Special Session” is a waste of Tax Payer money. TAX PAYER.

    Fix our insurance and power laws instead of pandering for political gain.

    • Paul Passarelli

      February 6, 2023 at 9:06 am

      Democrats violate the laws on a daily basis.

      Jim Cline,
      In the time since the expenditure ($1.5M) far more than that was kept in state coffers, because it wasn’t being demanded by the multitude of unfunded social programs. And that ignores any potential losses from criminal activity.

      I did a break-even calculation when the story broke. I think the time was 2.5 – 3.5 months for the cost of the flights to be completely offset by the savings in ‘entitlement handouts’.

      The flight was in mid September, so we’re solidly in the black ink by now.

      Ocean Joe,

      • JD

        February 6, 2023 at 12:23 pm

        P. Passarelli,

        I’m not giving them a pass either, and I wasn’t doing a democrat vs republican. However, the democrats are not in control of the FL house or Senate to violate the law or have the votes change them so they are not violating them in the future.

        I’d be curious how much each of these “special sessions” cost. We’ve had quite a few of them over the last few years and I’m not sure the juice has been worth the squeeze.

        • Paul Passarelli

          February 6, 2023 at 1:00 pm

          But the Democrats are in control of the national borders. When diagnosing a problem, one needs to look for the *source* of the problem, not the symptoms.

          You bring up an interesting point. How much does a special session cost? I *hope* the burden on the taxpayers is minimal. Even if it included lavish travel reimbursements, I think it would/should still be better than handing over tens of millions of ‘entitlement dollars’ to illegal aliens.

          I googled:
          “average cost of a florida special legislative session”
          I got:
          That means a special session costs Florida taxpayers $12,800 a day. The redistricting special session that begins tomorrow is scheduled for 12 days, for a grand total of $153,600.

          I can live with that.

          • Joe Corsin

            February 6, 2023 at 3:31 pm

            You must have brought money when you flew down here snowbird. Did you make that in a blue state? Go back to where you came from you grifter.

          • JD

            February 6, 2023 at 4:06 pm

            But we’ve had 5 since 2021.

            2 – 2021
            3 – 2022
            1 – 2023 (and we are barely into February)

            Assuming they all are about the same length, that’s $900K in 2 years. And that’s only food and lodging – not travel and other miscellanous expenses.

            You still can live with that?

          • JD

            February 6, 2023 at 7:15 pm

            Sorry, 6 since 2021.

          • Paul Passarelli

            February 7, 2023 at 9:27 am


            I’m reminded of Mark Twain’s wisdom: “No man’s … is safe when the legislature is in session.”

            But in this case, spending $153k to save millions is a pretty good exchange.

            I do not recall what the other sessions did.

            Purism is for people that have no stake in the outcome, or do not understand their stake in the outcome.

  • Paul Passarelli

    February 6, 2023 at 8:56 am

    Even if the flights did spend $1.5M (not the whole $12M allocated to the program), the success was palpable!

    The flights single greatest accomplishment was to highlight ***Democratic Hypocrisy*** about how ILLEGAL ALIENS are perceived, handled, and treated, by the Left.

    The loud-mouthed Lefties on the Vineyard had them rounded up and deported on *military* aircraft in less then 24 hours after touchdown, despite their hollow claim that the would be happy to provide sanctuary!

    It still makes me smile every time I hear about it. Well Done Governor DeSantis! And kudos to Senator Blaise Ingoglia for tending to the minor correction that will allow the program to continue to function.

    • JD

      February 6, 2023 at 12:33 pm

      How is that not pandering to go to another state to round up Illegal Aliens? How is it a good thing?

      He didn’t round them up in FL and picked those that were legally “asylum seekers”.

      Why not apply that money to the cuban and haitian refugees in FL. We’ve had a recent uptick. They could have been “delivered” to Martha’ Vineyard when found at sea.

      Why not do it here in his own backyard? It was spending taxpayer money for political points and the rounding up of illegals could damage the workforce relations of construction, elderly care, and hospitality / tourism industries. Not to mention the Cuban voting block.

      Apply it across the board.

      • Paul Passarelli

        February 6, 2023 at 1:09 pm

        as I told Josh Green (below) “You need to pay better attention or increase your retention span.”

        IIRC they had all indicated the Florida was their intended destination. Therefore, Governor DeSantis took the preemptive (look it up) step of intercepting them before they arrived here. I’d call that identifying a small problem before it causes big trouble. Democrats hat that, because it’s doesn’t let them exploit the ‘crisis’. q.v. Rahm Emanuel “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

        you wrote: “Apply it across the board.”

        I agree, we should deport *ALL* Illegal Aliens, forthwith.

        • JD

          February 6, 2023 at 1:13 pm

          “Democrats hat that, because it’s doesn’t let them exploit the ‘crisis” – careful, your slip – erm your bias – is showing.

          Pre-emptive huh? Where was that pre-emptive applied to the Insurance industry and housing crisis prior to Ian?

          I agree – and as you told Josh Green (below) “You need to pay better attention or increase your retention span.”

          • Paul Passarelli

            February 6, 2023 at 1:47 pm

            My bias? Do you mean that I generally loathe & despise Leftists, Progressive-Socialists, and Democrats? I should hope that it is showing.

            OK, JD, you tell me? What is your ex post facto solution to the insurance issue?

            Insurance is a business. I hate (as opposed to “hat”) the fact that my premiums have skyrocketed. I and everyone else have two options:
            1) pay
            2) ride bareback
            It’s a market decision. I won’t entertain any solutions that call for the ‘reduction of premiums’ based on a decree, or the increase of claims paid based on the same premise. The inevitable result of either is that the insurers pull up stakes in the state to avoid the losses. Which we’ve seen.

            The problems can mostly be traces back to “feel good’ legislation (aka pandering) passed to allow frivolous assignment of benefits following losses. That and the trial lawyers managing to inculcate themselves into the processes. Let me ask you which political party this reminds you of? Hint it starts with a “D”.

            Why do you think I got the hell out of Deep Blue Connecticut? Hint: It wasn’t the snow.

          • JD

            February 6, 2023 at 3:54 pm

            Sadly I have to reply to myself becuase it’s the comment thread limit, but to P. Passarelli.

            My umbridge was the blank taxpayer funded check the legislation gave to insurance companies without any guardrails.

            Yes, it is a business, but if they are going to tease them with incentives, then they should require something like rate hike abatement at least for a specified period of time, while actively pursuing an RCA – is it climate change? Is it allowing people to keep rebuilding in flood prone areas? It is the removing of mangroves that acted as natural buffers? Is it the codes that need updating? Is it simply a bunch of shitty old buildings that need to lose to the 50% rule? Insurance isn’t hard, it’s math and the companies that do it are damn good at actualization tables. Something external to the business is causing it to implode. Other than attempting to quell roofers suing to the limits of the policy, what else was done? Addressing any one of the things mentioned would contribute to it. How many people have been pushed to Citizens by the past inaction or negative contributing actions?

          • Paul Passarelli

            February 7, 2023 at 10:31 am

            Hi JD,

            Can you supply any additional data on that “blank taxpayer funded check”? I’m not being flip; I’d like to know what actually happened before I moved to The Sunshine State. I’d also like to know which side deserves the blame if you are speaking metaphorically.

            As soon as I discovered that my former company (Amica Mutual) does not do business in Florida (2019) I contacted more than thirty different companies for quotes. I learned a lot about Citizen’s, hurricane deductibles, roof attachment certifications, window inspections, etc.

            I paid homeowners insurance on multiple properties for >30 years in CT and never, not once, submitted a single claim. You can say I was lucky, or that the ‘use it *and* lose it’ paradigm was operating.

            But here I discovered it’s not *if* but *when* a homeowner files a claim. OK, so be it. I found an agency that earned my business & my trust during my insatiable search for data.

            I’m glad we agree that at its core insurance is just a dance around the actuarial tables.

            I’m happy to exchange ideas, although I’m tired of exchanges with Elliott Offen, Joe Corsin, Ocean Joe, Tjb, and other George Soros inspired (or funded) Fake Alias trolls.

          • JD

            February 7, 2023 at 3:47 pm

            P. Passareli,

            What I have read, the new bills provide a $1 billion dollar bailout for the insurance companies via Florida Optional Reinsurance Assistance program (FORA SB 2A I think?) as well as the $2B reinsurance subsides back in May of last year (Reinsurance to Assist Policyholders – or RAP – I think it was Bill 2D?)



            Mind you, I know this is needed, and I am ok if it helps people, but I want safe guards for that taxpayer money.

          • JD

            February 7, 2023 at 4:50 pm

            Apparently FP doesn’t like links, but I replied to your comment previously with links to the bills. Let’s see if this goes through.

            Reinsurance to Assist Policyholders (RAP) program – $2B

            Florida Optional Reinsurance Assistance program (FORA) coverage with $1B in general revenue funds

            SB bills 2A and 2D

          • JD

            February 7, 2023 at 4:52 pm

            And don’t get me wrong, I think something like this was needed because the industry was imploding. But there has to be some safe guards that could be put in place. I have visions of PPP money running away. Something like the auto-industry had to pay back their bailout loans.

          • Paul Passarelli

            February 8, 2023 at 12:58 am

            Hi JD,
            Well, that was 3041 lines of hard to digest crap!

            Unfortunately, unless I spend several hours possibly days digging through the Florida Statutes to see what came before and what that abortion is modifying, it’s difficult to provide a thoughtful response.

            All I can say at this moment is that if the State is shovelling money out, then someone is funnelling it in. And that combination *IMMEDIATELY* inspires distrust and pushes me to tell the legislators that are voting on it to employ all due caution, before they yay or nay.

          • JD

            February 8, 2023 at 6:52 am

            Hi P. Passarelli,
            Indeed. I think it’s why most people form opinions from sound bites (or worse start thinking those opinions are facts). But again, this is a complex issue (the insurance), so I would expect the solution to be somewhat complex.

            You asked for evidence. Granted it’s not “blank” for the check, but $3B is close enough for government work obviously.

  • tom palmer

    February 6, 2023 at 9:31 am

    You couldn’t make up stuff like this. Maybe someone could propose a bill making the clown car Florida’s official vehicle.

  • Josh Green

    February 6, 2023 at 10:45 am

    So the Florida legislature wants to make human trafficking legal now?

    Republicans truly are sick in the head.

    • Paul Passarelli

      February 6, 2023 at 12:01 pm

      Quite the opposite. Under President Trump, we had the ‘Stay in Mexico’ ordinances. Sleepy Joe did away with those in one of his foolhardy Executive Order sessions.

      You need to pay better attention or increase your retention span.

      • Elliott Offen

        February 6, 2023 at 3:29 pm

        Trump was a POS. GTFOH Paul Pizza.

  • Thomas Baxter

    February 6, 2023 at 11:49 am

    Not really ” Lawmakers look to clean up law” but to legalize criminal acts.

Comments are closed.


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