Bills concerning Disney World, migrant flights among those discussed during Tallahassee special session

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is ramping up his battle with Disney World.

Lawmakers are taking up the issue during the first day of a special session in Tallahassee.

They are also discussing immigration and voter fraud in what could be the speediest special session in history.

The Disney-related bill was filed after session got underway Monday.

It’s one of a handful of bills where lawmakers are making legal fixes to some of the governor’s most controversial moves.

“All of this really is trying to give the governor cover for prior mistakes that he made under the law,” said Florida Rep. and House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell.

That’s the view of Florida Democrats whose minority numbers couldn’t stop the governor’s plan to end Walt Disney World Reedy Creek’s special self-governing status around the same time Disney defied his bill on sex and gender education.

But the move stuck Central Florida taxpayers with hundreds of millions in debt. The special session bill fixes that, renames the district and also allows the governor to pick its leadership.

“They want to give the governor carte blanche to do whatever it is that he wants to do,” said State Rep. Dotie Joseph, a Democrat from North Miami.

A move like the legally questionable Florida-paid flights from the border to Martha’s Vineyard for a group of migrants last fall becomes legal and expended under a bill this week that allows Florida to find and move migrants from anywhere to anywhere on Florida taxpayers’ bill.

There’s more; the bill suggests the contractor behind the flights last fall, connected to the governor’s top staff, gets to keep more than $1.5 million in pre-paid dollars that hasn’t yet paid for anything.

“How can you run an operation giving a contractor $1 million and no one asked for it back?” asked State Sen. Jason Pizzo, a Democrat from east Broward County, during an appearance on This Week in South Florida.

These are two among the handful of bills that Republican lawmakers will almost certainly pass through in the coming days, a first look at the power of a supermajority voters sent to Tallahassee this year.

About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."