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A bill would allow the Florida State Guard to be activated out of state

Gov. Ron DeSantis unveils the Florida State Guard in June 2022.
Photo Courtesy of Governor's Media Page
Gov. Ron DeSantis unveils the Florida State Guard in June 2022.

The Florida State Guard may soon be allowed to see action at the southern border.

HB 1551 could give Governor Ron DeSantis the power to activate the State Guard to deal with disasters and other situations beyond Florida’s borders. Cape Coral Republican Rep. Mike Giallombardo, the bill’s sponsor, said at the measure’s first committee stop that it will allow the guard to fulfill service agreements with other states, including at the Southern border. But there are limits.

“So they can, activate only if they have an agreement with another state. They just can’t send it into someone else’s state without the state asking or the state knowing,” Giallombardo said.

DeSantis championed the creation of the State Guard in 2022. It was formed to respond to manmade and natural disasters in the state, but HB 1551 will now also permit the guard to be used by the governor to respond to civil unrest and quote “any other time deemed necessary and appropriate.”

In committee, Coral Springs Democratic Representative Dan Daley opposed the measure, arguing it and bills last year to give the state guard helicopters and boats is expanding the guard beyond its original purpose.

“We are now being able to say 'okay cool, we are going to send them to the Texas border, cool we are gonna activate them in periods of civil unrest.' I mean, we are basically making this much more than I think was ever explained to the legislature and it is just a year after year creep,” Daley said.

DeSantis has not been shy in using other state resources at the Southern border. Last May he sent over a thousand Florida National Guard members and law enforcement personnel to Texas.

The bill passed its first committee, but both the House and Senate versions have serval committee stops before it goes for a full chamber vote.

Tristan Wood is a senior producer and host with WFSU Public Media. A South Florida native and University of Florida graduate, he focuses on state government in the Sunshine State and local panhandle political happenings.