A bill introduced by a Republican member of the Florida State House would allow taxpayer funds to house legal migrant workers but those familiar with the situation have told Townhall there is concern because Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner (FDACS) Wilton Simpson is pushing for the bill behind-the-scenes while also being against E-Verify for the workers.
On the first page of HB 1343, it states the bill will be "providing tax credits for the rental or purchase of specified housing for migrant farmworkers; providing requirements for claiming the tax credit..."
Sources said the bill could mean Florida taxpayers could end up paying for housing for illegal migrants since they are not subjected to E-Verify. They added the bill is not only being pushed by Simpson, but also Florida state Senator Jay Collins, both Republicans.
A Republican member of the Florida State House filed a bill that would allow taxpayer funds to house migrant workers.— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) March 3, 2023
But sources familiar with the details tell me this bill is being pushed by current @FDACS Commissioner @WiltonSimpson and Florida Senator @JayCollinsFL. pic.twitter.com/QEzqxG77tM
On Twitter, FDACS said Townhall's sources were "completely false" and promised to send a statement about the topic.
Hi, Comms Team for Commissioner Simpson here. Sometimes this happens, but your sources are completely false. We’ll be reaching out via email with a statement. 🙂 https://t.co/W6fD6jruzn— Florida Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services (@FDACS) March 3, 2023
But in statement they provided, it did not deny Simpson was lobbying behind-the-scenes for the bill to be passed:
Our department’s agriculture and consumer services bills are primarily focused on the operations of the department. We’re grateful for the leadership of Senate President Passidomo, House Speaker Renner, Senators Collins and Ingoglia, and Representatives Alverez and McClure who understand that agriculture is not only an economic issue but also a national security issue. We look forward to working to with Florida’s policymakers to help secure our borders and ensure we have a safe, affordable and abundant food supply.
The bills they pointed to as part of their package included SB 1164 and HB1279, but not HB 1343. One source said FDACS' statement proves they were "panicking."
Orlando Sentinel Columnist Scott Maxwell wrote in 2022 how Simpson did not push for E-Verify for the industry when he was Senate President in the Florida legislature. During the 2022 midterms, he postured himself as someone who will clamp down on illegal immigration:
To the contrary, he helped pass a bill that allows agriculture companies — the No.1 employers of undocumented workers — to keep hiring and exploiting illegal labor without the mandatory checks.
Simpson stands out, though, because of the latest political job he’s seeking — as Florida’s agriculture commissioner.
Simpson, an egg farmer himself, claims on his website that America 'is threatened when illegal immigration is allowed to thrive as it has under the Biden Administration.' He also has a TV ad up featuring Florida sheriffs who say: 'He’ll combat illegal immigration.'
But here’s the thing: He didn’t; not where it counted most.
If you want to clamp down on illegal immigration, you clamp down on the companies illegally hiring workers — the ones giving those folks a reason to come here.
But Simpson and pals didn’t do anything of the sort. Instead, they passed SB 664 in 2020, which only requires state agencies and contractors to use E-Verify to vet their hires … as if the bulk of Florida’s estimated 770,000 undocumented workers are secretly working as park rangers or in the Department of Elder Affairs. These politicians think you’re stupid.