TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida legislature is one step closer to calling a special session aimed at addressing the state’s homeowners insurance crisis.
State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, confirmed Monday he officially obtained the signatures needed from fellow lawmakers to advance a legislative maneuver that would force a special session.
“As of 1 p.m., within one business day of the sending out our letter, we have received more than enough responses from legislators calling for a special session on property insurance,” the senator said in a tweet.
Brandes first told 8 On Your Side last week about the maneuver he would be attempting to get a special session without Gov. Ron DeSantis or other legislative leaders. State statute allows lawmakers to force a special session if 20% of legislators file with the Department of State explaining conditions that warrant it. If 20% file, the remaining legislators will be polled. A special session can be called if three-fifths of the legislature agree to sign on.
The signatures Brandes obtained on Monday is just the first step – the 20% of the legislature needed to trigger a polling of every lawmaker in the Florida House and Senate. According to Brandes, the Secretary of State has to poll lawmakers within a week.
“And the great thing about it is, it’s public document,” Brandes said last week. “Floridians will be able to see which House members and senators are standing with them and which ones are standing against them.”
During a stop in Tampa on Monday, Gov. DeSantis told 8 On Your Side’s Mahsa Saeidi he supports Sen. Brandes’ move to force a special session.
“I think it’s just a matter of – as you remember, it kind of fell apart at the end of the session,” DeSantis said. “So we just want to make sure we have a product that will pass and that we can get through.”
Four property insurance bills were introduced during the regular legislative session to address the insurance crisis, but each one failed. Hundreds of homeowners have reached out to 8 On Your Side in recent weeks, panicking after getting their annual property insurance rates. Some homeowners say they’re seeing rates double in a single year.
“We gotta be honest with people, we’re in a big period of inflation, so all this stuff is gonna go up,” DeSantis said. “But on the property insurance in particular, clearly we have dysfunctions in that market that could be fixed.”
Sen. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, was also at the governor’s news conference Monday morning and agreed the insurance crisis is “out of control.”
“We need to have a program that all of us can agree on that, most importantly, saves Floridians money,” Sen. Boyd said. “It’s out of control, we’ve got to get our arms around it and we have to solve it for our constituents.”