TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — While the Florida property insurance market overhaul legislation passed on a party line split in the special session, lawmakers approved disaster relief and toll relief bills unanimously, bringing some funding and cost relief to Florida residents.
Three bills were passed in the December special session, initially proposed as a second attempt to fix ongoing property insurance issues in Florida.
The legislative agenda was expanded to also include disaster recovery following hurricanes Ian and Nicole, as well as move up a planned toll relief program pitched by Gov. Ron DeSantis in recent months.
Senate Bill 4A, the disaster relief bill, allows the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to waive or adjust certain fund matching requirements and allows refunding ad valorem taxes in areas made uninhabitable by hurricane damage. It also gives an extension and suspension on payments and discounts for some taxes and assessments on non-ad valorem levies.
SB 4A was qualified as a disaster relief effort in the wake of the 2022 hurricane season by the state legislature. It appropriates $751.5 million for the purposes of implementation and assistance, while requiring the Florida Division of Emergency Management, as well as municipal governments, to enter agreements to use some of the funds made available.
SB 6A is instead aimed at giving toll relief to Florida drivers for a specific timeframe, and sets the eligibility needs for drivers to earn credits back on their toll accounts for reimbursement. $500 million was set aside by the state to administer the program, and like the disaster relief bill, it passed unanimously in the Florida Legislature’s chambers.
The toll relief program is set to last a year, running from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2023. All state toll facilities that use a state-issued transponder or are interoperable with FDOT’s prepaid toll system will participate in the program, according to the legislation.
To qualify for the program, a driver must have a SunPass account in good standing. Qualifying transactions must be for two-axle vehicles that match the transponder accounts on record.
Drivers who have 35 or more toll transactions per transponder per month are eligible to earn back 50% of what they pay for toll credit reimbursement.