TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida lawmakers are considering holding a special session to address private property insurance as many homeowners see their rates rise or their policies being dropped.
State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, is calling on lawmakers to tackle the growing problem.
“Florida’s property insurance market is in collapse right now,” Brandes said. “What we see is companies pulling out of the state, rates going through the roof.”
He received enough support from lawmakers to prompt the Florida secretary of state to poll members of the House and Senate and ask if a special session should be held to address private property insurance.
The letter was sent to lawmakers on Thursday.
“I think the House and Senate should come together and pass a bill that’s going to lower rates for consumers,” Brandes said.
State Rep. David Smith, R-Winter Springs, supports the special session.
“I think it is something that we ought to be doing,” Smith said.
During a news conference on Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he supports Brandes’ efforts.
“Clearly we have dysfunctions in that market that could be fixed,” DeSantis said.
While State Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, agrees, she thinks more work needs to be done before a special session is held.
“I am for a special session, but I’m for a special session at the right time when we have everything ironed out,” Stewart said.
Stewart sent a letter on Friday to State Sen. Jim Boyd, the chair of the Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance. She is asking for a workshop to be held with key stakeholders, including lawmakers, lawyers, insurance companies, and roofers.
She said three insurance bills passed in the Senate, but died in the House during the regular session. She said she would first like to work on bipartisan legislation that would be supported by all before holding a special session.
“I want to see a special session, but I want the special session to actually accomplish something and mean something, and unless we have a workshop to work through these issues that we had two months ago, I don’t think we can get to that point,” she said.
According to the letter sent to lawmakers from the secretary of state, legislators are asked to respond to the special session poll by noon on Monday. But according to state law, they have 60 days to answer.
Brandes said three-fifths of the House and three-fifths of the Senate need to vote yes in order for a special session to be held. He’s hoping that can happen before hurricane season begins on June 1.