Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) had pushed for the special session, which was formally called by Republican state Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and Republican state House Speaker Paul Renner, after the terrorist attacks against Israel last month. The session will open at 10 a.m. EST in Tallahassee, here are three areas legislatures will focus on during this session.
Response to war in Israel
DeSantis, in a statement applauding legislative leaders for calling the special session, called for his proposal to strengthen sanctions on Iran, which he says would “ensure Florida does not do business with companies aligned with Iran that could in turn fund Hamas and other terrorist groups,” to be passed.
“Following the horrific atrocities committed by Iranian-backed terrorist group Hamas against Israel, I am calling on the Florida Legislature to act swiftly to ensure our state does not send a penny to the Iranian terror state,” DeSantis said. “I am glad to see the Legislature’s willingness to convene and address this along with other important issues for the state.”
Two similar bills looking to strengthen sanctions on Iran have been filed ahead of the special session. The proposal would expand the list of “scrutinized companies” that have ties to Iran, which are not permitted to do business with the state of Florida.
In addition, multiple resolutions condemning the Hamas terrorist attacks and reaffirming the Sunshine State’s support of Israel have been filed for consideration.
Another matter being addressed at the special session is relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia, specifically related to insurance premiums.
Similar bills proposed by Republican state-Sen. Corey Simon and Republican state-Rep. Jason Shoaf, call for $416 million in hurricane relief funds and support for the My Safe Florida Home program.
The program, which was relaunched during a special session in 2022 to help with the state’s unstable insurance market, provides grants to help Florida homeowners pay for upgrades to their houses to reinforce roof-to-wall connections and upgrading doors and window, among other improvements. It has used most of the $215 million it has received to provide grants, and has created a backlog. This bill would give the program $176.17 million.
Another focus of the special session will be to further expand the state’s school choice program, which was signed into law earlier this year. A proposal by Republican state-Rep. Randy Fine would eliminate the 40,000 voucher cap for special needs students.
“No child should have to wait to get to the school that is right for them but certainly not children with special needs,” Fine told CBS 12.
The special session is set to end at 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday, with the next regular session scheduled to begin on Jan. 9, 2024 and last 60 days.