This week, the House and Senate met in Tallahassee for a 3-day Special Session to pass Senate Bill 2A, Property Insurance, legislation intended to improve Florida’s property insurance marketplace for homeowners; Senate Bill 4A, Disaster Relief, which provides tax and financial relief for Floridians impacted by hurricane Ian and Nicole; and Senate Bill 6A, Toll Relief, which provides $500 million in statewide toll savings for Florida commuters.
Senate Bill 2A, Property Insurance, by Senator Jim Boyd, is a comprehensive bill designed to ensure policyholders have access to quality, affordable private market property insurance. The bill requires insurers to communicate, investigate and pay valid claims more promptly. Anticipated shortages in the reinsurance market were also addressed through a new optional state reinsurance program. The legislature also addressed excessive insurance litigation, which has been known to drive up premium costs, by eliminating one-way attorney fees for property insurance and now allows both parties the opportunity to obtain fees through the offer of judgment process. SB 2A also bolstered the regulatory authority of the Office of Insurance Regulation over property insurers.
Senate Bill 4A, Disaster Relief, by Senator Travis Hutson, gives homeowners a property tax refund depending on how long their homes have been deemed unlivable due to the storms. State economists expect the proposal to reduce local tax revenue by an estimated $18.3 million. SB 4A also provides more than $750 million for storm mitigation and recovery efforts:
- Appropriates $350 million from the General Revenue Fund to the Division of Emergency Management (DEM) to provide the full match requirement for FEMA Public Assistance grants to local governments affected by the two hurricanes.
- Appropriates $150 million from the General Revenue Fund to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation
- Appropriates $251.5 million from the General Revenue Fund to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Senate Bill 6A, Toll Relief, by Nick DiCeglie, is a bill that directs the Florida Turnpike Enterprise to create a toll credit program giving drivers who go through at least 35 toll collection points per month a 50% credit throughout the year, beginning Jan. 1, 2023. The program applies to all state toll facility entities that use a Florida-issued transponder or are linked with the Department of Transportation’s prepaid electronic transponder toll system, such as the SunPass, the LeeWay Pass or the E-ZPass. The legislation also includes $500 million in general revenue to reimburse the DOT and toll agencies. The toll credit program is expected to save drivers an estimated $38 million.
Governor Ron DeSantis has received and approved all three Special Session bills passed by the Florida Legislature.
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This publication is for general information only. It is not legal advice, and legal counsel should be contacted before any action is taken that might be influenced by this publication.
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