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Florida lawmaker mulls new legislation following Surfside collapse

'We need to make sure this doesn't happen again,' Sen. Jason Pizzo says
Surfside condo collapse Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.png
Posted at 5:24 PM, Jun 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 17:24:29-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In the wake of the Surfside collapse, a Florida Senator wants better building inspections.

State Senator Jason Pizzo, D-Miami, is working on a bill for the 2022 session that would require more regular and comprehensive inspections across the state.

They would depend on a building's age, its structure and materials, plus environmental impacts like proximity to the ocean.

"You're talking about the geography, or where it is," Pizzo said. "You're talking about the design materials used, and then the sort of the timeline and the age of it."

State Sen. Jason Pizzo
State Sen. Jason Pizzo discusses a new bill that would require more regular and comprehensive building inspections across Florida.

Surfside is in Pizzo's district. His policy idea comes as investigators work to determine why the 12-story condo tower partially crumbled last week. The death toll had risen to at least 10 with 151 unaccounted for Monday afternoon.

Structural failure is a growing theory among engineers. Some also speculate that rules in Miami-Dade and Broward counties requiring inspections every 40 years weren't tough enough to catch it.

“There's 150 plus people that are that are unaccounted for," Pizzo said. "But, there are four and a half million condos in Florida and we need to make sure this doesn't happen again."

Pizzo will likely need the backing of the GOP-majority to make his bill a law.

Senate President Wilton Simpson's office said he was open to improvements but that moving forward required more information.

"First and foremost, his thoughts are with the families impacted by this tragedy and the first responders currently on site," said spokeswoman Katie Betta. "Once the immediate life and safety issues are addressed on and around the site, a full investigation would reveal what specific role there may be for the Legislature."

Surfside building collapse
A view of a building is shown after a partial collapse, Thursday, June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. A wing of a 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed with a roar in a town outside Miami early Thursday, trapping residents in rubble and twisted metal.

House Speaker Chris Sprowls said something similar in a statement:

"Our thoughts right now are with the families who have lost their loved one and with the rescue workers who continue to do yeoman’s work on the scene. It would be premature to speculate or prejudge the situation. We expect a comprehensive investigation will be conducted, and once we have those findings, the Florida House will consider what legislative actions are required and appropriate."

Pizzo believes the time to talk about change is now. He is worried next year will be too late. Lawmakers, he feared, would lose the impact of this disaster.

"When we all go up to Tallahassee, I don't want everybody to forget and have short-term memories about where we were in that moment," Pizzo said.

Florida lawmakers return for their first interim committee meetings in September. They then gavel in for the 2022 regular session in January.