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Florida lawmakers may return early as property insurance 'crisis' continues

Posted at 5:49 PM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 06:43:48-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Even though Florida lawmakers have left the Capitol, there are rumblings that a special session could bring them back to Tallahassee.

Members have said two big issues may need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

One of them is congressional redistricting maps, which the governor plans to veto.

Gov. Ron DeSantis took issue with two minority districts earlier this year, which he argues are unconstitutional.

His veto could mean lawmakers will need to reconvene to offer a new draft.

Earlier this week, House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, weighed in on the possibility.

House Speaker Chris Sprowls
House Speaker Chris Sprowls discusses the possibility of another special session being held in Tallahassee.

"The governor has a very thoughtful argument about the U.S. Constitution and whether that creates a conflict," Sprowls said. "That’s something that we're going to have to figure out a path forward to rectify."

The other concern is rising property insurance costs.

House minority leader, Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Hollywood, said Monday it was "extremely likely" a special session was needed to address what he considered a crisis.

Jenne said industry leaders had warned him they are nearing a breaking point as rates for homeowners increase by double digits, some companies canceling policies, others failing.

"Something significant is going to have to be done," Jenne said. "And it's going to have to be done quickly."

Lawmakers failed to approve insurance reforms during their regular 60 days this year, despite an attempt by senators in the upper chamber.

Sprowls told us he felt improvements from last year needed more time to take effect before more action was needed.

Rep. Evan Jenne
Evan Jenne shares why a special session is needed to resolve rising property insurance costs in Florida.

"Everybody in the insurance space that you talk to says reforms take 18 months," Sprowls said. "We're not six months into that. It's frustrating to me as a homeowner. It's frustrating for a lot of people, but I want to make sure we're making the right reforms."

For now, GOP leadership and the governor's office both said they don't have an update on the prospect of a special session. Howver, they didn't rule out the possibility of it happening.

Florida is no stranger to special sessions. Lawmakers gaveled in for two of them just last year.

One special session addressed the Seminole gaming compact. The other one focused on rebuffing federal vaccine mandates.