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Calls for special legislative session on Florida’s property insurance crisis getting louder

Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg)
The Florida Channel
Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg)

St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes says he has enough signatures from lawmakers to push forward a special session in the state legislature.

The session would address rising property insurance rates, which Brandes claims are “out of control.”

Brandes sent out a tweet Monday, saying that he has “received more than enough responses from legislators calling for a special session on property insurance.”

According to Florida state statutes, lawmakers are allowed to call a special session if 20% of legislators file with the Department of State explaining conditions that warrant it.

Brandes put out a formal request to fellow lawmakers asking for their support Friday, and he said Monday that enough spoke up within one business day to meet that threshold.

Next, the Secretary of State must poll the legislature within 7 days — if three-fifths of both chambers agree, a special session would be called.

At a Tampa press conference earlier Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis voiced support for Brandes’ actions.

The Florida legislature adjourned earlier this year before discussing the property insurance issue. Since then, DeSantis said he expected lawmakers to address the problem sometime later this year — likely after new leaders were sworn in in Florida's House and Senate.

However, he seemed to move that timetable up Monday.

“I absolutely support what Senator Brandes is doing,” he said. “As you remember, it kind of fell apart at the end of the session. So we just want to make sure that we have a product that will pass muster, and that we can get through. So I think what he's doing is the right thing.”

According to the News Service of Florida, Brandes is primarily concerned about the stability of the private property insurance market as several homeowners insurance companies no longer serve Florida customers.

Additionally, there have been large rate increases for customers of the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp., which typically charges less than private insurers.

Lawmakers are already returning to Tallahassee next week for a special session to talk about congressional redistricting.

Information from News Service of Florida was used for this report.

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Violet Comber-Wilen