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DeSantis comes to Fort Myers Beach to sign property insurance and hurricane relief bills

Damaged homes and debris are shown in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers.
Wilfredo Lee
Damaged homes and debris are shown in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers.

Governor Ron DeSantis came to Fort Myers Beach Friday to sign hurricane relief and property insurance bills, just passed by the Republican-controlled legislature. Those measures now become law. The governor also directed his administration to provide people with travel trailers as temporary housing in hurricane-damaged areas, despite lack of approval from the federal government.

The governor held a news conference before signing the bills into law. He said the insurance reforms will cut down on fraud and lawsuits. The new law also provides $1 billion for re-insurance. Sponsors said the goal of that measure is to convince insurers to stay in Florida and continue to write policies, even after major disasters like Hurricane Ian.

"How does that help the consumer?" DeSantis asked. "Well, if we do get more people to come and offer policies, it gives you potentially more choices. Then you can make the best decision for you. It also clamps down on timelines on insurers to get payments out the door, to help policy holders as they rebuild their lives."

During the special legislative session earlier this week, critics claimed that the measures could force some people out of state-supported Citizens Insurance. However, Republicans hold super majorities in both house and senate, and they rejected all amendments from Democratic lawmakers.

Governor DeSantis also announced that his administration will work around FEMA on the issue of providing travel trailers to people whose homes were badly damaged or destroyed in flood zones. DeSantis said he is tired of waiting for FEMA approval, so he is directing the state emergency management director to immediately bring trailers to hurricane-damaged areas. People could live in those trailers while waiting for their homes to be repaired.

FEMA has not approved trailers as temporary housing in flood zones. DeSantis noted that since the rainy season has ended, with Florida is moving into the dry season, having trailers in flood zones should not be a concern.

The governor also signed a hurricane relief bill that provides $150 million to local governments. The money is to be used to renourish beaches after Hurricanes Ian and Nicole.

Forty-one-year veteran of television news in markets around the country, including more than 18 years as an anchor and reporter at WINK-TV in southwest Florida.