Ahead of Florida’s upcoming Special Session, lawmakers are drafting bills for deliberation. Read a rundown of Thursday’s key filings below:
Introduced by Sen. Corey Simon, SB 2-C proposes financial relief following Hurricane Idalia. The bill outlines tax assessments at salvage value for unused agricultural equipment, refunds sales tax on materials used for post-hurricane repairs, and authorizes multiple state departments to provide loans, grants, and financial relief for recovery efforts. The measure would further appropriate more than $400 million to various programs and initiatives addressing the hurricane’s damages, honing in on housing recovery, emergency management, and support for the agricultural sector.
A companion bill, introduced by Rep. Jason Shoaf, focuses on tangible support for those affected by Hurricane Idalia by proposing sales tax exemptions for certain farm repair materials and establishing a $30 million matching fund for FEMA Public Assistance. The legislation would additionally extend the operational period of the Florida Emergency Management Assistance Foundation. It also dedicates substantial funding towards housing and hurricane recovery, transportation projects in the affected regions, and the establishment of the Agriculture and Aquaculture Producers Natural Disaster Recovery Loan Program, with appropriations totaling over $200 million for various disaster relief activities.
Filed by Rep. Randy Fine, the bill would establish a state-based Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) in Florida, modeled after the federal NSGP. This program allows Florida nonprofit organizations, including houses of worship and community centers at high risk of violent attacks or hate crimes, to apply for grants. T
The legislation also mandates the Division of Emergency Management (DEM) to award grants to those who meet federal NSGP eligibility, submit a list of awarded grants to legislative leaders, and adopt specific rules, with an emphasis on protecting places frequented by children. Additionally, the bill appropriates $10 million to DEM for the state NSGP implementation and $25 million to the Department of Education for security measures at Jewish day schools and preschools.
Family Empowerment Scholarship Expansion
Put forth by Rep. Josie Tomkow, the measure focuses on adjusting the Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) program, which was set up to assist families with disabled students in covering educational expenses.
Previously, there was a set limit of 40,913 scholarships available for the 2023-2024 school year. However, Tomkow’s bill proposes to adjust that number to align with the actual number of eligible students as determined by scholarship funding organizations and the Department of Education. Additionally, starting from the 2024-2025 school year and onward, the total number of scholarships offered will increase annually by three percent, based on the total number of special needs students in the state (excluding those classified as “gifted”).