- The Senate Fiscal Committee unanimously approved legislation on Monday that would provide additional hurricane recovery aid to afflicted counties.
- The legislation, proposed by Rep. Corey Simon, includes provisions for tax assessments of unused agricultural equipment at salvage value, sales tax refunds on materials for hurricane repair, and enables state departments to distribute loans, grants, and other forms of financial assistance.
- The measure would further allocate more than $400 million to several initiatives including $176 million to provide mitigation grants under the My Florida Safe Home Program, $30 million to match federal disaster relief funds, and $25 million to assist in housing recovery efforts.
In its first meeting of the ongoing Special Session, Senate lawmakers on the Fiscal Committee unanimously voted in favor of legislation that would provide additional financial aid for hurricane recovery efforts.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Corey Simon, 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 allocate more than $400 million to several initiatives including $176 million to provide mitigation grants under the My Florida Safe Home Program, $30 million to match federal disaster relief funds, and $25 million to assist in housing recovery efforts.
“It’s been a tough few months,” said Simon. “This is just one bill. We’ve got more work to do. But, after looking at this bill and going over it for the last several weeks, there’s a reason to have hope that we can come back and build back stronger than before the storm.”
Additionally, Simon’s legislation would fund a range of programs focused on repairing hurricane damage, with particular attention to improving emergency management systems and bolstering the agricultural industry’s resilience.
When questioned, the representative dismissed concerns about the proposed salvage value tax assessments, denying that the bill would provide tax breaks to Georgia-Pacific, a company that recently announced the closure of its Foley Cellulose Mill in Taylor County, resulting in the loss of 500 jobs.
“This bill is in no way to benefit a company that left my district destitute,” Simon said. “Georgia-Pacific not only took the 500 or so jobs from the local factory but the thousands of jobs that have been impacted by their closing. We will look to tighten down any language necessary. This bill is for the people who have suffered immensely because of this storm.”
According to data from Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR), insured losses from Hurricane Idalia are approaching $300 million.
According to the data on OIR’s site, a total of 24,250 claims have been reported since the hurricane’s landfall, totaling $287.8 million. Of these, 3,208 remain open with payments, while another 3,727 are open without any payments being made to claimants. Further, 10,546 claims have been closed with payments, and 6,769 claims closed without payments. To date, 71.4 percent of the total claims have been settled.
Residential properties have borne the brunt of the damages, with 16,532 claims filed. Specifically, homeowners have submitted 11,206 claims, of which 73.5 percent have been resolved. Mobile homeowners have reported 3,661 claims with a 75.8 percent closure rate.
Meanwhile, commercial properties account for 1,226 claims, though only 37.0 percent have been settled thus far. Moreover, the business interruption category has seen 18 claims, with a 33.3 percent resolution rate.