- Gov. Ron DeSantis called for a special session on property insurance and property tax relief
- DeSantis also signed an executive order extending property tax payment deadlines for affected homeowners in the FEMA disaster zone
- No dates have been set but the special session will occur “after the election” and “before the end of the year”
At an appearance in Fort Myers on Thursday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced a special legislative session would occur sometime in November or December aimed at addressing Florida’s struggling property insurance market, as well as providing targeted property tax relief for homeowners who lost their homes to Hurricane Ian. Exact dates were not announced.
DeSantis also signed an executive order extending property tax payment deadlines in all counties designated as disaster zones by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but said he did not have the authority to make the relief permanent.
“I do not have the authority as governor to eliminate property tax obligations,” DeSantis said. “So this will eliminate [those] payment dates. The reason we’re doing that is to give us time so that the legislature can come in sometime after the election but before the end of the year and provide rebates for the affected homeowners or property owners.”
Officials from hard hit Lee County were in attendance at the event. Matt Caldwell, the Lee County Property Appraiser, praised the move by DeSantis.
“As always, Governor DeSantis is on target. People who have lost their homes need tax relief ASAP,” Caldwell told The Capitolist. “Getting this done immediately after the election will make a world of difference in their lives.”
DeSantis, standing at a podium against a towering backdrop of hurricane debris, said he had spoken with both incoming House Speaker Paul Renner and incoming Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and described them both as “eager” to come in and address both issues.
Over the last several years, a number of private insurance companies have pulled out of Florida or been declared financially insolvent and ceased operations entirely, causing a spike in homeowners insurance premiums as other companies scramble to absorb the increased demand. Much of the market has spilled over to the state-subsidized Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, which was created as “the insurer of last resort,” intended to be used only for a small number of homeowners who could not find insurance coverage anywhere else. But because of the failing market, the number of Citizens Insurance policyholders has exploded to nearly 1.1 million policies.
Neither DeSantis nor Renner or Passidomo offered any hints as to how the legislature might address the state’s floundering insurance market. More than half a million claims have already been filed in the wake of Ian, with damages totaling nearly $6.5 billion.