Details on Florida's property insurance special session remain scant

'This is an economic issue,' says Dr. Susan MacManus
Posted at 6:05 PM, Apr 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-25 18:05:20-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It's been a week, and there is still no official proclamation bringing the Florida Legislature back to address high property insurance prices.

Last Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis promised lawmakers were coming back to Tallahassee in May to tackle the reform as prices rise and companies fail.

"What I will be signing this week is to set the dates for a special session in May," DeSantis said on April 18.

Seven days later, there is still no official call, and officials aren't offering much more than that.

In an email, the governor's press secretary said very little: "We do not have an update on this yet, but will be sure to let you know as soon as we do."

Dr. Susan MacManus, University of South Florida professor emerita speaks on possible special session on housing
Dr. Susan MacManus believes there will be action in Florida regarding high property insurance before the fall elections.

Sen. President Wilton Simpson, R-Spring Hill, also offered next to nothing when he was asked about it last Wednesday.

"The governor made an announcement the other day that we were going to come back, hopefully, sometime in May to take a look at it," Simpson said.

It is possible GOP leaders are still debating how the reform plan will look. Calls have included increasing the Florida catastrophe fund or further curbing costly litigation.

The Florida House resisted changes during the regular session.

Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, has often said he wants to see if 2021's insurance reform has an impact before going further.

Political experts remain confident something will happen before the November election. They believe doing nothing would be costly.

Rep. Fentrice Driskell, speaks about possible housing insurance special session
Rep. Fentrice Driskell says lawmakers should have acted sooner on the rising cost of property insurance.

"This is an economic issue that is a pressing a huge issue for a lot of Florida homeowners," said Dr. Susan MacManus, a University of South Florida professor emerita. "Homeowners are more likely to vote than non-homeowners."

Democrats, meanwhile, continue to ding Republicans for not acting sooner on the issue.

"Every day between now and that next special session is a day when Floridians are paying more on their property insurance and having less resources to put food on the table and care for their families," said Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa.

Whenever things are worked out, the proclamation for a special session will likely focus on more than property insurance. The governor has said he would like to see lawmakers include bills that came close to crossing the finish line.

Condominium reform following the Surfside collapse might be among them.