(The Center Square) — The Florida Legislature’s special session began Monday, with lawmakers aiming to work through several issues facing the state.
Florida lawmakers will be tackling a series of bills ranging from disaster relief to the expansion of school vouchers for children with disabilities. Other bills could impose sanctions on businesses involved with Iran.
Thirty-one bills have already been filed and here are a few of the more important ones:
House Bill 1C and HB 2C are both disaster relief bills that could revise provisions for counties and municipalities that were impacted by Hurricane Idalia. According to the HB1C analysis, preliminary insured losses are estimated to be over $9.6 billion.
This included the destruction of millions of acres of agricultural land with pastures and row crops taking some of the biggest damage and total losses are predicted to be between $78.8 million and $370.9 million. The bill would relieve sales tax in certain circumstances, like purchasing building materials and farm equipment.
Senate Bill 4C and identical bill HB 3C would revise the amount of students that are eligible for the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program. Families of students living with disabilities will have the opportunity to apply for funding from the state to assist with a variety of educational expenses.
Previously, the calculated maximum number of scholarships available for the 2023-2024 school year was 40,913. The bill would revise this and would clarify that beginning in the 2024-2025 school year, the maximum number of scholarships available will increase by 3%.
House Resolution 9C and Senate Resolution 8C are similar bills that express support for the State of Israel to exist as a sovereign and independent nation with the right to defend itself. The bills further state that the state of Florida condemns the unprovoked attacks on Israel by Hamas, which killed 1,400 people, including Israelis and Americans.
HR 11C further expresses this while also condemning both the Hamas attacks in Israel and the anti-Semitic violence being committed against Jewish people on college campuses.
HB 7C and companion bill SB 6C would expand the Nonprofit Security Grant Program to include funds for protecting Jewish day schools, places of worship, museums and community centers that are at high risk of hate crimes.
HB 5C and companion bill SB 10C would revise provisions related to the criteria for being identified as a scrutinized company with activities with Iran’s terrorism sectors list. Such companies would be essentially barred from doing business in the Sunshine State.