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DeSantis’s Special Session Promise Brings Florida Legislative Leaders Together

TALLAHASSEE — Florida legislative leaders called a special session for early November covering a spread of topics, including broader sanctions against Iran promised by Gov. Ron DeSantis, enhanced security at Jewish day schools and recent hurricane and insurance relief measures.

House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, announced the Nov. 6-9 session late Friday afternoon, “in coordination with the governor’s office.”

Lawmakers were scheduled to be in Tallahassee that week for committee meetings. Most of those meetings now will likely be shelved for special session motion.

DeSantis also will not be around much. The third Republican presidential debate is scheduled for Nov. 8 in Miami and Florida’s governor, badly trailing GOP frontrunner, former President Trump, will probably be there.

Trump, who doesn’t plan to participate in the talk, is as a substitute planning a rally in nearby Hialeah.

Passidomo, in her statement unveiling the planned special session said, “we have now identified several issues that warrant our attention upfront of the 2024 Regular Session.”

A half-dozen topics are listed, including Florida’s response to the invasion of Israel by Hamas, aid for North Florida residents and the agriculture industry hit hard by the recent Hurricane Idalia, and doubtless extra money for the My Protected Florida Home program which is facing a backlog of grant applications.

This system, which provides inspections and state grants for residents making their homes more storm-resistant, is certainly one of the Legislature’s recent steps which have up to now done little to scale back skyrocketing homeowners’ insurance costs.

One other session proposal would make more state money available for college kids with unique abilities through the state’s Family Empowerment Scholarships, a voucher program. More special needs students than anticipated this school yr are in search of to participate in the massive voucher expansion approved by lawmakers earlier this yr.

DeSantis is asking for expanding Florida’s sanctions against Iran, which denies direct knowledge of the Oct. 7 invasion of Israel by Hamas but historically has supported the Islamist military and political organization.

Earlier Friday, DeSantis’ office pledged that motion was coming during a special session, without providing any details or dates.

“I can confirm that the strongest sanctions against Iran by any state within the nation, as proposed by Governor DeSantis, will probably be a part of an upcoming special session,” DeSantis spokesman Jeremy Redfern said in a prepared statement.

He added, “We look ahead to working with the Legislature to point out Florida’s continued support for Israel.”

The special session is predicted to incorporate the Legislature issuing a proper proclamation in support of the state of Israel together with more state spending to combat anti-Semitism, including heightened security at Jewish days schools.

The state has already steered $18 million toward safeguarding these schools.

Florida has listed Iran as a “foreign country of concern,” together with China, Russia, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and Syria. Since 2008, Florida has prohibited state agencies and native governments from contracting for goods and services of greater than $1 million with any business that has contracts with the Iranian government.

As well as, a state law passed this spring placed land-ownership restrictions on people from Iran and the opposite foreign countries of concern. Also, the federal government has imposed broad, strict sanctions on Iran since 1979.

Florida House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, issued a press release Friday tying the planned special session to DeSantis’ presidential bid.

“This looks like one more case of Ron DeSantis using the Legislature to attempt to help his failing presidential campaign,” Driskell said. “We will probably be watching closely to be sure that Floridians’ tax dollars aren’t wasted attempting to impress out-of-state GOP primary voters. DeSantis’ policy failures at home have left Floridians paying probably the most for homeowners insurance, auto insurance, and rent within the country. I believe Floridians would like their governor spend as much time addressing these pocketbook issues here as he spends on his ambitions.”

A bipartisan group of lawmakers gathered Wednesday within the Capitol to point out support for Israel.

“We all know the Iranian regime funds Hamas and assists other terror groups,” Renner said that day.

DeSantis also has taken other steps because the Hamas attack, including declaring a state of emergency that helped clear the best way for Florida to assist fly Americans back home.

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