Florida 2023 Special Legislative Session Recap

Moss Grows on Trees Framing the Capital Building in Tallahasse Florida

Governor Ron DeSantis called a special legislative session last week to show support for Israel. While convened, lawmakers also addressed Hurricane Idalia relief, school choice for disabled students, and home insurance costs.

Here’s a summary of the critical issues addressed by lawmakers and signed into law by Governor DeSantis. 

Support for Israel and Actions Against Antisemitism

The special session was marked by a strong show of support for Israel following the October 7 attack, with resolutions passed in both the House (Resolution 9C) and Senate (Resolution 8C), condemning Hamas and reaffirming Israel’s right to self-defense. These resolutions, sponsored by Rep. Katherine Waldron and Sen. Lori Berman, also reiterated bipartisan opposition to any ceasefire with Hamas, reflecting a unified stance against antisemitism.

Economic Sanctions on Iran

Introduced by Rep. John Snyder, House Bill 5C expands economic sanctions against Iran to target associated businesses in industries such as finance, construction, and manufacturing. The legislation prohibits the investment of State of Florida funds in such businesses, furthering Florida’s commitment to countering Iran-backed terrorism.

Security Funding for Jewish Institutions

In a move to bolster security amid rising antisemitism, the Legislature approved House Bill 7C, establishing a Nonprofit Security Grant Program with a budget of $45 million, including a significant allocation specifically for Jewish day schools and preschools. This program, aimed at organizations at high risk of terrorist attacks or hate crimes, prioritizes physical security enhancements (e.g., upgraded locks, fences, and lighting), security personnel, and emergency response training.

Hurricane Relief

House Bill 1C, sponsored by Rep. Jason Shoaf, is a comprehensive Hurricane Idalia relief package, addressing the major storm that made landfall in Florida’s Big Bend. It allocates $417 million for affected residents, helping them to rebuild and fortify their homes and businesses. 

Education Initiatives

House Bill 3C expands the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program, specifically lifting caps for students with disabilities and addressing waitlist funding. It will increase the number of scholarship students each year, starting in the 2024-2025 school year, by 3% of the total exceptional student enrollment, excluding gifted students.

Memorandum from Senate President Kathleen Passidomo

Shortly after the special session ended, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo sent a memo to all Senators outlining Florida’s healthcare workforce challenges. In it, she expressed urgency about strengthening the healthcare system amid the state’s expected population growth, calling on them to introduce innovative solutions during the upcoming regular legislative session, which starts January 9. 

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