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President Office — Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 11, 2018

CONTACT: Katie Betta, (850) 487-5229


Legislature Passes Hurricane Recovery and Preparedness Measures

Safeguards for vulnerable elders, affordable housing for impacted communities, broad-based tax relief measures to aid in recovery and preparedness

Tallahassee —

The 2018 Legislative Session, which concludes today, included a robust review of issues related to relief and recovery from the 2017 Hurricane Season, and preparation for future storms. Session ends with the passage of several key policy enhancements and funding investments designed to aid families and communities impacted by the storms, establish safeguards to protect the most vulnerable Floridians, and provide key tax breaks that incentivize preparedness for the upcoming hurricane season.

 

“Florida’s Executive Branch, led by Governor Scott, mounted an extraordinary effort in state preparation for, and the initial state response to, the devastating hurricanes that impacted our state last year. In the immediate aftermath of the storm’s destructive trail across Florida, many Senators worked with Governor Scott, members of the Cabinet, our state agencies, and local government officials to address immediate life-safety needs in their home districts, including ensuring the availability of clean water, meals, and shelter for the most vulnerable members of our communities,” said Senate President Joe Negron (R-Stuart).

 

“In the months that followed, through community meetings, committee presentations, public testimony, discussion and debate, we gained a deeper understanding of the long-term, statewide impacts of these powerful storms. We learned of devastating impacts to families who lost vulnerable loved ones in a South Florida nursing home, and the tremendous damage and loss felt by our agriculture community. We heard testimony regarding the heroism of our Florida National Guard, and Fish and Wildlife Officers, and local first responders. And, we witnessed the resiliency of local communities, particularly in the Florida Keys, who rallied together to overcome horrible losses of life and property,” continued President Negron. “I am proud of the Senate for conducting a thorough review of these critical issues and pleased that the Legislature passed a comprehensive recovery and preparedness package.”

 

2018 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday

House Bill 7087 creates a seven-day “disaster preparedness” sales tax holiday from June 1 to June 7, 2018, for disaster preparedness supplies. Tax-free items include: flashlights and lanterns costing $20 or less; radios and tarps costing $50 or less; coolers costing $30 or less; and, generators costing $750 or less, among others. 

 

Tax Exemptions for Hurricane Recovery

House Bill 7087 also creates several exemptions related to hurricane response, preparedness and recovery including:

  • Sales tax exemptions for farms damaged by 2017 hurricanes for building materials used to repair nonresidential farm buildings, and farm fencing.
  • Refund of taxes on fuel used for agricultural shipments post Hurricane Irma.
  • Citrus processing and packing equipment not being used will be assessed at the salvage value for the 2018 property tax.
  • Agricultural property taken out of production can retain an agricultural classification for property tax purposes for five years.
  • Residential homestead property damaged by a natural disaster is eligible for a refund of taxes paid.
  • Documentary stamp tax exemption for emergency loans.
  • Sales tax exemption for generators purchased for a nursing home or assisted living facility.

 

Safeguards for Vulnerable Floridians

House Bill 7099 ratifies Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) Rule 59A-4.1265, F.A.C., entitled “Emergency Environmental Control for Nursing Homes.” This rule requires, by June 1, 2018, each nursing home to acquire an alternative power source to ensure temperatures are maintained at 81 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler in a sufficient portion of the facility to accommodate all of the facility’s residents.

 

Senate Bill 7028 ratifies Rule 58A-5.036, F.A.C., entitled “Emergency Environmental Control for Assisted Living Facilities” by the Department of Elder Affairs. This rule requires, by June 1, 2018, each assisted living facility to acquire an alternative power source to ensure temperatures are maintained at 81 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler in a sufficient portion of the facility to accommodate all of the facility’s residents.

 

Hurricane Recovery and Response Measures Included in the State Budget

House Bill 5001, the 2018-19 General Appropriations Act, includes significant funding investments related to hurricane response and recovery. Several highlights are listed below.

  • $15 million for affordable housing for the Florida Keys.
  • $15 million for statewide LiDAR mapping.
  • $3.5 million for the Department of Emergency Management’s Statewide Emergency Alert and Notification System.
  • $11 million for hurricane mitigation projects, including $5.9 million for the Monroe County Emergency Operations Center.
  • $90 million for federal Community Development Block Grants specifically targeted for disaster recovery in our communities.
  • $126 million in current year budget authority to provide educational services for students displaced by Hurricane Maria.
  • $11.2 million for beach recovery to repair damages from Hurricane Irma.