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The Florida Senate

President Office — Press Release


November 8, 2023

CONTACT: Katie Betta, (850) 487-5229

Florida Senate Passes Legislation to Support Israel, Expand Hurricane Relief, Resilience, and School Choice

Increased Sanctions on Iran, Protection from Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes, Support for Israel - Hurricane Idalia Relief - Statewide Resilience Funding for Homeowners - Additional School Choice Scholarships for Students with Unique Abilities

Tallahassee —

The Florida Senate today concluded Special Session C, passing a slate of legislation in advance of the 2024 Legislative Session. Special Session bills expanded hurricane relief and resilience efforts in communities devastated by Hurricane Idalia, including funding for the My Safe Florida Home program to help Floridians fortify their homes against storm damage thereby reducing insurance premiums. Additional legislation expanded the number of students served by the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities.

The Special Session focused heavily on support for Israel, including bills to strengthen existing sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran and other state and corporate sponsors of terror, and significant funds to guard against Anti-Semitic violence and hate crimes here in Florida. The Senate also passed a resolution strongly expressing support for the State of Israel to exist as an independent nation and condemning unprovoked and barbaric attacks by terrorist regimes.

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) released the following statements on the special session legislation.

“Given recent events including the horrific attacks against Israel in the Middle East and devastation to the Big Bend caused by Hurricane Idalia here at home, there were several issues that warranted our attention in advance of the Regular Session. I appreciate the strong partnership with Governor DeSantis and Speaker Renner in bringing these issues forward for consideration during a special session. Unlike the dysfunction we so often see in Washington, when challenges come our way here in Florida, our Governor, Cabinet, and Legislature work together.”

Hurricane Relief and Resilience: SB 2-C/HB 1-C by Senator Corey Simon (R-Tallahassee)

“Senator Simon worked closely with Commissioner Simpson on a robust, comprehensive package of hurricane relief for the Big Bend. Senator Simon has been on the forefront of this effort since Hurricane Idalia devastated portions of his district in August, and Commissioner Simpson has invaluable experience and perspective regarding what it will take for our agriculture and aquaculture businesses to make a full recovery. From targeted relief programs that benefit homeowners and businesses, to investment in no-interest loan and cost sharing programs to help our agriculture and timber industries, to bridge programs that help local governments continue operations and fund recovery projects, we have an outstanding relief package that will impact families, businesses, and entire communities across Florida’s Big Bend in a meaningful way.”

“I would also like to thank CFO Patronis for his work to administer the My Safe Florida Home program. SB 2-C funds applications as of October 15. I look forward to further conversations about this important program during the regular session as we continue to evaluate ways to strengthen our infrastructure against storm damage, while stabilizing and lowering insurance costs.”

Additional Funding for Students with Unique Abilities: SB 4-C/HB 3-C by Senator Jay Collins (R-Tampa)

“HB 1 (2023) expanded eligibility for school choice scholarships to all Florida students. With the start of the new school year, we are seeing an increase in the number of students with unique abilities applying for the scholarship. In an effort led by Speaker Renner, with our dedicated Senate sponsor, Senator Collins, we addressed demand for the unique abilities portion of the Family Empowerment Scholarship. Families will now have until December 15, 2023, to apply for scholarships in the current school year.”

Security Infrastructure to Guard Against Anti-Semitic Violence, Hate Crimes: SB 6-C/7-C by Senator Alexis Calatayud (R-Miami)

“In recent years, we have increased state support for security at our Jewish Day Schools. With incidents of anti-Semitism on the rise, we need to make certain that entities at risk for hate crimes have the security resources and infrastructure they need.  This legislation builds on legislation Senator Calatayud sponsored during the 2023 Regular Session, to assist nonprofits at risk for hate crimes with enhanced security. The bill appropriates $45 million for security efforts that will support Jewish temples, day schools, and other nonprofit entities at risk for hate crimes.”                 

Support for Israel: SB 8-C by Senator Lori Berman (D-Lantana)

“Senator Berman’s strong resolution, which unanimously passed the Senate today, formally expresses support for the State of Israel to exist as a sovereign, independent nation, with the right to defend itself and protect its citizens from indiscriminate violence and terrorism; condemn the unprovoked and barbaric attacks by terrorist regimes, including Hamas, against Israel, its citizens, and Americans; and demand the immediate end to any financial support, whether directly or indirectly, to the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, or other entities that publicly support these attacks.”

Expanded Sanctions Against Terrorist Regimes: SB 10-C/HB 5-C by Senator Bryan Avila (R-Miami Springs)

“With each passing day, we learn more about the atrocities Hamas and other terror groups are waging against the Israeli people. While our laws already have strong sanctions against regimes that support terrorism, this great legislation championed by Governor DeSantis, strengthens existing sanctions against the Islamic Republican of Iran and other state and corporate sponsors of terror. We can, and we must, do everything within our authority as a state government to support Israel and condemn terror, hatred, and violence.

“Since the day he took office, Governor DeSantis has been steadfast in supporting Israel and making certain our state has the toughest possible sanctions against Iran and other regimes that support terrorism. His continuous leadership makes it clear that Florida will not tolerate anti-Semitism or hatred of any kind.”