The Phoenix Flyer

FL House unanimously approves grants, tax breaks for Hurricane Idalia relief

By: - November 7, 2023 2:13 pm

CRYSTAL RIVER, FLORIDA – AUGUST 30: An airboat passes through flood waters in the downtown area after Hurricane Idalia passed offshore on August 30, 2023 in Crystal River, Florida. Hurricane Idalia hit the Big Bend area on the Gulf Coast of Florida as a Category 3 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The Florida House of Representatives unanimously approved a measure on Tuesday aimed at giving grants and tax breaks to North Florida businesses and residents impacted by Hurricane Idalia, as well as beefing up funding for Floridians to make their homes more resilient for future storms.

The vote was 110-0. The measure will go before the full Senate on Wednesday.

The only controversial aspect of the bill is a provision that doesn’t even deal with Idalia, but hurricanes Ian and Nicole that hit Florida in 2022.

The provision extends legislation passed earlier this year that prohibits local governments in ten Florida counties within 100 miles of the landfall of Hurricanes Ian and Nicole from adopting more restrictive comprehensive plans or land development regulations. That order was set to expire on October 1, 2024, but the new legislation extends that out until October 1, 2026.

Orange County Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani asked North Florida GOP Rep. Jason Shoaf, the bill sponsor, why that was inserted into the bill.

“After the last hurricane, what we want people to do is to rebuild. We want them to get back into their normal life. We want them to be able to rebuild their homes, repair it. What we don’t want is…county commissions or city commissions…to come in and thrown in extra burdensome regulations that would impede the recovery of our citizens. So we’re extending that,” Shoaf said.

The $416 million measure includes more than $181 million to the My Safe Florida Home program. That program was created during the 2022 legislation to provide hurricane mitigation inspections and grants for qualified homeowners up to $10,000.

According to the House analysis of the bill, there are more than 17,000 applications on a waiting list for the program. Shoaf said that the funding in the bill will clear that waiting list.

The bill also includes $25 million from the Local Government Housing Trust Fund to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation for the 2023-2024 fiscal year to help homeowners with post-hurricane recovery efforts. Shoaf told Rep. Eskamani that the funds can be used for rental assistance as well.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.