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Democrats won’t get COVID-19 Special Session

Democrats wanted a Special Session to address unemployment, vote-by-mail and other issues.

Democratic lawmakers have failed in their effort to convene a Special Legislative Session to address the effects of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the state.

18 Senators and 51 House members voted against the calls for a Special Session. That’s according to a count tracked by the Department of State.

To be successful, 60% of each body was needed. Only 16 Senators and 48 House members could oppose the session for it to be scheduled.

In late April, Reps. Evan Jenne and Bobby DuBose wrote Gov. Ron DeSantis asking for a Special Session to discuss COVID-19 response.

The 2020 Session ended in mid-March as Florida and the rest of the nation began seriously grappling with the effects of the virus.

By then, it was too late to seriously develop any relief bills, though DeSantis has talked of adjusting the budget in response to the outbreak.

For weeks, Democrats have urged DeSantis to take executive action to speed up unemployment claims, prepare for a potential full vote-by-mail election, and tackle other issues.

“There are millions of Floridians whose lives have been thrown into chaos by this pandemic. Right now, it’s hard to make the case that government is doing everything it can to help them,” Jenne said in response to the failed Special Session bid, according to POLITICO.

“We proposed three ideas that would have provided real relief and safety to working families, but unfortunately our colleagues didn’t think they were worthy of consideration.”

Florida’s unemployment process has been plagued by problems partially triggered by a surge in applications, but more largely stemming from flaws in the $77 million website that handles claims.

Democratic lawmakers have also called for full vote-by-mail in this year’s elections, citing health concerns with in-person voting.

Democrats also revived years-long calls — continuously rebuffed by Republicans — to expand Medicaid coverage in the state.

House Speaker José Oliva has said lawmakers may need to convene to address the effect on the budget. So far, no concrete plan has developed on that front.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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