Proposal to create emergency fund for Governor’s Office clears first committee

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'This is really designed to facilitate the time when an emergency arises and we're not here.'

A Senate committee OK’d a bill to provide the Governor’s Office with a designated pot of money for use during emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic or hurricanes.

On Tuesday, the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee unanimously advanced the bill (SB 1892).

Republican Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. of Hialeah is the bill sponsor.

Diaz’s proposal would create an “Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund” within the Executive Office of the Governor.

The fund would be used as the Governor’s primary funding source during an emergency response.

“This is really designed to facilitate the time when an emergency arises, and we’re not here,” Diaz said.

Diaz explained the Legislature would decide the initial funding amount.

Thereafter, any eligible money could be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

To that point, Chairman Tom Wright said the new fund could help the state remedy FEMA’s sluggish response time.

“I think that kind of came out of this Hurricane Michael situation where our three senators from the Panhandle were quite beside themselves that it took FEMA so long, and they were just desperate for any help at all.”

Notably, Gov. Ron DeSantis is warm on the legislation.

Last week, he recommended that the Legislature allocate $1 billion to start the fund out of Florida’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act.

The Governor’s $4.1 billion outline accounts for less than half the roughly $10 billion federal stimulus package headed to Florida.

“Ideally, we would never have to touch general revenue again to respond to natural disasters if we’re able to establish this fund right now,” DeSantis said.

The proposal will appear next before the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development. After that, it will appear before the Senate Appropriations Committee for its final committee stop.

If signed into law, the bill takes effect July 1.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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