Toll credit program in mix as legislative leaders issue proclamation for Special Session
Image via Colin Hackley.

The program, pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, would give frequent commuters a break on tolls.

Florida’s legislative leaders, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and House Speaker Paul Renner, released their official proclamation for a Special Session, calling their colleagues to convene next Tuesday to stabilize the property insurance market and remove or reduce property taxes for Hurricane Ian victims.

Gov. Ron DeSantis previously mentioned those issues as the main need for a Special Session, but another topic was included in the proclamation: a toll credit program pushed by DeSantis to give commuters a break on road fees.

With a large surplus of $17 billion, thanks to inflation, federal stimulus funds and a robust rebounding economy from the COVID-19 pandemic, DeSantis cut tolls for commuters who go through at least 40 toll booths in a month. That six-month program, though, only applied to state-controlled tolls on the Florida Turnpike not on toll roads controlled by local expressway agencies, such as the Central Florida Expressway Authority, the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority and the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority.

Expanding the discount program to those roads requires legislative approval, but the Legislature isn’t scheduled to meet for its next regular Session until March 7, and new laws typically don’t take effect until July 1. DeSantis’ program, which began Sept. 1, was only set to last six months, so with the earlier Special Session, the program could be renewed and expanded earlier than expected.

DeSantis had previously called for tax relief for residents whose homes were destroyed or heavily damaged by Hurricane Ian. He extended deadlines for property taxes but needs legislative approval to eliminate the property taxes completely, which he said is necessary for people who don’t have use of their property or can’t live in their home after the Category 4 storm smashed into Southwest Florida on Sept. 28.

Lawmakers are also tasked with buttressing the beleaguered property insurance market, which has seen six companies fail this year, while other companies stop writing new policies and opt not to renew existing customers and drive up rates for homeowners.

The proclamation outlines specific areas for lawmakers to focus their reform efforts: reducing litigation costs, promoting the availability of reinsurance, improving claims handling practices, changing deadlines to file claims, making changes to coverage options and disputing practices, increasing oversight of the industry and allowing state-run Citizens Property Insurance to increase premiums and/or restrict the type of properties it can cover.

The Session is set to run from Dec. 12 to Dec. 16.

Gray Rohrer

One comment


    December 8, 2022 at 2:23 pm

    But the other local expressway authorities like CFX and MDX did pass a similar program for a limited time until the Governor announces if he will cover them from the surplus like he will do with the State owned toll roads. That is a better plan than the legislature tinkering with local expressway authorities.

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