House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Sen. Jeff Brandes are making the push for an overhaul on how the state handles hurricanes.
On Tuesday, Corcoran announced the creation of a special committee to help prepare Florida for large, catastrophic storms like Hurricane Irma. The new Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness will take a closer look at how Florida officials managed Hurricane Irma and to find ways to improve hurricane preparedness in the future.
The committee will make recommendations on how Florida can respond more effectively should any hurricanes hit the Sunshine State in the future.
Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, urged state lawmakers to forget “business as usual” for next year’s legislative session and instead hone in collective efforts to ensure legislators are all focused on the same mission.
To Corcoran, that means local projects would be a no-no -- instead, money for citywide and county programs would be better served going to victims of the monster storm and helping prep the Sunshine State moving forward, he said.
“I ask all of you, and our colleagues in the Senate, to join me in setting aside the business as usual of pork projects and instead invest all of those funds to either assist those in need after Hurricane Irma or prepare Florida against the threat to life and property that will surely come with future storms,” Corcoran said.
The commission will likely be paired with intense efforts from lobbyists on nursing home regulations, utility companies as well as local law enforcement officials, all of whom have stakes to claim in hurricane response efforts.
The 16-member committee is a mix of both Republicans and Democrats from around the state as well as lawmakers who have been faithful to Corcoran during his time as House Speaker.
Rep. Jeannette Nunez, R-Miami, will chair the committee. Republican representatives on the committee include Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, Dane Eagle, R-Cape Coral, Michael Grant, R-Port Charlotte, Holly Raschein, R-Key Largo, Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, Ray Rodriguez, R-Estero, Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor and Cyndi Stevenson, R-St Johns.
Democrats on the committee include Robert Asencio, D-Miami, Kristin Jacobs, D-Coconut Creek, Jared Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs, Sean Shaw, D-Tampa and Richard Stark, D-Weston.
Other state legislators are also pushing for a second glance at how Florida handled Irma.
On the Senate side, Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, called for a special review commission of hurricane response efforts, pushing Gov. Rick Scott to create a special commission to review the disaster preparedness, response, and recovery of the state and local public entities involved in Hurricane Irma efforts.
“The response by Governor Scott, emergency management officials, and our first responders to Hurricane Irma has saved lives and overcome numerous challenges,” Brandes said. “We should learn from the experiences of this effort, while those lessons are fresh in our minds in order to positively impact future preparedness.”
Gov. Scott has yet to form a special commission.