'Multiple companies' potentially impacted by Florida plan to sanction Iran, lawmaker says

'We do not wanna release any names prematurely because we know that that could have serious consequences,' Rep. John Snyder says
Posted at 5:53 PM, Nov 02, 2023

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida lawmakers plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in the upcoming special session to sanction Iran and support Israel's war against Hamas militants. The details of the early return to Tallahassee are now more clear after legislators filed five bills in both the House and Senate on Thursday morning.

Front and center is supporting Israel's ongoing and intensifying conflict abroad. A resolution under consideration would declare the Legislature's support for the Jewish state's right to exist and defense against terrorism. While largely symbolic, state Sen. Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach, believed approval would speak volumes.

"This is an opportunity for my fellow legislators and the people of the state of Florida to join in with us and show that we support the State of Israel ... and that anti-semitism is not OK," Berman, who is carrying the Senate's version of the bill, said. "Given this situation in the world right now, we all need to recognize that words matter."

Gov. Ron DeSantis is also getting his legislative plan to sanction Iran. The nation has denied involvement in the latest conflict — but has supported Hamas militants in the past.

According to the bill's language, Florida would drastically restrict local governments from contracting with the foreign nation. The measure also seeks to cut state investments in companies tied to Iranian industry.

"In speaking with state regulators, we do have companies that are under concern that we do feel like could meet this new threshold," state Rep. John Snyder, R-Palm City, said.

Snyder will carry the House version of the bill. While he didn't offer specifics, the lawmaker said state officials had identified "multiple companies" in Florida's portfolio that could get booted if the sanctions become law.

"We do not wanna release any names prematurely, because we know that that could have serious consequences," Snyder said. "But what will happen is that in January, any company that is found to meet this new threshold will be made public. They'll have 90 days to either correct their action or, again, all Florida funds will be divested from their portfolios."

The rest of the bills are centered on funding various programs.

One bill moves around $350 million in previously allocated funds to boost the state's new universal school voucher program. Specifically, it would allow more families access if they have a student with unique abilities.

Another measure seeks $35 million to help upgrade security at Jewish temples, day schools, and other nonprofits at risk of hate crimes. Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, is carrying a version of the bill.

"Just filed HB 7C for the special session which will allocate $35 million in emergency funding to protect Florida's Jewish day schools, synagogues, Holocaust museums, and cultural centers," Fine wrote in an online post. "The Florida Legislature is stepping up to protect Florida's Jews."

Disaster relief would get the biggest chunk. More than $400 million is slated for not only helping with Hurricane Idalia recovery but also refilling Florida's grant program, which hardens homes against severe weather. Officials told us the My Safe Florida Home Program could reduce insurance premiums for those who participate by hundreds of dollars.

"I think that home hardening is one of the best things consumers can do," Michael Yaworsky, Florida's insurance commissioner, said. "It will also help to make it a more attractive underwriting position for the state of Florida."

Some Democrats have complained there isn't a lot of substance to this special session. They're pushing for more major reform to address the state's insurance crisis. Even so, many expect bipartisan support of numerous, if not, all of the proposed measures. Bills would likely be headed to the governor by the middle of next week.