Fla. Cong. Democrats: Remember Surfside, Pass Condo Reform in Special Session

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Washington, April 12, 2022 | comments
Ensuring the safety of condominium residents cannot wait another year. Lives are at stake.
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Washington, DC – Florida’s Congressional Democrats last night called on Gov. Ron DeSantis to put condominium reform on its agenda for next week’s special legislative session, and uphold a commitment to tackle the issue after 98 people died in a Surfside building collapse last year. 

“The Florida House and Senate each had condominium reform legislation that failed to pass both chambers in the waning hours of the 2022 legislative session,” said the letter led by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23). “Ensuring the safety of condominium residents cannot wait another year. Lives are at stake.”

Signers of the letter also include Reps. Kathy Castor (FL-14), Ted Deutch (FL-22), Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Lois Frankel (FL-21), Charlie Crist (FL-13), Val Demings (FL-10), Al Lawson (FL-05), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Darren Soto (FL-09) and Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20).

As part of an ongoing federal response into the collapse of Champlain Towers, Wasserman Schultz last year secured $22 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to conduct a technical investigation into the deadly tragedy. The funds allow NIST to discern the sources of failure, provide recommendations to rectify shortcomings in existing building standards to prevent similar disasters. Congressman Crist advanced similar language to authorize that investigative funding, and all of Florida’s Congress members voted to approve it.

Florida’s Democrats in Congress are calling on Tallahassee state lawmakers to enact reforms to help protect the more than one million condo owners and residents in the Sunshine State. Read the entire letter below:

Dear Governor DeSantis:

Last summer ninety-eight of our fellow Floridians lost their lives when the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside partially collapsed. The next day President Biden signed an Emergency Declaration authorizing federal assistance and Congress followed that by providing $22 million in supplemental funding to support the investigation into the collapse.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, you made a commitment that Florida would take action. On July 8, you stated “if there is something identified that would have implications broader than Champlain Towers, then obviously we're [going to] take that and act as appropriate.”

Following the collapse, a task force organized by the Florida Bar recommended that lawmakers overhaul the state’s condominium laws. At least two condominiums have been evacuated because they were deemed unsafe for residents since the Champlain Towers South Collapse. The Florida House and Senate each had condominium reform legislation that failed to pass both chambers in the waning hours of the 2022 legislative session. Ensuring the safety of condominium residents cannot wait another year. Lives are at stake.  

We urge you make condominium reform a priority and add it to the call for the special legislative session beginning on April 19th.

Just last week a five-story, 60 unit building in North Miami Beach, Florida was ordered to evacuate following an evaluation by an engineering firm that found the building to be structurally unsound. You cannot wait to act any longer.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

Sincerely,

Members of Congress

CC:

The Honorable Wilton Simpson

President, Florida Senate

The Honorable Chris Sprowls

Speaker, Florida House of Representatives  

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