Sun Sentinel: Democrats demand DeSantis tell Legislature to take up post-Surfside condo reform

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Washington, April 12, 2022 | comments
Democrats in the Florida congressional delegation sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday urging him to add condominium reform to the agenda of next week’s special legislative session. They said no more time should pass before changing rules governing condominiums in light of the June 2021 partial collapse of Champlain Towers South, in which 98 people were killed.
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Democrats demand DeSantis tell Legislature to take up post-Surfside condo reform
By ANTHONY MAN
SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL | APR 12, 2022 AT 6:45 AM
The Democrats in the Florida congressional delegation sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday urging him to add condominium reform to the agenda of next week’s special legislative session.

They said no more time should pass before changing rules governing condominiums in light of the June 2021 partial collapse of Champlain Towers South, in which 98 people were killed.

The letter to DeSantis originated with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Broward/Miami-Dade County Democrat whose district includes Surfside, where the tragedy occurred.

It was signed by all the Democrats from Florida and none of the Republicans.

“At least two condominiums have been evacuated because they were deemed unsafe for residents since the Champlain Towers South Collapse,” the letter said. “Ensuring the safety of condominium residents cannot wait another year. Lives are at stake.”

The House and Senate failed to agree on a package of safety reforms that would have required inspections of older buildings, mandated financial reserves for condo associations and provided more public transparency for maintenance and inspection reports.

Before Surfside, Broward and Miami-Dade counties were the only counties statewide to require condo associations in buildings 40 years old or older to conduct inspections of their buildings. And Florida law makes it easy for condo owners to take a pass on funding reserves for future repairs on their buildings.

The letter attempted to shame DeSantis with his own words: “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.’”

No reforms were approved during the annual legislative session, which ended March 14, after three days of overtime.

The session was dominated by hot-button social issues — abortion restrictions, limits on discussions of racism in schools and in employer training, and limits on discussions of LGBT+ issues in schools. Undone were property insurance issues and condominium changes.

DeSantis has already called a special session, beginning April 19, to come up with a congressional redistricting plan. The Legislature passed redistricting maps, but they were vetoed by DeSantis.

It’s become common since DeSantis took office for congressional Democrats to send him letters demanding that he take a particular action. The Republican governor typically ignores the letters.

Information from Sun Sentinel archives was used in this report.



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