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DeSantis signs bill for emergency fund

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Tallahassee, Florida – Gov. Ron DeSantis can spend $500 million during declared emergencies after he signed a pair of bills Thursday.

He also received nine other bills from the Legislature, including a measure that would extend COVID-19 legal protections for hospitals and other healthcare providers.

The bills (SB 96 and SB 98) to create the “Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund” were the first measures DeSantis has signed from this year’s legislative session, with the fund becoming available immediately.

Last year after questions were raised about seeding the fund with federal stimulus dollars, DeSantis vetoed a similar proposal. This year’s version called for using state general revenue.

DeSantis will have until Feb. 24 to act on the bill. The House and Senate also moved quickly during the session to pass the measure (SB 7014) to extend COVID-19 legal protections for hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare providers.

Last year, The Legislature approved legal protections, but they are set to expire on March 29. If signed by DeSantis, the bill would extend the protections to June 1, 2023.

The bill addresses lawsuits involving issues such as the transmission of COVID-19 and the treatment of people with COVID-19.

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