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DeSantis Defends Lack Of Legislation On Building Safety Following Surfside Building Collapse

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Governor Ron DeSantis responded to criticism he did not do enough during the legislative session to help pass a bill to make condos safer following the Surfside collapse.

"Actually, when we literally were there, right when Surfside happened, I said, whatever needs to be done, I want to support," DeSantis said during a news conference Tuesday morning.

A bill that would have provided sweeping reforms to improve inspections and ensure that critical repairs to a building are done in a timely manner died when State Representative Danny Perez and State Senator Jennifer Bradley couldn't work out differences in their respective bills.

There are 3.5 million Floridians who live in condos and 60 percent of their buildings were built more than 30 years ago.

Negotiations between the House and the Senate broke down over several issues, including whether buildings would have the ability to waive the collection of reserve funds – money that is supposed to be set aside to make critical repairs. Perez didn't want to allow any waivers while the Senate didn't eliminate the ability to waive reserve funds, but it did make it much harder and provided greater oversight.

"We wanted to be able to sign something that was going to make an impact," DeSantis said. "But the idea that somehow I was trying to not support it was not true."

The issue wasn't whether DeSantis would sign a bill, but rather did he or his staff work with legislators to come up with solutions.

While the Governor was active pushing other issues through the legislature, he remained silent on any Surfside reforms, drawing a rebuke from Martin Langesfeld, whose sister Nicole, and her husband Luis, died in the collapse.

"He did absolutely nothing," said Langesfeld. "Once the cameras are left, maybe three weeks after the collapse, he left. We've requested to meet with him countless times. Many families have requested to meet with him and he acts like we do not exist."

DeSantis denied snubbing families of the victims, including Langesfeld.

"I've met with him several times," DeSantis said. "I've met with a lot of the families multiple times. I never in any way indicated opposition to anything."

On Tuesday, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz released a letter signed by other members of Congress calling on DeSantis to find a way to address the safety reforms immediately. The Governor said if legislators could agree on something he would be willing to include it in a special session.

"If they can do it, then absolutely," DeSantis said. "But you know, they have to agree on something. It's the same thing we want with insurance. And so the minute they tell me that that is something that they have the ability to get across, we could add it."

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