Florida Democrats pushing GOP lawmakers to address gas and housing affordability

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Gas prices in Florida hit another record high Wednesday, and the cost of rent is up by more than 30% compared to this time last year in Duval County.

Now Florida Democrats are calling on the governor and state lawmakers to do more to address the growing affordability crisis in Florida.

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For Dennis Waugerman, owner of Wauga Wauga Food Truck, fueling up is a necessity.

He told us he’s seen his fuel costs double over the past year.

“I mean, we’re having to raise our prices as well, which then affects the customers and everything, too, you know, so I mean it’s definitely hit us hard,” said Waugerman.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner and Democratic gubernatorial-hopeful Nikki Fried is pushing the governor to do more.

“Declare a state of emergency and work with us to help the people of our state,” said Fried in a virtual press conference Thursday morning.

That same day, she sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis, urging him to declare a state of emergency due to high food and gas costs.

She said such a declaration would allow her agency to waive a rule that prohibits gas stations from selling fuel below cost.

It was done during Hurricane Dorian.

Historical data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration does show gas prices dropped by roughly five cents in the two weeks following that action, but then jumped back up 10 cents on the third week and ended the month about just one and a half cents lower than it began.

“We need to be doing everything possible to help lower prices for Floridians in need, and I’m eager to take this step to lower gas prices,” said Fried.

Waugerman did tell us he’d like to see officials do more to lower prices, but declaring a state of emergency seemed premature.

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“I mean, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s gotten to that point to where we declare a state of emergency, you know, but I mean we’re close to it,” said Waugerman.

Democratic state lawmakers are also pressuring the governor to expand the call for next week’s special session on property insurance to address other price hikes.

“To expand it to include the rising cost of rent,” said State Representative Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando).

In Duval, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment has jumped 7% since the start of the year and is up 34% compared to this time last year.

“Me and my staff, we’ve literally worked to rehouse this past week alone three families,” said State Representative Angie Nixon (D-Jacksonville).

Whether the governor responds to either of the calls remains to be seen.

Either way, Floridians will at least see gas prices drop by 25 cents in October thanks to the gas tax holiday the governor approved.

Rents could also see a dip if lawmakers are able to pass meaningful property insurance reform next week.