At the end of last week, U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., rounded up most of the Florida delegation on Capitol Hill in sending a letter asking the Florida Public Service Commission to work with the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Division of Emergency Management to temporarily suspend disconnections of all water, sewer, electricity and gas services in the state of Florida for 60 days during the national emergency of the coronavirus pandemic.
Besides Soto, other signers included U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., Kathy Castor, D-Fla., Charlie Crist, D-Fla., Val Demings, D-Fla., Ted Deutch, D-Fla., Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., Lois Frankel, D-Fla., Matt Gaetz, D-Fla., Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., Al Lawson, D-Fla., Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Donna Shalala, D-Fla., Ross Spano, D-Fla., Debbie Wasserman- Schultz, D-Fla., Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., and Ted Yoho, R-Fla
The full text of the letter is below:
We write to request that the Florida Public Service Commission work with the Florida Department of Health and Florida Division of Emergency Management to temporarily suspend disconnections of all water, sewer, electricity, and gas services in the State of Florida for 60 days during the national emergency of the coronavirus pandemic.
On March 9, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order Number 20-52, declaring a state of emergency and providing state and local government agencies broad power to respond to COVID-19. Especially in the middle of a public health crisis, Floridians must be able to rely on consistent access to power in their homes. At the same time, state agencies have a responsibility to prevent the spread of the virus while avoiding putting additional stress on utility customers and the workforce.
Earlier this week, the Mississippi Public Service Commission decided to temporarily suspend disconnections of these critical services for 60 days. Throughout the temporary suspension of disconnection, utility customers are still expected to pay outstanding bills and pay for services provided during the 60-day period. Connecticut, New Jersey, Ohio, and other states have put in place similar orders, as well as some local governments, including Seattle, Washington, and Austin, Texas.
Issuing a similar decision for the State of Florida will allow customers additional flexibility to deal with the spread of coronavirus and its economic impacts. We appreciate your full and fair consideration of our letter and your attention to this important matter.