Senator Bill Nelson talks unemployment, flood insurance

CREATED Jan. 23, 2014

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- US Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) visited Fort Myers today discussing a variety of issues including Florida's troubled unemployment website and the National Flood Insurance Program. 

Nelson was instrumental in getting US Department of Labor officials to intervene with Florida's new, $63 million unemployment website that delayed insurance claims for thousands of Floridians since its launch October 15. 

Nelson said he didn't think it would take federal officials getting involved for Floridians to get their unemployment benefits.

"It's the responsibility of the state of Florida to run the program, I don't know why they couldn't have figured this out three months ago," Nelson said. 

Governor Scott and the Republican Party of Florida recently criticized Nelson for not doing enough to stop rate hikes through the National Flood Insurance Program.  The Republican Party of Florida sent an email saying Nelson should be calling on President Obama to stop the rate hikes. 

Nelson said today he has already tried that and the most promising option right now is a bill to delay the rate hikes by four years and allow FEMA to conduct an affordability study.  The Senate is expected to vote on the bi-partisan bill Monday, but Nelson said the problem is in the hands of Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner. 

Nelson wouldn't address reporters' questions about what will happen if the bill doesn't pass, saying he remains optimistic that it will. 

The Senator also discussed his support for medical marijuana. 

"I support medical marijuana, I do not support the legalization of recreational use," he said.

The Senator also discussed Representative Trey Radel's cocaine bust. 

"If you're asking me, if I were busted for some crime, do I think the people of my constituency would want me to step down? And I think the answer is yes," he said.