Strange alliances on property insurance
The Senate property insurance package currently up on the floor -- and expected to pass-- has seen some interesting teamwork. Republican Sen. Jeff Atwater has spent much of the last two weeks working with Republican Sen. J.D. Alexander, who runs the committee where the bill last stopped.
Atwater has lately sounded a lot like Gov. Charlie Crist in his pounding of the industry and Alexander has historically been one of the Senate's chief defenders of the insurance industry.
Among other results, those negotiations resulted in caps, set fairly high, for increased penalties (up to $100,000 from the current $20,000 for willful violations), which regulators can charge insurers for failing to meet regulator's rules and deadlines. With the recently added caps, insurers wouldn't be able to be charged more than 5 percent of their surplus for willful violations.
But Alexander's role appears to have passed to Sen. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, an insurance agent who has loudly argued and voted against this package in every committee and on the floor. Minority Leader Sen. Steve Geller, who as co-chair of the special select insurance panel has also worked with Sen. Atwater on the bill, has had to argue against his Democratic colleague's efforts.Update: Rules chair Sen. Jim King tells Sen. Al Lawson to Behave! "Let us not forget the basic purview. We do not personalize we do not castigate. We do not cast aspersions," King says.