Make us your home page
Instagram

Citizens bill in holding pattern as lawmaker looks for consensus on rate hikes

Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, is the sponsor of the Citizens overhaul bill. The bill has been delayed on the floor of the Senate three times in the past two weeks.

SCOTT KEELER | Times (2012)

Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, is the sponsor of the Citizens overhaul bill. The bill has been delayed on the floor of the Senate three times in the past two weeks.

TALLAHASSEE — A scheduled vote on a major insurance overhaul was again postponed Wednesday, indicating that fear of skyrocketing rates is weighing down the bill in the Florida Senate.

Bill sponsor Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said last week that he has enough support for the bill but wanted more time to make amendments and build more consensus.

Simmons pulled the bill from the agenda right before its first scheduled vote last week. The same thing happened Wednesday, when the bill was "temporarily postponed." After cruising through the committee process, the bill has been delayed on the floor of the Senate three times in the past two weeks. It has been amended nearly 40 times.

Simmons said he would amend the bill to address concerns of lawmakers who are worried about the pocketbook impact on their constituents.

The 100-page bill seeks to shrink the level of risk carried by Citizens Property Insurance Corp. by raising its rates and forcing its policyholders into the private market. The rate hikes are mostly focused on new policyholders at the state-run Citizens and those who have high-risk "wind-only" coverage.

Simmons defended his bill Wednesday, saying that the changes he had made would protect all current policyholders from any rate hikes.

"All I'm saying is let's dig ourselves out of this hole," he said, adding that he would present the bill for a vote today. "We're not raising anybody's rates."

Still, he said, some lawmakers were reluctant to vote for any insurance reform, given the sensitivity to rates.

"As soon as someone hears the possibility of rate hikes — even if it's just one person — some legislators run for the door," he said.

Citizens president Barry Gilway said earlier this month that the bill could lead to rate hikes of 60 percent or more in 11 counties across the state. Many of those large increases would be for the wind-only homeowners.

Homeowners, who have already seen insurance costs increase in recent years, generally oppose additional rate hikes. Lawmakers, including the Senate's 14 Democrats and at least 10 Republicans in districts where Citizens is a top insurer, are also wary of rate hikes. To pass, the bill (SB 1770) must garner at least 21 votes in the 40-seat chamber.

Simmons said last week that he would remove a provision of the bill that forces Citizens to charge rates that are higher than the top 20 private companies in a particular area. That concession could soften some of the rate hikes included in the bill. Gov. Rick Scott has already weighed in by stating that the bill should protect current homeowners from rate hikes greater than 10 percent per year.

A less aggressive House version of the insurance reform bill is scheduled to reach the floor soon.

Citizens bill in holding pattern as lawmaker looks for consensus on rate hikes 04/24/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 9:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 1 in 4 Florida adults aren't registered to vote, according to non-partisan group

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — Five million people in Florida who are eligible to vote aren't registered, according to a nationwide non-partisan group that helps improve the accuracy of state voter rolls.

    Voters line up in front of the Coliseum Ballroom in St. Petersburg on Nov. 8. A non-partisan group estimates that more than a quarter of Florida's adult-age population isn't registered to vote. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. As White House defends Jared Kushner, experts question his alleged back-channel move

    National

    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration argued over the weekend that back-channel communications are acceptable in building dialogue with foreign governments, part of an effort to minimize fallout over White House adviser Jared Kushner's reported discussion about creating a secret conduit to the Kremlin at a Russian …

    President-elect Donald Trump embraces son in law Jared Kushner, as his daughter Ivanka Trump stands nearby, after his acceptance speech at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of Nov. 9. [Mark Wilson | Getty Images]
  3. Tampa is 15th-most popular city to move to with U-Haul

    Markets

    TAMPA —Tampa is undoubtedly a destination point, at least according to U-Haul.

    Tampa is the No. 15 destination for people moving with U-Haul trucks. | Times file photo
  4. Florida's economy growing faster than other big states and far better than U.S. overall

    Business

    When it comes to economic growth, Florida's running alongside the leading states and well ahead of the United States as a whole.

  5. Westshore Marina District project takes shape with another acquisition

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — One of Tampa Bay's prime waterfront areas took another major step toward redevelopment Friday as WCI Communities bought 2.35 acres in Westshore Marina District.

    WCI Communities, Lennar's high-end subsidiary,has paid $2.5 million for 2.35 acres in the Westshore Marina District for 35 townhomes. WCI is under contract  to buy an additional 9.5 acres.
[BTI Partners]