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Florida House will wrestle today with property insurance, gambling

TALLAHASSEE — The Senate has another quiet Friday, but in the House, representatives will take up two weighty issues: Florida's gambling compact with the Seminole Indians, and how best to deal with the Sunshine State's troubled property insurance market.

The House Select Committee on Seminole Indian Compact Review meets this morning to vote on its proposed gambling compact, which remains far more conservative than the Senate's.

The Senate proposes an ambitious gambling bill that lawmakers estimate could bring in more than $1 billion each year for the state, helping to cover education costs.

But state economists earlier this week projected a much smaller number — more like $400 million, with the new money coming from giving the Seminole Tribe full casino gambling.

The state House has proposed a much smaller gambling expansion, which would produce at least $100 million in annual revenue for the state.

Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said the House's parimutuel proposal will be rolled out later this month. And he is optimistic the two chambers can come together — especially given the state economists' estimates about the Senate plan's potential revenues.

"I think this week was significant for the Senate, when those estimates came out," Galvano said. "I think we're moving in the right direction."

This afternoon, the House's insurance committee meets to consider legislation aimed at addressing the state's property insurance woes. The Senate version has stalled amid some lawmakers' concerns about raising rates, even gradually, during hard economic times. But lawmakers say they're determined to keep working toward a solution.

The legislation includes many provisions, the most significant for consumers being a so-called "glide path" that limits annual rate increases for Citizens policyholders to 10 percent a year.

Shannon Colavecchio can be reached at (850) 224-7263 or scolavecchio@sptimes.com.

Florida House will wrestle today with property insurance, gambling 04/03/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 13, 2009 2:41pm]

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