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Tallahassee looks at insurance hikes, oil drilling, PSC appointees

Oil drilling. Insurance rate increases. Travel to Cuba. A power struggle between the governor and Senate.

Yup, it's Wednesday, when lawmakers cram as many bits of legislation into the calendar as possible so that they have an excuse to take off Friday and go home.

Today also starts the unofficial countdown for House and Senate budget leaders to kick-start talks on how to reconcile their different spending plans, which are billions apart. The chambers need to agree on the bottom-line sections of the budget so they can hold joint conferences and agree on a final plan.

"If we don't do it this week, it'll be hard to finish on time," said Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander. House budget chief David Rivera said all will work out. But nothing's happening now.

"It's like Waiting For Godot," Rivera said.

Rivera's proposal to crack down on travel to terrorist states (i.e., Cuba) gets a hearing in the Senate's Military Affairs and Domestic Security Committee.

In the House Select Policy Council on Strategic & Economic Planning, future House Speaker Dean Cannon will unveil legislation that eventually calls for oil drilling off Florida's shores.

The House General Government Policy Council will vote on a homeowners insurance bill that could allow for double-digit percentage rate increases. Insurers say they need the rate hikes to entice more insurers to enter the market and relieve the exposure of taxpayer-backed Citizens Property Insurance.

Gov. Charlie Crist has promised a veto. But legislators seem intent on passing the legislation anyway.

Also, the Senate's Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee is scheduled to decide whether to confirm David E. Klement and Ben A. Stevens as Public Service Commission members. The power companies, which help fuel the Legislature with campaign cash, aren't big fans of the two Crist appointees, who have shown a knack for scaling back rate increases.

Tallahassee looks at insurance hikes, oil drilling, PSC appointees 04/14/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 9:39am]
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