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Give Florida homeowners choice on insurance

Give homeowners choice on insurance

This spring, more than 80 percent of Florida's state legislators voted for the "consumer choice" property insurance bill, which would give our constituents new, high-quality options for protecting their homes.

House Bill 1171 enjoyed strong bipartisan support and the long list of "yeas" included many Republicans and Democrats in both chambers. I was among those who voted yes and who is now urging Gov. Charlie Crist to allow this good bill to become law.

Why? There are two basic reasons.

This bill would allow consumers to choose for themselves whether they want to pay a market-based, actuarially sound rate to have their home covered by a large, well-known insurer which they know and trust will have enough money to pay their claim if a hurricane hits Florida this season.

Second, Florida simply must do more to attract large, well-capitalized private insurers — and their billions of dollars in claims-paying capital — back to our state. That's because our state-subsidized insurance system is essentially broke and may need a huge bailout from all Florida taxpayers if a big storm drains its cash.

Your June 1 editorial, This storm season, a few signs of hope, did not exactly give taxpayers the total accurate picture of House Bill 1171.

You claim that the bill would allow large insurers to "gouge" customers and "charge whatever they want." These statements simply aren't true.

Buying one of these consumer choice policies is entirely voluntary. If a consumer chooses to buy a consumer choice policy, it's because they want one. The policies can't be forced on anyone.

Large insurers won't be able to charge "whatever they want" for a consumer choice policy, as you claim. Rather, they will charge a rate that's regulated by the market, not by the state. If they hope to sell any of these policies, they will have to price them at a rate the consumer thinks is a good deal.

House Bill 1171 is about more choices for consumers and about reducing the unfunded hurricane risk our great state faces. Governor, please let Floridians choose for themselves and support House Bill 1171.

Janet Long, Democratic state House member, St. Petersburg.

Courts don't side with openness | June 1, letter

Bills will improve system

of state's courts and clerks

Pinellas County's Clerk of Circuit Courts Ken Burke's letter merits a response from the Florida Bar regarding two very important bills just passed by the Florida Legislature.

There is no effort now under way by the courts or the Bar to take over the duties or responsibilities of the clerks of the courts. SB 1718 and SB 2108 do not transfer any court-related functions of the clerks to the courts. Instead, what they do is make the budget for the clerks' court-related duties subject to legislative oversight. This will assure Florida's citizens that the nearly $1 billion in court filing fees and revenues handled by the courts and clerks will have greater accountability and transparency, and help keep our courts open and accessible to everyone.

In addition, this legislation goes beyond unifying budgeting for court duties by calling for studies of court operations to increase efficiencies as well as better use technology for such vital improvements as statewide uniform e-filing of court documents.

Gov. Charlie Crist has already signed SB 1718 into law, and he should also sign SB 2108. Together, these bills will accomplish better and fairer funding and financial management of the operations of Florida's court system and clerks.

Andrew B. Sasso and Murray B. Silverstein, Florida Bar Board of Governors, 6th Judicial Circuit members

Limit terms on high court

The nomination of someone to fill a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court once again brings up the serious question of why this position is for life. Because the Constitution says so? Life today is much longer than it was when the Constitution was written. The tenure of this office should be legally changed to a definite time limit.

People (including judges) change during their lifetime. What is a good choice today may not be a good choice 10 or 15 years from now. People (including judges) are human beings, and their physical and mental capabilities can and do change with age. Years can bring more wisdom, tolerance and understanding to some human beings. Others change into bitter, incompetent, opinionated personalities. Look around you and see how different most of us become with age.

I believe the law should be changed to define the tenure of the office of Supreme Court justice. A certain time — 10, 15, 20 years — can be set to determine if the candidate is worthy of this prestigious office. A provision could be included for reappointment when earned.

And we, the people of the United States, would not be "stuck" with having the future of our country in the hands of incompetents.

Betty M. Loring, St. Petersburg

Weigh all the facts before passing judgment June 3, letter

Our views don't count

The letter writer says that he is going to make an informed decision on the Sotomayor nomination to the Supreme Court.

So am I. But it doesn't make any difference how or what either of us decides. Our decisions are meaningless; they have no influence on the outcome whatsoever.

Nor is this true only for Supreme Court nominations. I can't speak for the letter writer, but no government decisionmaker has ever asked for my input on any issue before making his or her decision.

The letter writer's decision and mine may agree or disagree, but the ones who actually decide the issues don't even know we exist — let alone care about what we decide.

Mortimer Brown, Lutz

Water bills will rise to fix reservoir | June 5, story

Massive incompetence

Do the government officials who run Tampa Bay Water have any clue about operating a water company?

Reservoirs are not some new technology that needs the kinks worked out. Reservoirs existed in 3000 B.C. and the Romans became very proficient at building them.

This latest bungling by Tampa Bay Water should come as no surprise to anyone. We only have to look back to the desalination plant fiasco to see that this is just a continuation of the stupidity that exists at Tampa Bay Water. Desalination also was not some new technology. The tiny island of Aruba has successfully produced desalinated water for more than 75 years.

No one should hold their breath waiting for the "silver lining" of Tampa Bay Water recouping any money from the "experts" who built and designed this reservoir. Remember Tampa Bay Water paid more than $4 million to the bankrupt company that couldn't build the desalination plant.

How much longer can our region endure such massive incompetence regarding something so vital as water?

Robert T. Loos, Tarpon Springs

Water bills will rise to fix reservoir June 5, story

Dump Tampa Bay Water

Tampa Bay Water officials say they will be raising the rates for the region's 2 million water customers to help pay for repairs to the reservoir. Why should we pay for their incompetence? Just like with the desalination plant, the folks at Tampa Bay Water apparently don't have the ability to design and build a water project without major problems and cost overruns. They can blame anyone they want, but the bottom line is that Tampa Bay Water has failed the taxpayers of the region once again!

It's time to end the partnership that created Tampa Bay Water. Their existence hasn't solved our water problems, only made them worse! Maybe we should give the Southwest Florida Water Management District the authority to oversee our water supply.

Bob Minthorn, Gibsonton

Mounting costs

I am sure I am not the only one who is confused. It is hard enough to keep up with bills these days without extras, like the added costs on electric bills to pay for a nuclear plants, higher rates on water bills to pay for repairs on reservoirs, and extra fees on homeowners insurance to Citizens Property Insurance so it can pay customers in case there are claims. This is even if you are not insured by Citizens.

When is it going to stop?

Sandra Groover, St. Petersburg

Give Florida homeowners choice on insurance 06/07/09 [Last modified: Sunday, June 7, 2009 4:30am]
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