Re: Why rush? Consider impacts on wetlands carefully | March 16 Dan DeWitt column.
Our water future
DeWitt's column is right on the money. State Rep. Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill, should be ashamed of himself, and residents of Hernando County should be deeply concerned that this is being done in their name. This is a bad bill for wetlands, a bad bill for Hernando County, and a bad bill for the Nature Coast. HB 147 is poor public policy and is written for the developers, not in the public interest. We expect more from our elected officials.
Wetlands are valuable and key to our region's economic and environmental health. Regulatory agencies are barely doing their job now with budget cuts, low staff levels and political pressure from the likes of Rep. Schenck. Let the folks who are supposed to protect public natural resources do their jobs.
Rep. Schenck should focus on protecting this region's water future, not selling it out to those who want their permits fast and cheap.
Nancy Murphy, Spring Lake
Re: Time to stand up against insurers | March 14 letter
It is ironic that on the day after the Florida Senate's Select Committee on Property Insurance Accountability presented its legislative recommendations to the Florida Legislature, the referenced letter stated that Florida's insurance problems are no longer in the headlines. I would beg to differ. Whether the issue is on the front page of every paper is of no consequence. The issue itself is still a crisis in Florida and remains my number-one priority and that of the Florida Senate.
When I was appointed by the Senate president to serve on the Select Committee, I did so with wholehearted enthusiasm knowing that immediate solutions to the problems that have plagued our state would be the result. Now that those ideas have been presented to the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, I would expect a hearing in the near future to consider the needed proposals put forth by the Select Committee and then bringing the proposal to the Senate floor for approval.
The proposals include giving the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation the authority to impose a daily fine on insurance companies that do not come in compliance with the Insurance Code and follow the law. Additionally, the proposal includes an increase in fines of up to $100,000 per day for insurance companies that engage in unfair methods of competition. Insurance companies must be held accountable and must follow the law.
Further, the Select Committee proposes the practice of "use-and-file" be permanently suspended. This practice basically allows an insurer to implement a rate increase and then file for permission to implement the new rate. Insurance companies should not be allowed to raise rates first and then ask for permission later.
Our proposal will include that arbitration be permanently banned as a means in which to settle a rate challenge. Arbitration panels, which are not accountable to anyone, have usurped regulators' ability in several cases to increase home-owner's insurance rates. This process bypasses state regulations. The sole responsibility for setting rates will once again rest with the Office of Insurance Regulation and the commissioner where it should be. Insurance companies will not have the ability to go around state regulators to increase rates that are unaffordable to the homeowner.
It is my hope that these, and other ideas such as my Senate Bill 400, which will prevent the practice of cherry-picking in Florida, will be heard in committee and eventually arrive at the floor of both the Senate and House for consideration by the full Legislature. We should not allow insurance companies to cherry-pick any longer in Florida.
Have no doubt, ratepayers, that the issue of insurance reform is alive and well in Tallahassee, even if some newspapers don't always place it on the front page.
senator, District 11
New Port Richey
Re: Get your checkbook ready for new plant | March 17 Andrew Skerritt column.
A better way: Bury the lines
Have you ever seen these power towers in the big cities like New York? No, because they would not fit in the tight confines of these areas. So, where are these high voltage lines that connect the generators and substations? Underground in a system called oil-o-static. The underground lines are in pipes with vegetable oil pumped through them to keep them cool and then have return lines to be cooled off, just like your air conditioners. They are much more reliable then overhead lines because they are not subject to lightning or hurricanes.
Progress Energy lines could be placed next to the existing tower lines in the dirt area, thus not requiring more right of way. The additional cost would be far outweighed by the reliability and the need to separate the new towers from the existing ones.
If you have ever been near the "high lines'' on a damp, foggy day, you can hear the static electricity flowing and sometimes even see it. They propose to place these new towers near residential homes, and this is not good. The oil-o-static system would be a better way. Yes, it would cost more, but it would be more reliable and safer.
Follow up on this before our Public Service Commission allows this to be foisted onto the public. There is a better way.
New Port Richey