Florida Democrats demand a Special Session on Insurance, says GOP doesn't want to be transparent by Mitch E. Perry

11/22/06

The urge to bring the Florida Legislature back to Tallahassee for a special session on Property Insurance has taken on new urgency. Or has it?

Last week Citizens, the state run insurer of last resort, submitted a request for an average statewide rate increase of 56 percent for wind policies beginning next March, to comply with laws passed by the legislature this spring. That’s in addition to the 27 percent increase already approved that will take effect on January 1st.

Earlier this week, state Democrats held a news conference to demand that Governor Jeb Bush make plans for a Special Session to discuss insurance – now.

Dan Gelber is the new House Minority leader (roll tape#1 o.q.�as soon as possible�)

But who would call a special session anyway? Governor-Elect Charlie Crist has said the call is not up to him, as he still has nearly 2 months to transition before taking office.

But Governor Jeb Busht is still undecided on whether or not to call such a special , as he told WMNF Earlier this week (roll tape#2 o.q.�Governor-elect Crist�)

Whether it’s next month, or not until next year, one Republican in the legislature is admitting that the bill passed last year was a turkey, and he wants to make amends.

New Port Richey State Senator Mike Fasano says he is preparing a bill that would repeal a provision in the just passed legislation that now requires Citizens to charge actuarial sound rates. The bill requires the insurer to account for the probably maximum loss in a 1-in-70-year storm.(roll tape#3 o.q. “to up to 600%�)

The Insurance bill that allows for Citizens to make such rate hikes was passed at the very end of the legislative session last year. It was immediately denounced by state Democrats as a sell-out to the insurance industry.

But there were Republicans who did not support it – like New Port Richey State Senator Mike Fasano (roll tape#4 o.q.�with citizens�)

Incoming House Minority Leader Dan Gelbar agrees with Fasano, but says his remedies are too modest (roll tape#5 o.q.�is crazy�)

Gelbar says that if and when legislators need to come to any sort of ‘consensus’, the special session is the venue to do it in (roll tape#6 o.q.�rate increases�)

One House member defending what the legislature did last spring is Lakeland Representative Dennis Ross, the former Chairman of the House Insurance Committee.

He was not available for comment today, but did tell the Tampa Tribune over the weekend that rebelling against higher rates is like saying, “oh my gosh, the shot’s going to hurt, so don’t take it….Ross went on to say, “The shot IS going to hurt. Take the Medicine.�

But that language infuriates fellow Republican Mike Fasano , who says such comments show Ross to be out of touch with his constituents. (roll tape#7 o.q.�and to happen�)

The St. Petersburg Times reported that Governor Bush met with State Senator Bill Posey on Tuesday about a possible special session on Insurance, but no answers have been forthcoming . Posey has been named by the State Senate’s office as the “point person’ regarding Insurance until permanent appointments are made, sometime next month.

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