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Economic Affairs Committee hears 30 bills, passing most of them

The House Committee on Economic Affairs had a packed agenda Wednesday morning, hearing some 30 bills, many of which were on their last stop before heading for a full House vote.

Property tax exemptions were handed down, regulations were repealed, Citizens’ insurance reform was approved, and a bill to reform the foreclosure system received some lengthy debate. 

Here are some highlights: 

--HB 1127 on property insurance reform passed easily. It would change the way Citizens Property Insurance pays for damages after a claim, reducing regular assessments and shifting the collection to emergency assessment. It heads next to the House  floor for a vote.

--HB 213, known as “The Fair Foreclosure Act” sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, passed after lengthy debate. The bill would make it easier for some lenders and lienholders to foreclose on homes in a shorter time period. It would also protect some homeowners from deficiency judgments by shortening the statute of limitations from five years to two. Lawmakers questioned the bill's language, with Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach, calling it “nebulous” and wondering how a provision to speed up foreclosures on  properties that appear to be abandoned would be enforced. The bill has one more stop in the Judiciary Committee, before heading for a full vote.

--HB 4169, which would repeal a law that caps the amount of excess profits insurance companies are allowed to keep, passed after some debate. Insurance companies have refunded more than $200 million to business owners in “excess profits” from workers compensation insurance over the last decade. Insurance companies would no longer have to refund excess profits under the bill, which heads for a full House vote next. 

--HJR 55, sponsored by Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, R-Miami, which would allow some senior citizens to get an additional homestead exemption, passed its third House committee unanimously. The proposed constitutional amendment heads next to the House for a full vote.

--HJR 93, which would provide an additional property tax exemption for the spouse of a military veteran or first responder killed in the line of duty, passed the committee.  The joint resolution, sponsored by Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa, heads to the House for a full vote on whether to put the constitutional amendment on the ballot.