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17 posts from May 1, 2014

May 01, 2014

Legislators send measure to encourage flood insurance market to gov

Florida legislators sent a bill designed to encourage insurance companies to write flood insurance in the state to the governor Thursday, after removing several provisions that allowed homeowners to obtain limited policies.

The bill, HB 879/SB 572, allows insurers to write flood insurance to replace that offered by the National Flood Insurance Program and allows them to avoid rate regulation with the Office of Insurance Regulation for five years. Insurers must offer policies that track what is offerd by the NFIP by covering $250,000 or replacement cost, whichever is less.  

The Senate voted 30-3, after the House approved it  98-11. Provisions sought by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, had been removed by the House. His proposals would have allowed homeowners to obtain insurance that covered only the value of their mortgage, not the replacement costs of the home.

Opponents said that had the potential to give homeowners a false sense of protection for their losses while it protected the financial institutions holding the mortgage. Brandes said it offered the potential to give homeowners lower-cost options.

"Obviously, I would have preferred flexibility,'' Brandes said, but said he would settle for the higher standard this year. “Let’s get the program started. Let’s let insurers begin to write,” he said.

Rep. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach, said last week that the bill as not needed. It began as a response to Congress' failure to deal with potential major rate increases in the National Flood Insurance Program but when the federal government agreed to modify the controversial Biggert Water Act the bill was unnecessary.

Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, backed the measure. "We need this bill,'' he said. "It doesn’t solve everything. It doesn't fix the entire problem. But it's a good step in the right direction."

House sponsor Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, said the bill "gets the government off our back" and invites business into the state.

 

House passes school grades, middle school proposals

Responding to a flurry of complaints from parents last year, the Florida House voted Wednesday to simplify the school grading formula.

In a separate bill, the lower chamber approved changes to middle-school policies, and voted to strip the words "Common Core" from some sections of state law.

Read more here.

Lawmakers prepare for zombie apocalypse

ZombieSen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, isn’t taking any chances with needing a gun.

On SB 296, which would allow people to carry concealed weapons during an emergency, he’s proposed an amendment that would include zombie apocalypse.

You can never be too safe. Senators will take up the bill later today. They may try to kill the amendment, but it's guaranteed to come back to life.

 

Miami-Dade lawmakers bring home big dollars from Tallahassee

Miami-Dade lawmakers had a collective priority for the 60-day legislation session: to protect the funding for Jackson Health System.

They are close to declaring victory.

The $77.1 billion budget negotiated by the House and Senate this week shields Jackson from a potential $140 million hit for at least one year.

The budget also provides billions of state dollars for Miami-Dade schools, universities, parks, social services programs and economic development projects.

"We accomplished what we set out to do, and that’s get what Miami-Dade deserves," said Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, the Hialeah Republican who chairs the Miami-Dade Legislative Delegation.

Read the story here.

Q-Poll FL: Jeb rising, Rubio falling and Hillary dominating.

From a press release:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is way out in front over U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and other possible Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination in his home state, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

But despite President Barack Obama's underwater job approval rating, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads a list of Republicans by margins of 8 percentage points or higher, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.

Gov. Bush leads the Florida Republican primary with 27 percent, followed by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky with 14 percent, Sen. Rubio at 11 percent, New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie at 7 percent, with 6 percent each for Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan. No other candidate tops 4 percent and 16 percent are undecided.

More here

Today in Tallahassee: Five Things to Know

TALLAHASSEE With two days left in the session, House Speaker Will Weatherford has predicted it’s going to be a day of “hurry up and wait” as the final high-profile bills trickle through the House and Senate.

“We don’t have that many bills left in the last two days,’’ Weatherford told reporters Wednesday. “I think that’s a good thing.’’

However, the list of high-profile bills left unfinished remains long and any number of them could come up in either chamber. Here are five things to watch:

* A bill to tighten regulations on human trafficking (SB 1742) is taken up by the Florida Senate.

* A measure to legalize a limited strain of marijuana for medical purposes may come up in the House with Weatherford’s commitment that before session ends the bill, HB 783, “will come up and its’ going to get a great hearing in this chamber.’’

* Also awaiting House approval is SB 1666, reforming child welfare.

* The Senate’s Thursday calendar lists a bill, SB 742, to require greyhound tracks to report their injuries.

* Also awaiting Senate approval is: a bill to reform the state’s child welfare laws, another to expand the pool of students eligible for tax credit scholarships, and another to increase regulations on assisted living facilities.

 

Today in Tallahassee: Five Things to Know

TALLAHASSEE With two days left in the session, House Speaker Will Weatherford has predicted it’s going to be a day of “hurry up and wait” as the final high-profile bills trickle through the House and Senate.

“We don’t have that many bills left in the last two days,’’ Weatherford told reporters Wednesday. “I think that’s a good thing.’’

However, the list of high-profile bills left unfinished remains long and any number of them could come up in either chamber. Here are five things to watch:

* A bill to tighten regulations on human trafficking (SB 1742) is taken up by the Florida Senate.

* A measure to legalize a limited strain of marijuana for medical purposes may come up in the House with Weatherford’s commitment that before session ends the bill, HB 783, “will come up and its’ going to get a great hearing in this chamber.’’

* Also awaiting House approval is SB 1666, reforming child welfare.

* The Senate’s Thursday calendar lists a bill, SB 742, to require greyhound tracks to report their injuries.

* Also awaiting Senate approval is: a bill to reform the state’s child welfare laws, another to expand the pool of students eligible for tax credit scholarships, and another to increase regulations on assisted living facilities.