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Legislature silent as Citizens Insurance pushes up rates; challengers stage protest

Property insurance reform was nowhere to be found among Gov. Rick Scott’s “legislative priorities” during this year’s lawmaking session in Tallahassee.

But even as Scott pushed publicly for lawmakers to pass bills on car insurance reform, job creation incentives and education funding, he was working behind the scenes on another significant project: A massive overhaul of Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

The goal? Shrink Citizens drastically without involving the Legislature, which historically has set policy guidelines for the state-run insurer.

“We have to have real solutions, and I, along with everybody else up here, we expect the Citizens board to find them,” Scott told then-Citizens president Scott Wallace during a meeting of the Florida Cabinet last November.

Wallace had told Scott and other members of the Cabinet that Citizens would need “guidance” from the Legislature in order to make major headwinds. Scott did not address the request, instead telling Wallace and the board to “solve the problem by June of next year before the next hurricane season.”

Wallace resigned a month later, and was replaced by Tom Grady, Scott’s neighbor and political ally.

Read more here

Bonus: From the 'Never-let-a-good-crisis-go-to-waste' department, four challengers for state office are staging a protest today over Citizens' rates outside the Miami office of board chairman, Carlos Lacasa.

With less than 24 hours to go before the primary elections, candidates Paul Crespo, R-Miami, Waldo Faura, D-Miami, Eugenio Perez, R-Miami, and Libby Perez, R-Miami, will lead a rally against rising insurance rates at 1:30 pm in Miami. 

The group has pointed out that three incumbents, Reps. Michael Bileca, Carlos Trujillo and Jose Felix Diaz, all Miami Republicans, voted for SB 408, an insurance bill that has led to higher rates for sinkhole coverage. Crespo is trying to unseat Trujillo and Eugenio Perez is trying to unseat Bileca in tomorrow's primary.