In my last blog post, I discussed how the Florida House of Representatives were preparing to vote on House Bill 129 – or the “Citizens Sinkhole Repair Bill.” As predicted, a final vote took place on April 11, 2014. The result? The Citizens Sinkhole Repair Bill cleared the House by an 85-25 vote.
I previously noted that one of the most controversial aspects of the Citizens Sinkhole Repair Bill is the mandatory “Citizens Sinkhole Repair Program.” The proposed program would require policyholders to select from a list of Citizens-approved repair contractors if sinkhole activity is verified. Opponents of the bill view this requirement as an improper restraint on a policyholder’s choice regarding the repairs to their home. “What happened to believing in the ability of our citizens to exercise their liberties and find a contractor to repair their home utilizing the free market?” Rep. Amanda Hickman Murphy, D-New Port Richey, asked. “Competition drives down prices, assures better quality and ultimately protects our consumers. The ability to choose who repairs my home should rest with me and should not be limited by government.”
There are other, less controversial, aspects of the bill as well. For example, the bill would require Citizens to submit a biannual report on the number of sinkhole policies requested, issued and declined and the reasons for declining coverage. Residential policies issued by Citizens must also offer sinkhole deductibles equal to 2 percent, 5 percent, and 10 percent of the policy dwelling limits, with appropriate premium discounts offered with each deductible amount.
Though the Citizens Sinkhole Repair Bill may have obtained the approval of Florida’s House Members, the bill must still pass the Florida Senate and then make its way to Governor Scott before it becomes law. We will continue to keep you posted every step of the way.