In Tallahassee, nothing is for certain until it is signed by the Governor. Sometimes, even when a bill’s passage looks like a near certainty, something happens behind the scenes to put on the brakes.
Last week, that is exactly what happened to HB 245.
After quickly passing through the House, amidst extremely contentious debate and a fairly close vote of 66-48, the legislation that aimed to allow surplus lines carriers to take policies out of state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corporation appears to have run into a brick wall on the floor of the Senate. According to several Senators we spoke with last week, the chamber’s mood on this particular bill seems to have cooled.
The bill was scheduled for a vote — and subsequently postponed – every single day last week. Last Tuesday, Senate President Haridopolis explicitly stated that, win or lose, the bill would get an up or down vote that week. Guess what? It didn’t.
Only minutes ago the bill was again postponed, though there is a decent chance we may see it again before the day is done.
It is no mystery why this is happening.
Unlike the weeks immediately preceding the passage of Senate Bill 408 last year, property insurance seems to be getting a great deal of attention around the state. Across Florida editorials and hard hitting news pieces have shed light on the process, educating legislators and policyholders alike. Indeed, Floridians seem much more informed about the destructive effects of this industry-sponsored legislation than they were just last year.
Ocala Star-Banner: Bill would let unregulated insurers take on Citizens policy-holders
Tampa Tribune: More bad medicine from Tallahassee
Fox 13 Tampa Video: Who is looking out for policyholders?
Miami Herald: Gathering storm over insurance bill
Tampa Bay Times: Bad bills still lurking at Capitol
But, this tide, too, can change.
As I mentioned earlier, nothing in Tallahassee is done until the gavel comes down on Sine Die, the last day of legislative session. While these welcome positive developments may have made headlines this week, we do not know what next week will bring. The legislature has a lot of work to do before session ends on March 9th. Especially during an election year, many legislators will be working feverishly to curry favor with leadership — and to ensure their budget pork remains intact. We need to make sure that the pressure remains high and that your elected officials know you’re watching and you’re keeping score.