In politics, subtly doesn’t get much ink. When you skim through the pages of newspapers across the state, only a handful of elected officials get media coverage– most of the time, the headlines document some bombastic statement or a controversial policy position.
Nuance isn’t sexy.
While subtly might not get headlines, it can often represent the most effective means to produce positive results. While some legislators spend their time courting the press in an attempt to sway public opinion, others keep their heads down and concentrate on fighting for their constituent’s interests by learning policy and filing game-changing amendments.
One shining example of such leadership and consumer advocacy is Representative Peter Nehr (R-Palm Harbor).
I have had the pleasure of speaking with Representative Nehr, and it is clear who he represents in Tallahassee – and it certainly isn’t the special interests.
“First and foremost, I need to protect my constituents,” said Nehr when I asked about his goals for last legislative session.
“Take this terrible Citizens depopulation bill for example — of course Citizens needs to shrink, everyone knows that — but we can’t simply throw hard-working Floridians in a ditch.”
Thanks to consumer advocates like Nehr, the depopulation bill was eventually defeated on the floor after a few tight votes.
Of course, sometimes hard work just isn’t enough.
In 2011, Senate Bill 408 passed both chambers and was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott.
Notably, consumer advocates like Senator Mike Fasano, Representatives Rick Kriseman, and Frank Artiles fought the bill tooth and nail – alerting the public to what lay in store – a crucial role. Behind the scenes, folks like Representative Nehr filed amendments and tirelessly worked to get the worst provisions of the bill taken out as it seemed more and more inevitable that the bill would pass.
Without the hard work of these legislators, Florida policyholders would be in a much worse position than we are today – and that’s a scary thought.
“I wish we could have found a way to fix SB 408, but it was clear the bill was a freight train that couldn’t be stopped,” said Nehr on the passage of the bill. “It seemed like the stars aligned and something was going to pass – It was my job to convince my colleagues to scrap the worst parts of the bill wherever I could.”
On countless other consumer issues from PIP reform to the ad valorem tax issue, representative Nehr has been a tireless advocate for Florida consumers, working behind the scenes to make bad situations notably better for the state.
In a time of heightened polarization, we need advocates like Representative Peter Nehr. While he might not get as much recognition as many of the state’s well know consumer advocates, rest assured he is working just as hard on your behalf.