Capitol to Courthouse Headliners: Wednesday, April 22

Apr 22, 2009

To view a complete story, click on a headline below:

President Obama Declares Major Disaster For Florida

The head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Tuesday announced that federal disaster aid has been made available for Florida to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, flooding, tornadoes, and straight-line winds beginning on March 26, 2009, and continuing.


Florida Bills to Clarify Regulation of Surplus Lines Insurance Advance

Florida’s surplus lines insurance brokers and carriers are encouraged that legislation to clarify the surplus lines industry’s regulatory status in the state has survived several committee hurdles and appears headed for a full vote this week in the House and next week in the Senate.


House votes to deregulate some Florida insurance

The House has voted to lift rate regulation from some property insurance policies as a move to attract bigger insurers to Florida.


Florida finds state allies in renewed push for federal hurricane insurance help

Officials from four states vulnerable to rising climatic trauma hope to finalize legislation this week that would vastly expand the federal government’s financial responsibility during hurricanes and earthquakes.


Crist warming up veto pen for insurance bill

Gov. Charlie Crist made a “V” sign with his fingers Monday as he sat in his office, reluctant to say the word “veto” but making his intentions clear just the same; one of his targets could be a provision that would limit the authority of the Office of Insurance Regulation to reject rate increases for property coverage.


FEMA nominee Fugate promises to improve agency response

President Barack Obama’s pick to head FEMA, Craig Fugate of Florida, told senators Wednesday that the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes would no longer be the benchmark for performance if he is confirmed to head the disaster agency.


OIR Approves $400 Million Citizens Line of Credit

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation approved a request from Citizen’s Property Insurance Corporation for a revolving line of credit of up to $400,000,000, to provide its personal and commercial lines accounts with needed liquidity in preparation for the 2009 hurricane season; Citizens said the line of credit will enable it to efficiently meet its financial obligations and is consistent with the provisions of the Citizens Act.


You can run red lights, but you can’t hide from cameras

Cameras that automatically take pictures of motorists running red lights soon could be installed at intersections all over Florida after the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday passed a red-light camera bill (SB 2004) similar to one that received House committee approval Monday (HB 439).


Florida Today: Don’t deregulate

Lawmakers should toss bill giving big insurers free hand to raise rates

Want to hear the latest dumb solution to Florida’s property insurance crisis? Let insurance behemoths like State Farm charge whatever rates they want.


Florida Association of Mortgage Brokers: Choices for property insurance consumers

For many years now, those of us living in Florida haven’t had many good choices when it comes to finding a property insurance company to cover our homes.


Florida’s MacNeill Group names Kevin Tromer president

In January 2009, Tromer succeeded Douglas W. Bullington who continues on in his current position of CEO of Focus Holdings LLC, MacNeill Group’s parent company


Florida Ranked Among Worst States in Disciplining Doctors

Most states, including California and Florida, are failing to adequately discipline doctors who are practicing substandard medicine, according to the latest annual ranking of state medical boards by the watchdog group Public Citizen.


Compensation claims against Broward Sheriff’s Office clear Senate hurdles

Compensation claims for the family of a slain Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy and for a paralyzed Broward man are now ready for votes by the full Senate.

A record-setting compensation claim for a paralyzed Broward man and a proposal to pay $1.8 million to the family of slain Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy Todd Fatta passed key Senate hurdles on Tuesday but face varying prospects in the waning days of the legislative session.


CFO Sink: Three arrested after preying on seniors in insurance fraud scheme

Arrests Underscore Need to Better Protect Florida’s Seniors from Financial Fraud

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink today announced the arrests of three individuals who allegedly solicited auto body work from elderly victims in parking lots to obtain personal information, then assumed the victims’ identities and filed fraudulent insurance claims totaling approximately $50,000.


State budget impasse continues

The budget impasse between House and Senate leaders showed little signs of letting up Tuesday after Senate leaders swiftly brushed off a public peace offer from House Speaker Larry Cretul.


    Budget talks continue — behind closed doors

    A grand jury report bashing the Legislature for secretiveness in the budget process hasn’t changed political business in the state Capitol.


    Bills take center stage in Florida Legislature

    As House and Senate leaders continue to grind away at the budget in secret meetings, their legislative colleagues will meet in session Wednesday to decide the fate of dozens of bills that depend on the outcome of the talks.


    Feds to Florida: Apply for economic-stimulus money already!

    The U.S. Department of Education says Florida can apply for its share of federal stimulus money now – and perhaps get approval within weeks or even days – though the agency has not yet finalized an application for the waiver the Sunshine State will need.


    Will Florida legislative session end on schedule? So far, it looks doubtful

    With nine days left in the 2009 legislative session, the House and Senate remain far apart on how to resolve their differences over taxing and spending.


    Plan to shut down Seminole card games passes Florida House

    Measure scales back Seminole compact signed by Gov. Charlie Crist in 2007

    Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood would have 90 days to shut down its blackjack tables and return to a slots-only casino, under legislation approved by the House on Tuesday.


    THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA: Crist to unveil gaming idea for solving budget logjam

    With budget talks stalled between the House and Senate, Gov. Charlie Crist is expected to unveil a plan Wednesday afternoon that will provide several hundred million dollars more this year from expanded gambling by the Seminole Tribe.


    Florida House panel OK’s oil drilling bill

    The House Policy Council votes 17-6, along party lines, for a bill that opens state waters to exploration. The Senate and governor keep an open mind about the bill.

    In a full-barreled appeal to the House Policy Council, the oil and gas industry persuaded lawmakers to vote, 17-6, along party lines Tuesday for a bill that opens state waters to exploration and taps into new revenues for the state’s ailing budget.


    Lawmakers hot on tax swap to support fire departments

    The Florida Legislature is moving forward with a tax-swap plan authorizing a penny sales tax to pay for local firefighter operations, with the revenue used to lower property-tax bills.


    Double-dip bill resurrected, passes key Florida Senate committee

    A bill designed to eliminate the most egregious abuses of a state pension system that allows officials to collect a salary and a pension was resurrected Tuesday by members of a Senate committee.


    2 bills offer relief to Big Tobacco when smokers sue

    Two bills would shield major tobacco companies from having to post hefty bonds as they face lawsuits from smokers.

    More than 8,000 sick smokers in Florida have sued the tobacco industry for misleading claims, but on Tuesday, two legislative committees pushed through bills that will cap how much the industry is required to set aside in the event it loses those cases.


    Ex-state Sen. Rod Smith, D-Alachua,  eyes political comeback in 2010

    It’s only a few months after the exhausting election ended, yet the 2010 races are in full swing.


    Bill would get rid of old buildings near Capitol

    The location is great and the price looks right but the timing is terrible, as the state tries to shed some inefficient old buildings near the Florida Capitol.


    AIG puts property & casualty business AIU Holdings into special purpose vehicle ahead of sale

    American International Group Inc. said Tuesday it is moving toward selling off a minority stake in property and casualty insurance business AIU Holdings.


    The influence game: Insurance industry sees financial overhaul as chance for long-sought rules

    Large insurers are lobbying Congress to free them from a web of state rules by adding a new federal insurance regulator and letting the companies choose which rules to obey.


    Controversy Continues Over Allstate CEO’s Article

     A New York inquiry into Allstate operations, provoked by statements in an article written by the firm’s chief executive, has sparked some fiery words of controversy.


    Consumer Watchdogs Want Insurers To Rein In Surge Costs

    Consumer watchdogs are urging a closer look at insurers’ estimation of post-catastrophe material and labor price increases, citing a study questioning demand surge figures used to set insurance rates.


    Severe Storm Season Like 2008 Could Occur Once Every 4 to 5 Years, RMS Predicts

    As the peak tornado season rapidly approaches in May, Risk Management Solutions (RMS), a provider of products and services for catastrophe risk management, has released a special report analyzing the impact of the 2008 U.S. severe convective storm season.


    To unsubscribe from this newsletter, please send an e-mail to