Florida legislators advocate less government intrusion

Oct 13, 2011

The following article was published in the Gainesville Sun on October 13, 2011:

Florida legislators advocate less government intrusion

By Anthony Clark

Three Republican state legislators advocated less regulation and taxes on businesses and less government in people’s lives in response to concerns from local insurance and financial advisers Thursday.

State Sen. Steve Oelrich, pictured, fielded questions at the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisers’ legislative day at the Gainesville Country Club Oct. 13.

 State Sen. Steve Oelrich of Cross Creek and Reps. Keith Perry of Gainesville and Charles Van Zant of Keystone Heights fielded questions during the Gainesville chapter of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisers’ legislative day at the Gainesville Country Club.

Chapter member Perry McGriff, formerly of State Farm and himself a former state legislator, asked the lawmakers how they would solve what he called an insurance crisis, saying the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp.’s lack of funding puts the state at risk of going broke when a large hurricane strikes.

Van Zant said Citizens should be phased out and replaced by having large carriers write policies in Florida.

“Citizens Insurance is an underfunded fraud,” he said.

“My thing is just let the marketplace work,” Oelrich said. “If you get a 50 percent increase, shop around. But if you can’t, you can’t. You just have to pay that.”

Citizens authorized rate increases Wednesday averaging 6 percent for standard coverage and 33 percent on sinkhole policies after state regulators reduced what the agency originally sought.

Oelrich said he’s also in favor of revamping personal injury protection in state auto policies or better enforcing against fraud.

Asked how they would stimulate the economy, Perry focused on growth management reform such as removing redundant regulations. He cited Gainesville’s efforts to streamline permitting for certain industries in Innovation Square.

“Why can’t we do that for other areas in our community?” he asked.

Van Zant advocated an up-front tax rebate for businesses on new jobs and materials purchases.

After Robert Walker of Modern Woodmen of America decried the lack of financial literacy among adults, Oelrich said that was evident in the Occupy Wall Street protests across the country, “where people have gathered together to talk about how unfair it is that they have to pay off their college loan, how unfair it is that they have money outstanding that they owe to people and that should be forgiven.”

Oelrich said government entitlements such as free and reduced meals in schools are to blame for people not taking responsibility for their own finances, “and if we don’t break this cycle in the next election period, it’s just a matter of time before our country goes down the tubes.”

Martha Kern of New York Life said insurance and retirement plans that people rely on for financial security have enjoyed favorable federal tax treatment, but recent proposals in Washington would reduce that favored status.

Van Zant said he is opposed to taxing those products.

“Americans untaxed do what Americans do best, and that’s thrive,” he said.

Find this article here:  http://www.gainesville.com/article/20111013/ARTICLES/111019750/1002/news01?p=all&tc=pgall