Senator Mike Fasano kills Senator J.D. Alexander’s bid to shrink Catastrophe Fund, passes Citizens Property Insurance assessment bill

Mar 9, 2012

The following article was published in The Florida Current on March 9, 2012:

Sen. Fasano kills Sen. Alexander’s bid to shrink Cat Fund, passes Citizens assessment bill

By Gray Rohrer

Senator Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, on Friday stripped off provisions from a bill that would have reduced the coverage of the state’s property reinsurance fund by $2 billion over two years.

During a previous committee stop, Sen. JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, tacked on the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund reduction language to SB 1346, which gives private property insurers more time to pay assessments to state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. after a large storm.

But Fasano was determined to delete the Cat Fund provisions, which also increase co-pays for property insurers from 10 percent to 20 percent. Some senators feared a premium increase for homeowners, and Alexander acknowledged that although there wouldn’t be an immediate effect, premiums could increase by 2 percent over three years as a result of the Cat Fund provisions.

The Fasano amendment passed 25-15, but Alexander wasn’t going away quietly. He blocked the bill, the House version of which already cleared that chamber, from coming up again on the last day of the legislative session. The Cat Fund provisions are needed because of a potential $3 billion shortfall if an enormous hurricane hits the state, he said.

“We can’t write the check today and we’re trying to adjust this a little bit so that we can write a future check. And quite frankly, if this amendment comes off, I don’t support the bill, and will do everything I can to see that the bill is not considered,” Alexander said.

Fasano bemoaned that approach, and noted that consumer advocacy groups and insurance companies alike supported the bill without the Cat Fund language.

“You have consumer groups in favor of it; you have insurance companies in favor of it; you have Realtors in favor of it. Now, with Sen. Alexander’s amendment, which will increase premiums on every property home owner in this state, you don’t any longer have those groups backing this good bill,” Fasano said.

After Fasano’s amendment was approved, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, postponed the underlying bill over the protests of the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Cross Creek. Senate President Mike Haridopolos, brought up the measure at 11:30 p.m. Friday night and passed it unanimously. It now heads to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature.

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