Floridians play a key role at insurance session
Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
Published January 18, 2007
TALLAHASSEEˇ Nowhere is
the property insurance crisis more acute than in South Florida. That's why
legislators from here are intensely involved in the emergency legislative
session. . Here's a brief look at 10 of them and their roles:
Sen. Steve Geller, D-Hallandale Beach: A veteran South Florida legislator
and one of the Legislature's specialists on insurance, Geller crafted the
proposed antidote to high premiums that's become the talk of Tallahassee.
His plan seeks to limit how much insurance carriers would have to pay in
claims after the most catastrophic of hurricanes. Critics warn of its
increased financial liability for all state taxpayers.
Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale: A lawyer and House majority whip,
Bogdanoff is the taskmaster pressuring rank-and-file Republicans into
approving easily agreed-upon solutions, especially policies that don't
dramatically violate her party's principles of limited government
involvement in the private sector
Rep. Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach: This third-term legislator is House
deputy majority leader -- the lead pitchman for House Republican
proposals. He has crafted billsurging Congress to pass federal tax breaks
and other measures to ease the costs of homeowner insurance. House Speaker
Marco Rubio, R-West Miami: Rubio has won accolades this week from House
Democrats. On Wednesday, under Rubio's leadership, the House passed six
bills that are supposed to cut insurance rates without getting the state
overly involved in the insurance business. After balking at a Senate idea
that he warned would shift too much risk onto state taxpayers, Rubio
enlisted the help of House Democrats to find an alternative.
Rep. Jack Seiler, D-Wilton Manors: A lawyer and legislative workhorse,
Seiler has made his way onto the House insurance bill-writing
teamsurrounded by Republicans. He is pushing for legislation specifying
precisely how much insurance relief homeowners can expect, and when. This
week, Seiler authored a major rewrite of the House plan to expand the
state's Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.
Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach: As House Democratic leader, Gelber, an
attorney and former federal prosecutor, is involved in all aspects of the
insurance relief package. He has already helped to persuade House
Republicans to revamp legislation to deliver immediate savings to the
public and not just help the insurance carriers.
Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami: This House Rules Committee chairman is Rubio's
closest adviser and has the job of making sure bills keep advancing
steadily in the fast-paced, short-lived special session. A bill he has
crafted seeks to make insurance policies more easily understandable, and
it seeks to clamp down on some controversial insurance industry strategies
that let private companies boost profits in Florida.
Rep. Ron Saunders, R-Key West: A former House Budget chairman, he has been
quietly involved in highly technical amendments to insurance law. One
revision he is seeking would stop insurers from charging higher prices
before the rates are approved by state regulators. Currently, rate hikes
can go into effect without state approval. If regulators reject them, the
companies send rebates to customers.
Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie: This ultra-powerful South
Florida legislator has turned most major details of insurance legislation
over to party subordinates. Simultaneously, he has helped hold partisan
warfare and traditional House-Senate frictions to a minimum. He has also
been punctilious about confining the Senate's work schedule to ordinary
daytime hours, which could push the special session into next week.
Sen. Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach: A banker and former Senate Banking
and Insurance Committee chairman, he lives in a mostly coastal district
where he sees the insurance crisis threatening home foreclosures. Though
he is not the main bill writer, he is advising top Senate Republicans.