-- As Charlie Crist campaigned across the state last year, he vowed to get
tough on insurance companies.
Now, lawmakers look like they might help
carry out his pledge.
Now, lawmakers look like they might help carry out his pledge.
think the consequence of this (Senate) amendment is less insurance" of all types, said Stander, who lobbies for the industry in Tallahassee.
The debate about so-called cherry-picking came as lawmakers held the second day of a special legislative session to tackle the state's growing property-insurance problems.
The House and Senate passed wide-ranging bills Wednesday that will set the stage for negotiations on a final bill in the coming days. Lawmakers promised to reduce rates that have soared since eight hurricanes hit the state in 2004 and 2005.
Crist, who took office Jan. 2, has said cutting rates is his top priority. But throughout the campaign, he also railed against insurance companies, a theme he continued Wednesday in talking to a group of Miami residents at the Capitol.
"Things have changed in Tallahassee. The insurance companies used to tell us what to do," Crist said. "Now you (residents) tell us what to do. It's called democracy."
But State Farm lobbyist Mark Delegal told House members this week the state's property-insurance problems stem from hurricanes -- not insurance companies.
"I frankly don't think it's fair to villainize the insurance industry," Delegal said.
The cherry-picking proposal has been a key part of Christ's efforts to overhaul the insurance system.
House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-Coral Gables, said the House is largely deferring to Crist on cherry-picking and another proposal to place new regulations on subsidiaries of national insurance companies.
"Our new governor was elected on a platform, and that was part of his platform," Rubio said.
Though the House and Senate both backed Crist's anti-cherry-picking proposal Wednesday, they still need to work out differences in wording their bills.
Fasano said it is unclear how many companies could be affected by the idea.
But he said it could affect companies that might want to stop selling property insurance in Florida but continue selling auto coverage. Similarly, it could affect companies that want to enter Florida's auto-insurance market but don't want to sell property insurance.
Some lawmakers, however, said the main goal of the special session is to reduce property insurance rates. They said the cherry-picking proposal wouldn't help meet that goal.