Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
Published March 30, 2007
– A Republican-sponsored bill that critics say would harm small
businesses and condominium residents faltered Thursday after it came under
attack from Democrats as a giveaway to the insurance industry.
House Republican leaders pulled the bill from a final vote when it became
apparent the measure lacked the necessary support to pass.
Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale, the House Republican whip, had
pressed colleagues during private talks on the House floor to approve
House Bill 7077, arguing that it was needed to help insurance companies.
"It won't hurt business, it will help business," Bogdanoff said.
"If [commercial insurance carriers] go belly up, we will have
businesses without any insurance."
Democrats, however, said the bill would gut major pro-consumer provisions
of an insurance law that Gov. Charlie Crist signed only last month.
The bill would end a requirement that insurers of businesses get approval
from state regulators before putting into effect rate increases -- even in
cases when the rate hikes double or triple the cost of coverage.
Democrats complained the bill also eliminated a requirement that business
owners and condo associations be paid for any storm damage claims within
90 days of notifying their insurer. Going more than 90 days for a claim to
be paid, said Rep. Joe Gibbons, D-Hallandale Beach, "could help put
small businesses out of business."
Rep. Jack Seiler, D-Wilton Manors, credited first-year House Democrats for
exposing the bill's deficiencies. But Rep. Ron Reagan, a Bradenton
Republican who sponsored the changes, said he hopes to get the bill
restarted later in the session.
"I need to spend more time with my members to get them properly
educated," Reagan said.