up to special interests
Article Courtesy of Sun Sentinel
Published December 25, 2006
month, Florida lawmakers will convene in Tallahassee for a special session
on spiraling insurance rates. Following the lawmakers to Tallahassee will be
an army of lobbyists for insurance, mortgage, construction and real estate
special interests. Our representatives must understand they are facing an
"FCAT test" of their own: Florida Can't Afford This.
Do Marco Rubio and the newly elected state Legislature "get it" on
insurance? With more than 50 calls per day from constituents, elected state
reps have recognized the severity of the crisis facing Floridians. They have
begun seeking input from all of us. For example, state Rep. Julio Robaina
and the Homestead/Florida City Chamber of Commerce held a public discussion
Nov.16 at Miami-Dade College.
Robaina began by describing some of the ideas Floridians have come up with
to battle soaring insurance increases. Everything from a strict statewide
building code to concrete roofs was discussed. We discussed old homes vs.
new; the imaginary line down South Dixie Highway and concrete block compared
to frame construction. These ideas and many more are compiled online at www.100ideas.org.
Unfortunately, we're focusing so much on the trees, we have lost sight of
I would like to remind our elected representatives that the roofs on our
homes have not weakened over the past year. Our houses have not moved closer
to the shoreline. We have not rebuilt houses of straw. On the contrary,
there are more new roofs, new shutters and more hurricane-proof windows
installed in Florida than ever before.
The only variables in this equation that have changed are the size of our
insurance bills and the record profits reported by insurance companies.
Even now, the insurance industry is planning its strategy for the special
session. Our elected officials must remember that their priority must remain
the day-to-day interests of ordinary Floridians.
They must keep firmly in mind the financial struggles faced by Florida's
teachers, policemen and firefighters. Our farmers and fishermen, waiters and
cooks, nurses and small businesses are struggling to make ends meet. Our
"citizen lawmakers" were elected to protect our ordinary
interests, not pander to special interests. The insurance industry does not
need a protector.
Next month, Florida's House and Senate will convene in Tallahassee. When
they do, Floridians are not going to accept that we need to spend more, live
in concrete bunkers or take on more risk to solve the problem. We don't want
to learn how we can work longer and harder to afford insurance. We don't
want to reduce coverage and still pay more than last year. And we don't want
to spend $10,000 on hurricane-proof windows just to receive a $100 credit.
Floridians want our representatives to stand up to the special interests and
demand lower rates and a cap on rate increases. If there are fewer insurance
industry millionaires, we can live with that.
The widely reported "drubbing" Republicans received in recent
midterm elections serves as a stark reminder that voters are unwilling to
elect representatives who bow to special interests. By the end of next
month, we'll all know which of our representatives passed the legislative
FCAT and exactly who failed.