TALLAHASSEE (March 10, 2012) – The Florida Legislature closed its 60-day 2012 session by approving needed reforms to the state’s no-fault auto insurance system and the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp., but lawmakers rejected an important education reform initiative and the urgent need to reform the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.
H.B. 119, which includes reforms to Florida’s personal injury protection auto insurance system, passed the House by a 80–34 vote and the Senate on a 22–17 vote. The bill limits the types of treatments covered by PIP, tackles fraud, and establishes rate reduction benchmarks that insurers will be expected to meet.
By a unanimous 38–0 vote, the Senate passed H.B. 1127, which limits Citizens’ ability to tax private insurance policies to make up for funding shortfalls. However, the chamber stripped language that would have instituted a program of reforms requested by the Florida Cat Fund’s own management to reduce the risks it takes on.
The Parent Empowerment in Education Act, S.B. 1718, would have authorized parents of students in underperforming schools to petition for a school turnaround option. The bill died in a 20–20 deadlock in the Senate.
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“Parent trigger legislation would have held public schools accountable and given parents control over their children’s education. It is unfortunate that lawmakers would throw parents under the bus to appease entrenched bureaucrats, unions, and special interests.”
“The Florida Legislature should be praised for their bold, much-needed reforms to the no-fault auto insurance system and Citizens; however, reform of the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund also should have been a top priority this session. The state has enjoyed a remarkable string of luck, with six successive seasons without a hurricane strike, but that luck could end any time.
“The Cat Fund is dangerously overexposed and undercapitalized, and the claims it would face in the wake of a major storm could threaten to bankrupt insurance companies, leave consumers without their claims paid, and devastate the state’s economy.”
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