"Crist, unveiling his "must have" priorities for legislation in next week's property insurance special session,"
said one key feature is to let Citizens Property Insurance Co. offer full, competitively priced homeowners policies all over Florida - not just windstorm policies, and not just in high-risk coastal areas. ..."Crist sees Citizens as key player". See also "Crist: Make sure rates fall", "State must fix rate crisis, Crist says" and "Crist talks tough on home insurance, demands 'meaningful rate reductions'".
Crist listed a number of other items he wants to see in whatever bill the House and Senate come up with next week, including: requiring "broad-based and meaningful" rate cuts; phasing out the Florida-only "pup" companies that large insurers have set up; forcing insurers who write property policies in other states to write them in Florida or lose the ability to write other profitable lines, such as auto, in Florida; setting a uniform statewide building code; and improving state programs to help residents to harden their homes against storms.
Crist said he was pleased with the direction the House and Senate have taken in their bills so far.
"For years, Gov. Charlie Crist and Republican lawmakers have run for office calling for smaller government. But when Crist endorsed legislative proposals Thursday for fixing the state's property-insurance problems, he and other GOP leaders took a big-government approach." "Storm insurance proposal expands government role". Which makes you wonder, "Do House Republicans Like Their Own Plan?": "The Florida House may have decided to include some of Gov. Charlie Crist's signature initiatives in its insurance package, but some prominent members are openly questioning whether the ideas will work."
"The Powerless Have Now Become the Powerful"?
The Sarasota Herald Tribune gives us this extraordinary headline today:
Crist picks people over principles on rate issueWe like it when GOP "principles" are recognized as inconsistent with the interests of "people". The article:
The Republican devotion to the idea of smaller government as a cure-all suffered a grave blow Thursday at the hands of a Republican governor who said people are more important than principles."Crist picks people over principles on rate issue".
Gov. Charlie Crist, capping a 10-day rush to cement his campaign promise to be the "people's governor," heaped accolades on fellow Republicans in the Legislature who reversed plans to raise insurance rates and agreed to put the state deeper into the insurance business in an effort to reduce them.
"There truly is a new wind blowing," Crist said Thursday. "The powerless have now become the powerful."
Democrats praised Crist more rabidly than Republicans, crediting him for emasculating the insurance industry's claims that higher rates were needed to create a more competitive market.
Acting like a Dem seems to be paying off: "The Florida Chamber of Commerce released poll data Thursday showing Gov. Charlie Crist with a 68-percent approval rating and a 5-percent disapproval rating, with 27 percent undecided." "For Crist, glowing numbers".
That Was Fast
"A day after he removed a pair of Public Service Commissioners appointed by former Gov. Jeb Bush, Republican Charlie Crist on Thursday appointed two replacements that drew praise from the state's consumer advocate." "Crist replaces ousted PSC commissioners". See also "Crist Names Pair to PSC", "Crist names two new PSC choices" and "Crist names two to PSC".
The Jebbites ain't happy:
The unexpectedly bold maneuver has annoyed Bush backers, stunned Arriaga and Littlefield into silence, and left a former PSC chairman questioning the legality of the maneuver, because state law doesn't expressly give Crist the authority to pull a predecessor's PSC appointments in this manner."Crist drops two PSC nominees, adds replacements".
"The Florida Legislature will be in special session Jan. 16-22. This week, lawmakers held committee meetings in Tallahassee. The key events yesterday and what's coming up:" "2007 Capitol roundup".
Coulter Looking At Florida Felonies
"The three-page Palm Beach Police Department November report, and the accompanying one-page December letter to Anderson from Chief of Police, Michael S. Reiter, detailing Coulter's apparent felonies and misdemeanor, is available right here..." "New Coulter Voter Fraud Docs: Police Report Says TWO Third Degree Felonies, One Misdemeanor May Have Been Committed by GOP Darling".
Portability on Ballot?
"Lawmakers could put a property tax relief measure before voters as early as this fall, Senate Finance and Taxation Committee Chairman Mike Haridopolos said Thursday. ... Complaints about inequities have centered on the Save Our Homes Amendment that voters adopted in 1992. It limits property tax increases on homes occupied by their owners to 3 percent annually, but homeowners who move lose their accumulated benefits. Many, as a result, have felt locked in to their existing homes. A solution known as portability would let them take some or all of their Save Our Homes benefits with them when their move." "Senate leader: Property tax could go on ballot".
The Other Challengers
"Jennings, however, is one of four Florida Democrats contesting congressional elections. Unlike Jennings, the other three are taking on incumbents: John Russell versus Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (Dist. 5), Clint Curtis versus Rep. Tom Feeney (Dist. 24) and Frank Gonzalez versus Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (Dist. 21)." "Four Democrats Contest Wins".
"The Energetic, Young Congressman"
"Congressman Adam Putnam of Polk County was named [by Vanity Fair as] one of four 'Rising Republicans.' Democratic Reps. Kathy Castor of Tampa and Ron Klein of Delray Beach made the list of notable freshman. They got pictures too, but much smaller than Putnam, described as 'the energetic, young congressman.'" "Vanity Fair likes Polk's Putnam".
Nobody can accuse Putnam of being bi-partisan. The GOPers
most consistently opposed to the Democratic agenda would be Adam Putman, Tom Feeney, John Mica and Jeff Miller. A look at which [Florida] Republicans voted against the [first 100 hour] bills:"Floridians bucking the first 100 hours".
Minimum wage: Putnam, Mack, Mica, Feeney, Miller.
9/11: Crenshaw, Feeney, Weldon, Miller, Mica, Putnam.
Stem cells: Bilirakis; Buchanan; Crenshaw; Diaz-Balart, L; Diaz-Balart, M; Feeney; Keller; Mica; Miller; Putnam; Ros-Lehtinen; Stearns.
"Miami-Dade's teachers union will sue the school district over a merit pay plan that it claims is unconstitutional." "Teachers union hitches lawsuit to pay plan".
Alcee Gets "Security" Post
"Miramar Democrat Rep. Alcee Hastings was tapped as chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, better known as the Helsinki Commission. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who rebuffed Hastings' bid to become House Intelligence Committee chair, made the selection Thursday." "Hastings takes top post".
New FDP Executive Director
"The Florida Democratic Party named Leonard Joseph as its executive director Thursday." "State Democrats name new director". "Among other jobs, Joseph ran the party’s Orlando-based political operation in 2006 and served as regional political director for Kerry. Karen Thurman, chairwoman of the state party, said Joseph will be the party’s first Haitian-American executive director." "Democratic Party Hires Joseph".
"Thurman announced several other diverse hires:"
Ron Klein's 2006 campaign Field Director Julie Petrick has been named the FDP's South Florida Regional Coordinator; A former aide to State Rep. Frank Peterman, Shamika R. O. Baker, will serve as the FDP's Tampa Bay Regional Coordinator; Nate Jenkins will be Central Florida Regional Coordinator (Jenkins, a Duke grad, was trained in political organizing by Barack Obama's "Yes We Can" program for people of color); In Tallahassee, IT Director Phillip Perry (active in the GLBT Democratic caucus), will manage the FDP's new www.fladems.com, and the online fundraising apparatus."Democrats have a new executive director".
"Planners, policymakers and people whose livelihoods are tied to growth frequently cite the fact that an average of 1,000 people a day are still making Florida their new home."
That's the good news and the bad news. Good, because the state economy is driven by growth. Bad, because in the long run that kind of growth can't be sustained in a way that people will like."In fact, it's only part of the story. While 1,000 are new arrivals, about 400 are leaving."Why on earth would folks leave this paradise?
Rising property taxes and insurance costs don't help. Too many Floridians are struggling to make ends meet, and spikes in their tax bills and insurance premiums have put some in a state of financial crisis."Outward bound".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The mayor has a reelection fund of $400,000, unprecedented in the city's history, that is teeming with contributions from developers, lawyers and contractors who do business in West Palm Beach. It appears that the mayor is intent on ridding the city of all conflicts of interest that do not advance her reelection." "Frankel's selective ethics".
"Florida lawmakers should lower taxes on telephone, cable television and other telecommunications services because they are among the nation’s highest, industry officials said Thursday. The House Utilities and Telecommunications Committee held a workshop on the issue, but no legislation yet has been introduced. " "Industry makes pitch to cut Florida’s telecom tax".
More for Castor
From a Castor press release: "U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor today announced [yesterday] she was chosen by House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC) to serve on his Whip Team for the 110th Congress. In this leadership role, Rep. Castor will help Clyburn gather support for the Democratic agenda, legislation that meets the needs of the American people."
"A new Pentagon policy will mean shorter federal deployments for state National Guard and Reserve personnel, a move that pleased Florida Guard officials." "Florida Guard officials encouraged".
"Former U.S. Rep. Jim Davis has been hired by the Holland & Knight law firm to work in its legislative and regulatory practice. Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor, said he will work with clients on strategic planning and offer advice on federal issues, including regulatory compliance. He will work from Tampa but work with clients in Washington and across the country, the firm said in a release. Karl Koch, Davis’ former chief of staff and a veteran Democratic campaign operative, also is joining the firm. Davis is precluded from lobbying Congress for a year. Koch may lobby now. Former Gov. Bob Martinez joined Holland & Knight earlier this week." "Davis and former aide join Holland & Knight". See also "Holland & Knight hires former congressman".
"'The Christ Team'"
"During his campaign, one minister told a crowd of his peers that God came to him in a dream and said Crist would be the next governor. Now that he's taken office, the connection became even clearer." "For Crist's sake, get the 'h' out".
"The four loss modeling firms complied with a request from House Speaker Marco Rubio for data on their hurricane loss projections. The companies -- Risk Management Solutions of Newark, Calif., EQECAT of Oakland, Calif., Applied Research Associates of Raleigh, N.C., and AIR Worldwide of Boston -- provided information on their models and their underlying assumptions for review by the legislators who will begin work next week on measures to cut escalating insurance costs." "Insurance modeling firms comply with request, release data". See also "Hurricane Models Will Be Released".
More Florida Wingers to Romney
Romney announced that Mandy Fletcher and Marc Reichelderfer will join his exploratory presidential campaign committee."Romney Adds To Florida Organization".
Fletcher has been executive director of Bush issue advocacy organization, the Foundation for Florida’s Future; and was political director of the Bush-Cheney ‘04 campaign and a field coordinator for the Bush-Brogan ‘02 gubernatorial re-elect campaign.
Reichelderfer, a veteran party operative, was Florida field director for Lamar Alexander’s presidential campaign during Alexander’s all-out effort in the Florida party’s Presidency III presidential primary straw poll.
Profiles in Courage
"Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is setting investigating Internet crimes against children as his top priority, saying Thursday he wants a 10-fold increase in the people assigned to the problem." "McCollum aims at Internet crime". See also "Online sexual predators beware".
For more profiles in courage see this: "National Amber Alert day gets Crist's attention". And this: "State lawmakers to tackle expanding gang fears".
"Determined to fulfill a campaign promise to voters in South Florida and elsewhere, the Democratic-run U.S. House is poised to pass a bill today that would force Medicare to negotiate with drug-makers for lower prices on prescription drugs." "House set to seek way to reduce Medicare drug prices".
"Lawmakers said Thursday they want Florida's primary pushed up to January 2008 to increase the state's political influence, but they may face retribution from the national Republican and Democratic parties."
The proposal would move the primary to either a week after New Hampshire's contest, which is currently slated for Jan. 22, or to Feb. 5, whichever comes first."Legislators could push primary into January".
With a primary on Jan. 29, Florida would share the stage with South Carolina. On Feb. 5, the contest would take place with eight other states. With Florida's early voting, voters could cast their ballots in mid-January right around the Iowa caucus, the nation's first contest.
But the national Democratic and Republican parties have consistently opposed the idea to prevent a race between the states to have the earliest primary. And some have said Florida's size makes it impossible for underdog candidates to raise enough money to compete at such an early stage.
Hadi's Criminal Contempt Hearing Delayed
"A judge delayed criminal contempt proceedings Thursday against the former chief of the state Department of Children & Families, saying he wants to wait to see whether new money made available by the state starts to solve the problem of mentally ill inmates languishing in jails." "Former DCF chief's court case delayed".
He's Got A Point
"'Guess the only thing Florida didn’t score well in was ballot counting,' Leno said during his Tuesday night monologue." "Leno on voting in Florida".
"As expected, the [Sarasota] area’s three U.S. House members split along party lines on whether to expand stem cell research. U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, joined 157 other Republicans in voting against the legislation on Thursday. The area’s two Democrats, Kathy Castor and Tim Mahoney, both voted for the bill. The bill passed, 253 to 174." "Castor, Mahoney vote for stem cell bill; Buchanan no".
A Tampa Thing
"Lawmakers' Plans Would Cut Premiums".
Florida is in the process of "creating a new management plan for ensuring the species' longevity. Commission biologists say this will be far more effective than the old system, where an animal's classification brought certain protections but not a comprehensive recovery effort. If the commission's final plan does more to appease the boating industry than to help the manatee, then Save the Manatee's suspicions will be confirmed. But if the state comes up with a muscular plan that controls watercraft and protects manatee habitats, the long-term outlook for Florida's favorite marine mammal should remain bright." "A Bad Year For Florida Manatees".
A Different Perspective
For a different perspective on the insurance thing, here are the thoughts of Jeff Grady, president of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents: "Insurance reform: Choices and realities".