Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2022 Legislative Special Session:
The Last 24
The House passed the property insurance bill along party lines, finalizing it for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature. They also unanimously approved hurricane and toll relief bills. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Insurance: After the House vote, DeSantis will soon be asked to OK Republicans’ measure for limiting lawsuits, making Citizens Property Insurance less attractive to homeowners, setting up a $1 billion reinsurance fund and more.
Hurricanes: It took the Legislature less than 90 days since Hurricane Ian made landfall to pass hurricane aid.
And automobiles: Frequent commuters look set to earn 50% toll credit after a House vote.
Bailout: Democrats accused Republicans and Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier of backing the insurance industry over homeowners.
AHCA flock of flames: Another top administrator leaves the Agency for Health Care Administration.
Quote of the Day
“We don’t get to pick the moment we’re in. But this moment’s delivered three blows to all of our citizens — two terrible hurricanes, a property insurance market that has been teetering on the verge of collapse and runaway inflation.”
— House Speaker Paul Renner on the conclusion of the Special Session.
Bill Day’s Latest
Rep. Hillary Cassel may have only been a lawmaker for one month, but she is the designated point woman on property insurance for the half week. Cassel has practiced law for 16 years, first as a Broward County assistant state attorney, then as an attorney for insurance companies. For the last nine, 10 years, she has represented Floridians against their companies on property insurance claims.
Cassel sat down with Florida Politics after the House floor session to discuss her thoughts on the bill.
FP: When the Governor signs this bill, what is the world Floridians will be waking up in?
Cassel: Things will not change in their pocketbooks. Their premiums will stay where they’re at, if not continue to rise. But their rights have gone down. Their rights to hold big insurance companies accountable for changing estimates, dragging, delaying the process, wrongfully denying their claim, finding some exclusion in an 80-to-100-page policy — their rights have been extremely affected today and they will not receive any benefit anytime in the near future, if ever.
FP: Republican leadership has framed parts of the bill as boosting competition and that eventually leading to lower rates. Was that the right approach for the Legislature to take?
Cassel: There’s no guarantee our market expands. When we talk about being on a peninsula, we were compared today to 39 other states, ‘Well, this is how 39 other states do things.’ Well, 39 other states aren’t a peninsula. Thirty-nine other states don’t have their entire state with a coastline and the inland subject to hurricanes that are stronger, that are faster, that are creating more water related damages. So when we talk about what people are going to come into the marketplace, that’s speculation. Insurance is hard to find because people don’t really want to insure Florida, right?
FP: At the end of the news conference, you started talking about a scheme. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?
Cassel: I think there’s a reason why we’re not provided the data that’s been asked for. That data is complicated. It’s complicated to compile. There’s so many mechanisms that he has available to gather this data and to gather in a quick and efficient manner, and that hasn’t happened, right? … During the Special Session in May, they said, “Where’s the data?” “Well, I didn’t realize when you put in Senate Bill 76 January ‘22 that I was supposed to have it for you. I thought that’s when you wanted me to start collecting it.” Well, now when we ask where the data is, Senate Bill 76, said “Mr. Altmaier, Commissioner, please put this together,” where’s that data today for us to review, to look at? It’s still not available, and he says we won’t have it until March. … I think when you have an Insurance Commissioner who is praised by the industry for being ahead of a failing market, I think that needs to be looked at. When you have an Insurance Commissioner who’s appointed as the president of the National Insurance Commissioners when he’s in charge of a failing market, if I were in a business that was failing for seven years, I don’t think Forbes would put me on their cover. And I think there’s a reason that he is so revered across the country with insurance commissioners and with the insurance industry, because he does what they want.
Nine county school districts were warned last month that they may be out of compliance with the controversial “Parental Rights in Education” law, but on Wednesday the State Board of Education said it was satisfied that all were following the law.
Each of the flagged districts — Alachua, Broward, Brevard, Duval, Hillsborough, Indian River, Leon, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach — responded to the inquiry, state documents show. And each of those districts have lobbyists.
Here’s a rundown of who’s repping the districts in the executive branch:
— Alachua, Indian River and Leon schools all look to Jessica Janasiewicz of Rutledge Ecenia. She gets an assist with Leon County Schools from Corinne Mixon, also of Rutledge Ecenia.
— Broward County Schools have in-house advocate John Sullivan as well as Brian Ballard, Katherine San Pedro and Stephanie Zauder of Ballard Partners and Yolanda Cash Jackson, LaToya Sheals of Becker & Poliakoff, and Dean Cannon, Jessica Love and Kim McDougal of GrayRobinson.
— Brevard County Schools have a contract with Nick Iarossi, Scott Ross and Christopher Schoonover of Capital City Consulting.
— Duval County Schools rely on in-houser Kimberly Miller and contract lobbyists Marty Fiorentino, Davis Bean, Joe Mobley, Mark Pinto and Shannan Schuessler of The Fiorentino Group.
— Hillsborough County Schools are represented by Kim McDougal and Robert Stuart of GrayRobinson and Alan Suskey and RJ Myers of Shumaker Advisors Florida. They also have Kristin Davis and Monica Verra-Tirado in-house.
— Miami-Dade County Schools have an in-house team that includes Tabitha Gale Fazzino and Damian Jane. Their team of contract lobbyists consists of Michael Corcoran, Jacqueline Corcoran, Matt Blair, Will Rodriguez and Andrea Tovar of Corcoran Partners as well as Eduardo Gonzalez and William McRea of Sun City Strategies.
— Palm Beach County Schools employ Ron LaFace, Megan Fay and Maicel Green of Capital City Consulting.
The Next 24
— At 9 a.m., Senate President Kathleen Passidomo will host the office’s first Holiday Media Breakfast since the COVID-19 pandemic began.