Legislative Session Preview: With insurance reform done, Jim Boyd wants Florida fighting the opioid crisis
Retailers shower Jim Boyd with priase for his retail theft bill.

The Bradenton Republican also wants to address telehealth access and seagrass restoration.

Last year proved a busy one for Sen. Jim Boyd, who carried insurance reform legislation in two Special Sessions. As the 2023 Legislative Session begins, the insurance agent said it’s time to let the market work for a period.

“What passed in the last two years, and what was done last December, will reduce rates,” the Bradenton Republican argued. “That sadly is not going to happen overnight. Those reforms have to work through the rate-making process before all of us, including homeowners, will be able to enjoy the benefits of what we have done. But I believe strongly these reforms will create rate reductions.”

And while Boyd doesn’t expect any major reforms on homeowners’ insurance, he suspects looming issues with commercial insurance will need to be addressed soon. He knows the Legislature will discuss the reinsurance market this year.

“We feel pretty good about where we are in that arena, and some of the carriers are giving me good news, or at least not as bad as expected,” he said.

He hopes improvements to the climate will finally help attract more carriers back to Florida. He had conversations recently with a national carrier considering a return.

Without another homeowners insurance bill to file, Boyd will focus on other priorities. He has long focused energy on fighting the opioid epidemic, dating back to his time in the House and his Manatee County community suffering the highest number of overdoses and deaths in Florida.

Boyd said the way fentanyl finds its way into the U.S. has changed in recent years. It used to come straight from China to the states, sometimes arriving simply by U.S. postal service. Today, most of the drugs come through the Mexican border.

The Senator voiced anger that President Joe Biden’s administration hasn’t focused more on stopping trafficking into the country, and referenced controversial comments made by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre last year.

“When I hear the President’s spokesperson saying we don’t have it on our streets because we are intercepting it at the border, it makes my blood boil,” he said. “If someone thinks that they are either living in an alternate universe or just lying.”

Regardless, Boyd said the Legislature needs to address the presence of the drug in the country. The Senator had a Miami man reach out to him last year after his son ended up in the hospital after smoking fentanyl-laced marijuana at a party; two of his friends died from using the same supply.

“This is killing our kids and our students,” he said.

Boyd introduced a bill this year (SB 542) that will stock student residences and dorms at many Florida campuses with Narcan, an easily administered drug that can be administered during an overdose and often save victims’ lives. He wants that available to certain trained personnel to employ in emergencies.

He also has a variety of other bills on topics ranging from ensuring access to audio-only telehealth, carefully regulating dental telehealth and helping to restore seagrass on Florida’s coastline.

Boyd is relishing a chance to dig into some minutia, and boasts about a bill to ensure warranties on HVAC units can transfer during the sale of homes. “It’s a special nuance thing, but to me it’s very important,” he said.

But it’s not just Boyd’s own bills he cares about this year. He chairs the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, which this week will be the first to hear a controversial tort reform bill. He’s bracing for that extended battle during the first week of Session. The bill is one of Senate President Kathleen Passidomo’s legislative priorities, with Sen. Travis Hutson serving as the prime sponsor, and Boyd said he’s committed to helping it pass.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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