Citizens, Voting Districts, and…Drawing the Line!

CS/SB-1770  will have a salutary impact on the burden that Citizens places on households it does not insure; including many Floridians who can’t even afford a house. That makes it a good step in the right direction.

But, it arrived in two versions: one, the original Senate bill–far and away the best effort at reducing the Citizens burden I’ve seen in a long while, and; two, the House approach which the Senate had to accept before the clock ran out and which Property and Casualty-360 referred to as “watered down”.   

Vote-wise the “watered down” version received only one “nay” in the Senate; that from Dwight Bullard (D-39) whose district comprises much of Monroe county and the wetlands of Dade. It received five negative votes from Democrats in the house–Representative Darryl Rouson (district 70) voted “no” originally but changed his vote to “yes” after the final tally.

But…that’s the weaker version; the one that ultimately passed.  Sometimes, it’s more telling to look at how lawmakers voted on the version that did not pass.

It’s more telling because one expects lawmakers to favor their constituents.  Meaning, if a majority in their district were paying to subsidize those insured in Citizens, they would support reducing that subsidy by voting for the non-watered down original version of CS/SB-1770.

After all, it’s not like a budget bill where everyone gets taxed to help the state “meet its needs”. No matter how you slice CS/SB-1770 it existed to reduce the amount of money being taken from one group of people,  those not insured in Citizens, and being given to another group of people, those insured in Citizens. 

I figure that’s at least one reason why Senators like Leon County’s Bill Montford, a Democrat, voted for the stronger original version of CS/SB-1770 preferred by Republicans.  He knew only 2% of his constituent households were enjoying reduced rates via a hidden tax on the remaining 98%.  The fact that the bill was also more fiscally responsible for the entire state was icing on the cake.

Unfortunately, other Senators were either not so inclined as Senator Montford or, not as well informed.

I say this because of how Citizens households breakdown by voting district. Review my previous blog titled CITIZENS–An Amazing New Tool!  I urged that every piece of insurance legislation be evaluated using a new online program developed by Associated Industries of Florida (AIF).  

Shining this “guiding light”, as I called it, on the Senate votes cast on the original version of  CS/SB-1770 provides a different look at the inclinations of some policymakers.

Of the fifteen voting “no” only two have a majority of households insured in Citizens; Maria Sachs (D-34) is right on the line at 50% and Wilton Simpson, (R-18) just over it with 53% of his district households insured in Citizens. 

The rest voted against a majority of their constituent households–several bucking their own party to do so.

Of course, there are shades of grey here and, as with all political matters, not so easy to decide where to draw the line. But…I truly don’t understand how someone with less than one in four family units in Citizens can draw the line against the remaining 75%.   

You may disagree, but…to help you draw your own line here’s a ranking of the 15 Senators voting “no” on the original CS/SB-1770 based on the percentage of households subsidizing Citizens. Remember the higher the percentage, the higher the number of housing units that were harmed.    

1.      Greg Evers (R-2)–88% of his households subsidize Citizens   

2.      Dorothy Hukill (R-8)–85% of her households subsidize Citizens

3.      Arthenia Joyner (D-19)–79% of her households subsidize Citizens 

4.      Jeremy Ring (D-29)–78% of his households subsidize Citizens  

5.      Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (R-40)–75% of his households subsidize Citizens  

6.      John Legg (R-17)–75% of his households subsidize Citizens

7.      Rene’ Garcia (R-38)–74% of his households subsidize Citizens

8.      Eleanor Sobel (D-33)–68% of her households subsidize Citizens

9.      Jeff Clemens (D-27)–66% of his district households subsidize Citizens

10.  Chris Smith (D-3)–66% of his households subsidize Citizens  

11.  Anitere Flores (R-37)–64% of her households subsidize Citizens  

12.  Oscar Braynon (D-36)–63% of his district households subsidize Citizens

13.  Jeff Brandes (R-22)–62% of his district households subsidize Citizens    

14.  Maria Sachs (D-34)–50% of her households subsidize Citizens

15.  Wilton Simpson (R-18)–47% of his households subsidize Citizens  

Finally, despite the fact that it helped a substantial majority of consumers pay less of a tax to support largely wealthier coastal residents, most consumer groups also opposed the original version of CS/SB-1770.

None was more vocal than Policyholders of Florida lead by Sean Shaw who has announced to run for district 61 house seat, currently held by Representative Betty Reed, a Democrat leaving due to term limits. 

Shaw drew his line in opposition to the original version of CS/SB-1770 despite the fact that 81% of those in the district he is running for will pay more as a result.

Now that lawmakers (and those aspiring) have shown where they draw the line, the question becomes…

    …where will the line be drawn by voters come election time?    

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