Sessions ’11 & ’12–Like Night and Day

I was reminded of the difference between last year’s legislative accomplishments and what’s likely to be accomplished in 2012 when OIR recently published its summary of the 2011 insurance bills.  You may want to check it out,  as it not only covers “all” insurance bills, property and otherwise but, also contains a brief explanation from Kevin McCarty on why his office endorsed SB-408.

After voters effectively tossed Charlie Crist from public life, (done after he vetoed HB-2044, which like SB-408 Commissioner McCarty had also endorsed) it became clear the industry, the business community and the OIR, were individually poised for an all out effort to pass another “absolutely-must-pass” bill in 2011.  Questions of political feasibility dissolved as Rick Scott slid into the Governor’s mansion while condemning a “handful” of trial attorneys for holding Florida’s economy hostage.

At stake, of course, is the efficacy of last year’s reforms. SB-408 made some very helpful changes but, potential impact is bankrupted with the absence (almost) of meaningful Citizens reform–leaving Florida’s “residual” market the store front with the lowest price, better coverage and the state’s only guarantee of claim payment. The question is…”Will Governor Scott’s second legislative session provide an opportunity to finish what his first session only started?” I think not.

Leadership, last year’s bill sponsors and even industry lobbyists have had it up-to-here with property reform. Sure, amendments to lesser bills is always a possibility but, don’t expect major packages like the last two sessions. Reasons vary; there’s PIP to worry about (still), there are legal challenges to previous legislation that might be “required”, and…there’s much more than the usual politics-as-usual.

2012 is an election year, after all, which not only spawns more than the usual demagoguery of anything that sounds like insurance, but will be complicated by the re-drawing of district lines; contentious even under the best of circumstances. Redistricting also challenges the calendar requiring an earlier start, which means less time to prepare for “must pass” legislation, or; at least it’s a great excuse.

It also allows lawmakers more time for various legal reviews required prior to primary voting and consequently more time to campaign in newly drawn districts; time they don’t wish to spend defending controversial insurance votes in forums with opponents, many of whom will be non-incumbents with “clean” voting records.

Redrawing Florida’s voter districts, state and congressional, happens every ten years concomitant with tabulation of US Census data and in compliance with the US Constitution. It, by definition, aligns voting districts with new demographics and in so doing upsets state legislative scheduling.

So, the 2012 session will conclude early and everything else (including the political stakes)  moves up commensurately, as follows:

  • Week of September 19, 2011 – committee meetings commence (usually lasts six weeks)
  • January 10, 2012 – Regular Session convenes
  • March 9, 2012  – 60th day – last day of Regular Session (unless extended, which isn’t likely)

If you’d like to know more about redistricting, you can check either the Senate or the House websites, as follows:

For calendars on other legislative events as they are published, go to:

For more on 2012 politics and insurance legislation…stay tuned but, don’t expect anything like 2011…they’ll be as different as night and day.






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