Environmental groups urge Legislature to reform Citizens and catastrophe fund

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With the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially beginning tomorrow, Florida environmental groups sent a letter to members of the Florida Legislature urging them to reform Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. Lamenting the fact necessary changes were not made to the state-run entities this past session, the groups voiced concern over potential insurer insolvencies, hurricane tax assessments and the impact continued subsidized coastal development will have on the state.

“For years the Florida Wildlife Federation has been vocal about the Florida Legislature’s need to support reform of both Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund and end unnecessary state subsidies for high-risk coastal development,” said Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation. “Before the 2012 hurricane season officially began, two storms formed in the Atlantic and one made landfall in Florida. We are no longer storm-free and we cannot continue to rely on good luck to solve the issues with these state-run entities. Protecting Floridians, protecting Florida’s wildlife and protecting Florida’s coastal habitats are absolutely necessary. It’s time for our elected officials to realize the consequences of failing to address the situation and to support change that has been embraced by environmental, business, consumer and nonprofit groups as well as many individual Floridians.”

Charles Lee, Director of Advocacy, Audubon of Florida continued“The way Citizens Property Insurance is managed under Florida Law is an example of socialism at its worst.  Homeowners throughout inland Florida are subsidizing risky oceanfront development by paying higher rates. Should we have a major storm, everyone’s rates will skyrocket – even homeowners who suffer no damage. Florida needs to get out of the socialized insurance business and let the free market determine the cost of insuring high-risk properties. Government interference with the insurance market in Florida simply encourages the wrong kind of development in environmentally sensitive coastal locations – and we all pay for it.”

“Risky coastal development, which we are all underwriting through subsidized insurance and related programs, not only is a burden to taxpayers, but it promotes development in the very areas that are the most prone to storm damage,” said Charles G. Pattison, FAICP, President, 1000 Friends of Florida.  “No reasonable person can conclude that anything but a fundamental change is overdue, and that we are most fortunate that our luck has held out as long as it has.  Action now to reform the Citizens Property Insurance and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund programs is needed by the Legislature.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.