House passes amended flood insurance bill

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On the heels of the recent crisis over skyrocketing flood insurance rates, the Florida House approved a bill on Monday creating a marketplace for private insurers to write flood-insurance coverage statewide. SB 542 was approved in the House 98-11.

Changes made by the House means the bill will have to return to the Senate for re-approval.

After tens of thousands of Floridians were threatened with massive rate increases in the federal National Flood Insurance Program, state lawmakers began looking for a way to expand private coverage for flood insurance.

Even though Congress addressed several of those concerns, state lawmakers continued to work on the issue.

Rep. Ed Hooper, sponsor of the House bill, questioned the ability for Congress to take care of flood-insurance, saying the state proposal “gets the government off our back.”

Rep. Dwight Dudley added, “We need this bill. It doesn’t solve everything. It doesn’t fix the entire problem. But it’s a good step in the right direction.”

Speaking in opposition, Democratic Rep. Kevin Rader, an insurance agent, told the House that Floridians should buy federally backed coverage. “We don’t need this bill to move forward,” he said.

The revised bill sets additional guidelines for flood-insurance policies, including coverage requirements and adjustment schedules for losses due to floods.

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.