TALLAHASSEE — Senate President Wilton Simpson is backing a controversial proposal that might open native governments to extra lawsuits, whereas additionally suggesting lawmakers may revisit a vetoed effort to finish the state’s no-fault auto insurance coverage system.
Showing final week on the Florida Chamber of Commerce Insurance coverage Summit in Tampa, Simpson signaled assist for payments geared toward native governments, together with a invoice (SB 620) by Sen. Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine, that will permit sure companies to sue if native ordinances trigger at the least 15 p.c losses of income or income.
“What we want to verify of is that our native governments don’t destroy our enterprise,” stated Simpson, a Trilby Republican who’s operating for state agriculture commissioner in 2022.
Referring to native governments, Simpson pointed to Hutson’s efforts and “a number of others which are controversial … to them.”
“They need to take individuals’s rights and companies away from them. We’re not going to allow them to,” he stated Thursday.
Lawmakers lately have thought of — and sometimes handed — proposals to restrict the authority of county and metropolis governments. That has included blocking native governments from prohibiting gadgets reminiscent of single-use plastic straws, sunscreen, plastic luggage and Styrofoam containers. It has additionally included passing statewide legal guidelines about ride-hailing firms, weapons, gasoline stations and the placement of wi-fi know-how.
Hutson’s proposal would require companies to have been open for 3 years earlier than they might file lawsuits towards native governments primarily based on misplaced income or income. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-4 to again Hutson’s invoice final week.
The invoice drew assist from teams such because the Florida Chamber, Related Industries of Florida, the Florida Retail Federation and Individuals for Prosperity-Florida. Teams such because the Florida Affiliation of Counties, the Florida League of Cities, the Florida AFL-CIO and Sierra Membership Florida opposed the measure.
Lawmakers will begin their annual 60-day session on Jan. 11. Simpson advised Thursday that they might revisit a Senate proposal that will have blocked new authorities workers from enrolling within the conventional pension system and required them to enroll in a 401(okay)-style plan. The difficulty fizzled within the Home through the 2021 session.
Additionally, Simpson stated lawmakers may once more attempt to repeal the no-fault auto insurance coverage system. Lawmakers handed a repeal through the 2021 session, however Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed it in June.
Simpson stated, “there’s some alternative, I believe, to wash a few of that up from final 12 months,” earlier than noting “we’ll see if we’ve some companions this 12 months.”
A repeal would finish a decades-old requirement that motorists carry $10,000 in personal-injury safety, or PIP, protection to assist pay their medical prices after accidents. The invoice that DeSantis vetoed would have required motorists to hold bodily damage protection.
Supporters and opponents of the invoice provided conflicting arguments about whether or not the change would enhance or cut back insurance coverage charges for drivers and battled about a problem referred to as “dangerous religion” that may result in pricey lawsuits over how insurers deal with claims.
In vetoing the measure, DeSantis famous the no-fault system has flaws and state legislation involving dangerous religion litigation is “poor.” Nonetheless, DeSantis added that the proposal didn’t “adequately handle the present points dealing with Florida drivers and should have unintended penalties that will negatively affect each the market and shoppers.”
The Private Insurance coverage Federation of Florida, an insurance coverage business group that opposes the no-fault repeal, seems to be getting ready for a struggle over the difficulty through the 2022 session. It launched a listing of session priorities this week that included stopping a no-fault repeal.
“This laws is likely to be making a comeback, and PIFF strongly opposes the idea,” the group stated in a information launch about its priorities.
Simpson was eventually week’s Florida Chamber occasion to handle rising sea ranges and flooding of coastal communities. Lawmakers this 12 months accepted a pair of payments that created a Resilient Florida Grant Program and directed the Division of Environmental Safety to conduct a statewide flood danger evaluation.
“We all know what’s at stake, proper, and it’s the worth of the state of Florida,” Simpson stated.
— By Jim Turner