Friday, March 2, 2012

Week 8, 2012; action shifts to Senate; one week to go

It’s finally here! The last week of Florida’s 2012 legislative session. No insurance bill has yet to pass both the House and Senate.

Seventeen bills have been passed by the House and are ready for Senate floor action. Some will pass, some will fail. Which way they fall by Friday, March 9th (end of session) is anyone’s guess right now.

Below is an update on three highly-controversial insurance measures (including PIP), followed by a summary of the quiet ones.

Too hot to call. These measures could pass, in some form, or crash and burn due to their controversy.
  • PIP Reform.  During week 8, the House passed HB 119, the controversial new "Medical Care Coverage" (MCC), and sent it to the Senate with some last minute changes.

    The Senate is on a whole different track. After two contentious committee hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday of week 8, the Senate's narrower anti-fraud bill (SB 1860) was voted out of its final committee.
At one point, it looked like the committee might adopt a plan that more resembled the House version, but that plan died at the last minute on Wednesday. The next day, Senate President Mike Haridolopolos suggested that PIP might not pass during the regular session and instead go to a special session (FL Current).
During week 8, the Insurance Consumer Advocate released an updated report to the Legislature on PIP data.
For earlier versions of the House and Senate bills, see PIP renamed "MCC" in reform bill ready for full House following week 7, 2012 and PIP bill clears first Florida Senate hurdle in 2012.
  • Citizens depopulation - surplus lines. More controversial than it should be, this is a minor measure that would enable surplus lines (non-regulated) insurers to remove policies from Citizens Property Insurance Corp. in bulk (a "takeout"). HB 245 has passed the House and is in Senate messages, while SB 578 is ready for a Senate floor vote. 
For more on the controversy, see Fasano feted, but vows to fight surplus lines bill (FL Current) and Property insurance bills suffer setbacks in Senate (FL Current). A description of the measure is at Week 4 ("Citizens depopulation").
  • Expert witness reform. HB 243, passed by the House during week 7, would change the rule for admissibility of scientific expert witness testimony to the Daubert standard (from current Frye standard), thereby bringing Florida more in line with the tougher expert testimony requirements in federal courts. During week 8, the Senate changed its version to a "hybrid" combination of state and federal standards, when SB 378 was approved by its final Senate committee. These differences could kill the measure.
Well positioned – comparatively non-controversial. Fourteen other bills have passed the House and are in Senate messages. Even those still in Senate committees could pass if the full Senate takes up the House bill in messages.

During week 8, these two were passed by the House: 
  • Omnibus - Miscellaneous Insurance Matters. The House passed HB 1101, but not before making four more changes: (i) amended section 624.4625, Florida Statutes, related to corporations not for profit self-insurance funds; (ii) modified exemptions to the certificate of authority requirement for alien insurers that are also contained in HB 409 (which had passed the House during week 7) and SB 1844; (iii) amended section 627.6699, Florida Statutes, related to employee health care access act; and (iv) and eliminated the provision that would have allowed insurers to use a “Notice of Change in Policy Terms” to remove sinkhole coverage from a property insurance policy. For more, see Omnibus insurance bill matures in week 7, 2012
  • Insurance Agents and Adjusters. The House passed HB 725, intended to streamline regulation of agents and adjusters. The Senate version SB 938 was approved in its final Senate committee hearing.
For a summary of bills that had passed the House prior to week 8, see Week 7, 2012 report - House continues to take lead and Week 6, 2012 - nine insurance bills move in House.

This summary was prepared by Perry Cone and posted at

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