Florida is America’s last vestige of sanity.
Perhaps that’s somewhat exaggerated.
But clearly the Sunshine State is in the sweetest of sweet spots. Indeed, it was former British Prime Minister Tony Blair who said you can judge a place by "those that want in versus those that want out."
By that measure Florida is America’s No. 1 destination, even surpassing Texas.
Florida’s net population increases by almost 1,000 people per day, 365 days of the year.
Because Florida's taxes are low, our crime rate is lower, and our weather is almost always fabulous.
Now, let's talk about our nation's 27th state's secret sauce.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., will see his second term end in 2026. By that time, Florida will have had 28 consecutive years of Republican governors.
I’ve lived in South Florida for more than 30 years.
It’s a blessing.
That’s why this writer sometimes thinks about how to make it better; or, how to keep the good times rolling even longer.
As new Sunshine State residents drive in, the new builders break ground, and the new restaurants open, I start to think about what can go wrong.
Every building crane dotting the skylines signals much more traffic.
So does every announcement of a business moving in from another state.
Are there clouds on Florida's horizon?
This writer did a personal assessment of Florida’s current and possible future problems and came up with: homeowners insurance.
Homeowners insurance, with its outrageous cost and its sky-high deductibles, could certainly rain on our parade.
It effectively raises the price of every home and, in its current form, repels new prospective residents and forces long-time residents to move to less expensive communities.
But for my money, homeowners insurance has a special appeal.
Why? Because I have a solution. Here it is:
As far back as 2000, then Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., went all in on tort reform.
It was an heroic effort by a very popular governor, with only minimal results.
There are many pieces of the homeowners insurance pie.
Hurricanes are villain No. 1.
But frivolous lawsuits are villain No. 2. Florida represents less than 10% of our country’s homeowners insurance policies but almost 80% of our country’s homeowners insurance lawsuits.
How fast can you say jackpot justice?
It seems that too many older roofs have "accidents" and are replaced by the insurance company, not by the homeowner.
So, what to do?
DeSantis called the Florida legislature back into session last year just to tackle this issue. It may be too soon to conclude how successful that special session was, unless you look at this year’s policy prices.
Mine started at double the prior year. We negotiated it down somewhat, at a cost of higher deductibles formerly never known to mankind.
Around 2004, as the chairman of the Republican Party of Palm Beach County, I needed to catch up to one of our elected state legislators. He told me where to meet him. I showed up and what a shock.
There was a trail of Palm Beach County trial lawyers, being greeted by Republican Party legislative leaders who were relieving them of their entry checks: $1,000 each.
What was I seeing? A stream of Palm Beach County lawyers bringing checks to the Republican leadership. I was too naïve to get it.
The trial lawyers were buying influence from both sides of the aisle.
The Republican leadership was soliciting checks from the enemy, the trial lawyers. And then it all made sense. Enough Republican legislators would take campaign contributions to stop serious tort reform.
That was 20 years ago. My guess? Nothing changed.
This writer's proposal?
To enact serious tort reform and bring down the homeowners insurance rates: No trial lawyer money to Republicans. Nothing. Nada. Not one dime.
Easy for me to say. But how does one make that happen? Easy.
Just follow the Nancy Pelosi playbook.
When you want your legislators to be good team members, suggest the following.
- No access to donor lists
- No seats on power committees
- No seats on any committees
- No funding for local projects
You get the idea.
Those are the sticks.
On the carrot side, replace the lost campaign contributions.
No Republicans to stop serious tort reform.
Lower rates for all kinds of insurance.
Better living for all Floridians.
Let’s keep the sweet spot sweet.
Sid Dinerstein is a former chairman of the Palm Beach County Republican Party. Read More — Here.
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