Insurance, Data Privacy Priorities for Area Lawmakers

Todays News

Image courtesy Visit Tallahassee.

The Florida Legislature convenes on Tuesday for its regular legislative session. Issues impacting commerce across Florida will be debated, and Sarasota-Bradenton area lawmakers will once again play a critical role on major issues.

Sen. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, last year sponsored a homeowners insurance overhaul, but didn’t get everything he wanted and which many industry leaders say needed to happen to get renewal rates on homeowners down. This year, the senator wants to look at further reforms.

“I’m going to take another pass at property insurance reform to give additional relief,” Boyd said. “Nothing to aggressive, but there are a couple measures that may help with the rate part of the process with homeowners.”

That includes changes to roofing policy requirements that didn’t make the bill signed into law in 2021. Boyd would like companies to be able to offer coverage only for the depreciated value of a roof. He’s willing to say in the event of a disaster like a hurricane, full replacement costs would still be covered.

He’s also working with Attorney General Ashley Moody on a retail theft bill that would boost punishments on theft.

Meanwhile, Rep. Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota, will also give another go at legislation that could not make it across the finish line last year. She plans to champion consumer data privacy protections. But last year, a bill that passed in the House died before the end of Session among growing concerns from business groups like the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Florida TaxWatch.

She’s willing to speak with stakeholders about issues, including concerns businesses that rely on email marketing have about restrictions on how they use consumer data themselves. But she’s only willing to go so far.

“The way to get businesses on board would be to really soften the enforcement,” she said, “but that’s something we are not interested in doing.”

McFarland also is working with Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, on changes to funding formulas for child service organizations. A number of Gulf Coast groups providing foster care service and other social services don’t receive the same funding as some dense cities, and McFarland wants to change that, but find an equitable solution. “The problem with right-sizing funding to get someone more on one side is that someone has to have less,” she said.

Both her and Gruters have favored a gradual glide scale to bring funding in line without delivering a shock to the system for other regions.

“I have no intention of hurting children in Miami just because I am helping children in Sarasota,” she said.

Image courtesy Visit Tallahassee.

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