Monday, May 08, 2006

Legislative Issues Effecting Real Estate

Hurricane season starts June 1. Brace yourself -- not necessarily for storms but for higher premiums. House and Senate leadership negotiated for three days last week an insurance package intended to bail out Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and lure private insurers back to the state. The measure passed late Friday evening (SB 1980) will result in significantly higher premiums for Citizens policyholders -- probably double in most coastal areas. "If you're longing for a short-term, three-month rate drop, it may not happen. But I think long-term we've done something good," said House Speaker Allan Bense (R-Panama City). SB 1980 also makes it easier to raise rates and tap into the state's Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. And it provides $715 million in tax money to pay down Citizens' $1.7 billion deficit.

Faced with a dizzying array of portability bills, legislators bought themselves more time to work through the choices by appropriating $1 million to study the impact of portability on local governments' ability to raise revenue. The Legislature also approved a ballot referendum allowing owners of property taken by eminent domain to retain their Save Our Homes benefits.

Legislators OK'd two bills to limit the ability of local governments to condemn property for private economic development uses via statute and the state constitution.

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