Greetings from unseasonably warm Florida, where citizens are beginning to petition Al Gore to host a global warming summit to hopefully attract a Nor’easter to cool us off a bit.
Late last week, Floridians saw the national business publication the Wall Street Journal chime in on an issue that is very Florida-specific. In its Feb. 17 editorial, the Journal lauded Florida Gov. Rick Scott—arguably the state’s first adult governor since Jeb Bush—for his leadership on property insurance reform. The Journal joined a chorus of lawmakers, consumer advocates, economists, and Heartland analysts in calling for swift reforms to the state’s broken property insurance system, specifically the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.
Reforming these two entities has been my professional priority the last three years, and it is refreshing to finally have a governor who understands the need for it. Unfortunately, politics all too often gets in the way of good policy. Some legislators—including some in the governor’s own party—have stood in the way of needed reforms and have, in some cases, unilaterally thwarted them.
The Journal editorial is making waves down here, as it is unusual for a publication with such a broad, national focus to be taking an interest in such a narrow issue. It would appear that editors in New York City care more about Florida’s economic future than many of its own lawmakers. But I digress.
On the political front, there seems to be quite an internal fight bubbling to the surface, and that is the Florida State Senate presidency for the 2015-2016 legislative term. Barring an unprecedented political shift, Republicans are widely expected to retain control of the State Senate after this year’s election cycle and the 2014 cycle, and it has been a long-held tradition in Florida that each party caucus chooses its leader well in advance of the legislative term.
The two currently vying for the presidency are current Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, and Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg. Though from the same party, Gardiner is largely supported by the more conservative members of the caucus, as well as business and industry interests, and Latvala is largely supported by more moderate elements of the party along with trial lawyers and unions. It is a classic conservative vs. liberal Republican fight, and this week it has garnered more media attention than past presidency contests.
Who wins will most likely be decided by primary Republican races across the state, pitting pro-Gardiner candidates against pro-Latvala candidates. Whoever has the most allies win in the August primary will likely win the Senate presidency. Never a dull moment in Florida.
Until next time!