TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (April 23, 2015) – The R Street Institute praised the Florida Legislature today for its unanimous passage of H.B. 715, sponsored by Rep. Holly Raschein, R-Key Largo.

The bill clarifies a provision enacted in 2013 that protects taxpayers and Florida’s environment by restricting new policies Citizens Property Insurance Corp. can write in the state’s riskiest and most environmentally sensitive coastal areas.

The bill stipulates that any structure built within a federally designated coastal wetland or seaward of the Coastal Construction Line after July 1, 2015 is not eligible for coverage under Citizens. Existing structures are exempt from this prohibition, unless their total square footage is subsequently increased by more than 25 percent. Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, sponsored the companion bill in the Senate.

This concept, initially proposed by R Street in a January 2013 study titled “Coastal preservation through Citizens reform,” eliminates the government-subsidized incentive to develop areas most prone to wind and flooding, encourages smarter and more resilient development and prospectively reduces the amount of risk carried by Citizens, which will reduce the likelihood or severity of post-hurricane taxes to cover the state-run insurer’s future losses.

“Government should not provide incentives for development along the state’s riskiest, most environmentally sensitive areas by providing subsidized property insurance coverage to new beachfront condos and vacation homes,” said R Street Florida Director Christian Camara. “We salute Rep. Raschein and Sen. Benacquisto for shepherding this good bill through the process, and encourage Gov. Rick Scott to sign it into law.”

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