TAMPA (WFLA) – Since the Florida legislature convened in early March, lawmakers have been increasing costs to consumers while cutting them for businesses.
Legislators are now forcing internet sellers to collect taxes on consumers, they’re prepared to shift more roof repairs to homeowners, and they’re using federal funds to shore up funding for the broken unemployment system — whose website was down again on Thursday — all among several measures that raise costs on individuals while cutting them for businesses.
The latest measure that could hit Floridians’ wallets is SB 54, sponsored by State Sen. Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills), which could cause your auto insurance to go up.
The problem is, state senators, don’t exactly know whether the bill will increase or decrease insurance rates…because they passed the bill before finding out.
“No clue at all,” said State Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-Pinellas County), the only state senator to vote against the bill. “In fact, yesterday on the floor I quoted Nancy Pelosi’s line of ‘we have to pass the bill to figure out what’s in it.”
“In this case, we have to pass the bill to find out how much it costs,” Brandes said. “It shouldn’t be that way. This bill has been around for months.”
Car insurance is already expensive in Florida.
A recent Bankrate report ranked Florida as the second most expensive state for auto insurance with rates about 50% more than the national average.
Some industry experts say that’s because Florida doesn’t assign fault to a driver when there’s an accident, and drivers are only required to carry $10,000 of personal injury protection, an amount that hasn’t gone up in nearly 50 years. Those factors have led to a system that’s rife with fraud, said Brandes.
Another issue that remains only about 20 percent of Florida drivers are uninsured — and Brandes thinks this bill could make that number go up.
“That’s going to raise rates for other people,” said Brandes. “Ultimately, the people that really struggle in this thing are the people that can least afford auto insurance, which is already incredibly expensive in Florida, and may go up now.”
Watch 8 On Your Side’s weekly political show Battleground Florida with host Evan Donovan every Sunday morning at 9:30 right before Meet the Press.