Florida Keys Day
Caroline Horn, left, Florida Sen. Rodriguez and Mel Montagne

FIRM President Mel Montagne and Manager Caroline Horn attended Florida Keys Day in Tallahassee on January 24-25, 2024.
 
Since 2010 Florida Keys Day has been held in Tallahassee during the Florida legislative session. The day-long advocacy event provides an opportunity for representatives from Monroe County to meet lawmakers and staff who shape the policies that affect all organizations in the Florida Keys.
 
Upon arriving in Tallahassee on Tuesday, Montagne and Horn first met with Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez who represents District 40 which includes all of Monroe County.  FIRM collaborated with Sen. Rodriguez, Rep. Mooney and Monroe County’s legislative team on bills (SB604/HB565) addressing property insurance issues, namely the Citizens flood insurance requirement passed in SB 2 in 2022 and the coverage limit of $1M.
 
At a reception later in the day, Insurance Consumer Advocate Tasha Carter reaffirmed her support for those bills and for the efforts of FIRM and the three local chapters of Habitat for Humanity to address the specific challenges facing affordable housing projects. Last fall, FIRM hosted ICA Carter on a property site visit of several affordable housing projects in Monroe County to highlight the resilient building methods in The Keys.
 
On Wednesday the Monroe County visitors heard remarks from Florida Dept. of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Melanie Griffin, FDOT District Design Engineer Karina Fuentes, and a panel discussion with staff from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
 
At the invitation of Florida Keys Day attendees from the Village of Islamorada  including Council Member Elizabeth Jolin, Interim Village Manager Kimberly Matthews, and  the Village’s lobbyist, Montagne and Horn joined in a meeting with Insurance Commissioner Michael Yaworksky and Deputy Commissioner Virginia Christy.
 
The topics during the nearly hour-long discussion included the Monroe County Mitigation Form proposed by FIRM as well as the challenges that Citizens’ flood insurance requirement is causing residents of Monroe County, especially to affordable housing properties which are all elevated above base flood.  Montagne also voiced his concern about the provision in SB1716/HB1503 to allow surplus lines to be take-out companies for Citizens. Policyholders must be allowed to return to Citizens or Monroe County policyholders, having no other options other than Citizens, must be exempt.
 
As the session nears its close on March 8, it is clear that all property insurance topics will be included in one omnibus insurance bill (SB1716/HB1503). Some of our asks from the Rodriguez/Mooney bills are being incorporated into that bill, and we are watching those larger bills closely to ensure that Monroe County residents’ unique property insurance challenges are considered.

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