Speedy approval seems likely for a proposal to use “windfall”sales tax dollars to bolster Florida's home insurer of last resortand fund home improvements against hurricanes, a leading stateinsurance trade representative said.

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Appropriations committees in both the House and Senate yesterdayrecommended setting aside hundreds of millions of dollars toprovide insurance rate relief to Florida homeowners by fundingCitizens Property Insurance Corp., the state residual homeownersmarket whose deficit must be made up by an assessment on statehomeowners.

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Sam Miller, executive director of the Florida Insurance Council,said the two competing measures could reach the House and Senatefloors as soon as next week, which is the next to last one in thesession.

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“It is very likely the legislature will cover a significant partof the [Citizens] deficit, if not all, with windfall tax dollars,”Mr. Miller said.

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Last Thursday, the Florida General Revenue Estimating Conferenceannounced that Florida will now receive another $960 million inunanticipated revenue over the $3.2 billion increase in revenueFlorida is projected to see this year and the next.

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Following revenue projections, House leaders recommended that$920 million be set aside to offset Citizens' assessments onFloridians, with an additional $500 million earmarked for grantsand no-interest loans to help Floridians strengthen their homesagainst hurricanes.

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Meanwhile, Senate leaders are proposing $750 million bededicated to offset insurance assessments, with another $50 millionallocated for mitigation.

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House leaders are also recommending that the FloridaComprehensive Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program be administeredby the Florida Department of Financial Services. In addition toproviding financial incentives for Floridians to mitigate theirhomes, the program would offer free home retrofit inspections tohomeowners.

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The proposals are contained in two bills, HB 7225 and SB1980.

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Tom Gallagher, Florida's chief financial officer, praised theproposals.

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“Citizens was not designed to handle 800,000 policies,” Mr.Gallagher said. “Helping Floridians strengthen their homes againstcatastrophes, moving people out of Citizens, or keeping them fromending up in the insurer of last resort are all wise investmentsfor our future.”

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