Lobbyists face new requirements at Citizens
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CBS12) —
(THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA)- With Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis pointing to more “transparency,” lobbyists who represent clients at the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will have to comply with a new registration process.
Patronis, a state Cabinet member who helps oversees insurance issues, requested more lobbyist disclosure at Citizens. A lobbyist-registration website will be available Aug. 1, with lobbyists expected to comply with the policy starting Sept. 1, Citizens President Barry Gilway said.
“To us, this was not a major change, but I do agree with it completely,” Gilway told reporters Wednesday after discussing the change with Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet.
The Citizens Board of Governors will be asked June 20 to formally approve the new rules, which involve the corporation’s internal code of ethics. Also at the June 20 meeting in Maitland, a new insurance-rate proposal will be presented to the board.
Patronis, who is up for election this year, had urged Gilway on May 2 to implement lobbying rules similar to rules for state agencies and organizations such as water management districts.
Patronis on Wednesday supported Gilway for “implementing the newest layer of transparency to our government.”
Gilway said Citizens’ proposal is similar to existing rules for lobbying the executive branch of government but essentially doesn’t change operations for the state-backed insurer.
“I’ve been here almost six-years, we’ve never had, to the best of my knowledge, an issue raised by the OIA (Office of the Internal Auditor), or the OIG (Office of Inspector General), or OIR (the Office of Insurance Regulation) relative to lobbyist registration,” Gilway said.
All lobbyists currently registered with the executive branch will receive a letter advising them of the changes, Gilway said.
The rules would apply to anyone that wants to sway Citizens policy or contracting and who contacts Citizens staff or board members.
The rules will not apply to attorneys, agents, adjusters, or other people representing clients in insurance claims or judicial proceedings.
As of March 31, Citizens handled 440,351 policies.
The insurance industry hires dozens of lobbyists to try to sway the Legislature and executive branch on issues. In recent years, for example, the industry has lobbied to try to make changes related to an industry practice known as “assignment of benefits” --- an issue that has also involved Citizens.
Over the years, industry lobbyists have also been heavily involved in issues such as trying to shift more policies from Citizens to the private property-insurance market.