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Thursday, Apr 19, 2018
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Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Fasano will be missed in the Legislature

Mike Fasano is now the tax collector for Pasco County.

C’mon, Mike, sure there is the money thing. You are going to make a bunch more than you did as a state representative. And heaven knows you are not going to find yourself locked up every spring in that Tallahassee looney bin pretending to get along with what from a distance looks to be a convention of used car salespeople who have to go to a back room to close a deal.

The truth is anyone can put on a black hood, carry an ax and become a tax collector.

Apparently, very few have the stuff it takes to not only survive in the Florida Legislature, but to stand up and make common sense when it is otherwise lacking everywhere else. The Republican from New Port Richey is one of the very few with the guts to go against his party when he believed they were wrong and to speak for the non-special interest groups when nobody else was willing.

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I hope you had the opportunity to read Tribune political chief William March’s story Tuesday. You can still find it on TBO.com. In it he points out a number of Fasano’s stands, including several against Gov. Rick Scott, who many think appointed Fasano to the new post just to get him out of his hair. OK, so hair may not be a good analogy, but you get the point.

Among those stands were Fasano’s efforts to keep insurance rates low and his attempts to stop a rewrite of the elections laws that would make it more difficult to vote. I’m sure Fasano will do the job in Pasco, but his missing voice in the Legislature will be a loss for all of us.

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Speaking of Tallahassee, which except for football season I’d rather not, there was a letter this week from Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater to Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty.

I’m not sure why the CFO bothered with a letter since most of us just send emails. Or he could have called the guy up and met him for lunch at the Golden Corral.

It could be that McCarty is just lying low after coming out of his chambers last week to suggest the cost of health care for Floridians was about to go through the roof.

Anyhow, Atwater wanted to know why rates for property insurance haven’t come down.

“The reports by reinsurance professionals and analytics firms that I have read this year suggest Florida insurance companies have seen significant decreases in their catastrophe reinsurance pricing. ... If insurance companies can justifiably raise rates on Florida families because the reinsurance market drives their costs up, they can certainly lower the costs for Florida families when reinsurance prices fall...” He goes on to say he believes everybody wants to help Florida families, yada yada yada.

Meanwhile at the Otto compound, our home insurance bill came rolling in. The increase was so much we are sequestering our plans for the rest of the year.

It’s going to take more than letters with nice letterheads between bureaucrats to do something about what is an insurance crisis out of control.

If you believe that is going to happen.

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