State Politics

Property insurance measure approved

TALLAHASSEE — After years of fighting insurance companies, Florida lawmakers are now leaning toward helping some out.

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee voted 7-3 Wednesday — after some animated debate — for a bill (SB 2044) that would allow insurers to initially retain up to half of the amount of a claim, forcing policyowners to prove the money was used to cover their loss before receiving the full amount.

Companies are now required to pay full replacement costs without proof of repairs.

The measure is mostly supported by the insurance industry and also Florida regulators. Both agree the bill balances consumer protections with needs to improve the overall stability of all companies doing business in the state.

Florida chambers differ on state budget plans

TALLAHASSEE — Senate President Jeff Atwater has proposed spending a bit less for public schools, health care and criminal and civil justice than House Speaker Larry Cretul.

Atwater on Wednesday issued allocations that will serve as a framework for the Senate’s version of the state budget.

They included only general revenue, which accounts for about a third of the budget, while Cretul’s allocation last week included some other funds.

The House planned $136 million more general revenue for public schools, $316 million more for health care and $147 million more than the Senate for criminal and civil justice.

The Senate allocated $321 million more for higher education.

Canady to be Florida’s next chief justice

TALLAHASSEE — Justice Charles Canady will be the Florida Supreme Court’s next chief justice.

Canady’s six colleagues Wednesday unanimously elected him to succeed Chief Justice Peggy Quince on July 1. He will serve a two-year term.

The justices stuck to their tradition of electing the justice with the most seniority who hasn’t yet held the job. Quince will remain on the court with two other former chief justices.

Gov. Charlie Crist appointed Canady, a former Republican congressman and state legislator, in August 2008. He’s the first of four Crist appointees.

Canady and another Crist appointee, Justice Ricky Polston, are the court’s most conservative members, often dissenting together.

— Herald wire services