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Scott Vetoes Bills On Convenience Stores, Citizens Insurance

The Office of Governor Rick Scott

Gov. Rick Scott vetoed bills Tuesday that were intended to increase convenience-store security and to give policyholders more options as the state seeks to move them out of Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

Scott said one measure (HB 755) would force convenience stores to add "potentially costly security." The second bill (HB 1087), he said, "undermines progress" in shifting policies into the private insurance market from the state-backed Citizens.

Lawmakers approved both bills without opposition during this spring's regular legislative session.

Scott expressed concern in a letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner about the state adding "overbroad, state-mandated" regulations by requiring a variety of security measures at convenience stores.

"Mandating compliance with the security standards in the bill would place a significant new financial burden on these small businesses, which is unnecessary," Scott wrote. "I believe family owned small businesses, working with their landlords, can better decide the appropriate security infrastructure for their businesses."

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Charlie Stone, R-Ocala, would have required convenience stores to have security camera systems, drop safes for restricted access to cash receipts, policies to limit cash after 11 p.m. and height markers at the doors.

Any convenience store where a murder, robbery, sexual battery, or aggravated assault occurred would have been required to have two employees on the clock when open between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. The bill would also have required all employees at such locations to receive robbery-deterrence and safety training within 60 days of being hired.

In a separate letter to Detzner, Scott expressed concerns about a provision in the Citizens-backed bill (HB 1087) that would have allowed policyholders to choose to get no more than one "takeout" offer every six months.

"This provision is inherently unfair to Citizens policyholders in that it limits policyholders' private market options, which means they may miss an opportunity to move to a better property insurance alternative," Scott said in the letter.

Scott's second issue with the legislation, sponsored by Rep. Michael Bileca, R-Miami, was a provision that would have allowed policyholders to return to Citizens after being insured by private carriers.

"This perpetuates reliance on Citizens, which increases the potential for burdensome assessments on Florida families," Scott wrote.

The legislation also would have allowed consumers to retain eligibility for Citizens insurance through its clearinghouse if private insurers increase initial premiums by more than 10 percent within 36 months after policyholders are moved out of Citizens.

Work to reduce the size of Citizens has shrunk the number of policies from 1.5 million in 2012 to 591,883 policies as of April 30.

"We supported the bill in its final form and will continue to work with its sponsors and other stakeholders," Citizens spokesman Michael Peltier said in an email after veto.

The bill also sought to require that Citizens customers be told when one or more private insurers expressed interest in assuming their policies. Also, a policy couldn't have been removed from Citizens unless the policyholder received information that could be used to compare takeout offers.

The vetoes came as Scott signed 17 other bills into law, including a measure (HB 779) that will require tenants to receive 30 days notice before they can be evicted from a foreclosed homes and a bill (HB 239) that will impose a maximum fine of $10,000 or the amount of the purse, whichever is greater, if prohibited medications are found in a racing horse or greyhound.