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Get the latest coverage of the 2024 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

Tampa lawmakers say transportation and insurance are legislative priorities

Woman speaking into a microphone during a legislative meeting
Florida House of Representatives
Representative Lindsay Cross, D-St. Petersburg, says homeowners insurance should be a focus during the legislative session.

Speaking to the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce, they say they will focus on the now-defunct Hillsborough transportation tax and homeowners insurance.

The 2024 Florida legislative session kicks off on Tuesday.

Friday, Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce members and area lawmakers hobnobbed before the 60 day of debate gets underway in Tallahassee.

Representative Lindsay Cross, D-St. Petersburg, has no doubt what is the most important issue facing the state legislature.

"Home insurance," she said emphatically.

Cross said it's time for the legislature to deal with the insurance that insurance companies get to cover financial losses.

"The reinsurance market is something that we have to tackle and no one has had the appetite to do that yet," Cross said.

State Senator Jay Collins, R-Tampa, also got a chance to speak one-on-one with Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce members. He was warning people to go slow on trying to correct the state's ailing property insurance market.

The phrase Collins used was "tactical patience."

"We did a lot of things with insurance reform last year, and tort reform, and then a little bit more in special session," Collins said. "The worst thing we can do right now is over engineer it before we have the analytics that show how we can fix things."

Collins said once legislators know more, and see if the changes already made have had the desired effect, the legislature can then move forward.

Representative Karen Gonzalez Pittman, R-Tampa, also mingled with chamber members.

She said she is in full support of one priority for local lawmakers — getting back the $570 million raised for a now-defunct Hillsborough County transportation tax.

"I mean, if you look at the problems and some of the legislative initiatives that they're talking about, it's concerned about transportation," said Pittman.

She said she is confident the money will come back to pay for local roads.

I started my journalism career delivering the Toledo Blade newspaper on my bike.