Consumer eViews
FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER ALEX SINK'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

Volume 4, Number 45, November 9, 2007

Fellow Floridian:

This week, CFO Sink traveled to the United Kingdom as a guest of the British government at the invitation of Consul General Keith Allan of Miami. Both England and Scotland are world leaders in studying and preparing for the risks and opportunities presented by climate change.

 “In a relatively short amount of time there has been tremendous progress in Florida, which is showing the world that action to tackle climate change is happening in the United States,” said Consul General Allan.

While overseas, CFO Sink also met with reinsurance executives to discuss her plan to reform Florida’s Hurricane Catastrophe Fund and expand the role of private reinsurance in Florida. Additionally, CFO Sink met with economic organizations in England and Scotland and the London office of Enterprise Florida to explore trade and investment opportunities between Florida and the United Kingdom.

You can see pictures from CFO Sink’s trip to the United Kingdom here.


REP. FITZGERALD DELIVERS $5,000 CHECK FROM THE MY SAFE FLORIDA HOME PROGRAM TO SARASOTA RESIDENT

On behalf of Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and the My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program, Representative Keith Fitzgerald (D-Sarasota) personally delivered a matching grant reimbursement for $5,000 to a Sarasota homeowner who hardened her home through the state’s MSFH program. At the event today, Rep. Fitzgerald discussed the financial and safety incentives available through the MSFH program and encouraged more homeowners in the area to sign up for the program’s free wind inspections.

“Mitigation is the best way to protect your home. It will reduce the state’s exposure to hurricane damage and it can result in savings on your wind insurance premium,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. “I encourage more Floridians to follow Howard Houle’s lead and sign up for free wind inspections through the My Safe Florida Home program.”

Howard Houle, a 57-year-old resident of Sarasota, received a grant reimbursement Monday after hardening his homes opening protections. After having his home inspected by a MSFH inspector, Houle received a report indicating that hardening all of his home’s window and door openings would help strengthen his home to hurricanes. Based on information from his inspection report, Houle made $15,700 worth of improvements on his home. 

"The My Safe Florida Home Program is an important incentive for homeowners to protect their homes from hurricane damage," said Representative Fitzgerald. "The program has not always worked smoothly in the past, but it is important for people to know that the state has worked out many of the initial problems. This important benefit is there for them if they qualify. We all benefit when our neighbors harden their homes from storms because doing so lowers insurance rates and adds to public safety."

To date, the program has reimbursed 79 homeowners in Sarasota County for a total of $254,081.82. In Manatee County, the program has reimbursed 52 homeowners for a total cost of $167,587.53. Currently there are 383 homeowners in Sarasota County hardening their homes through the MSFH program. In Manatee County, 313 homeowners are hardening their homes through the MSFH program. These homeowners are being reimbursed for half the cost up to $5,000 on a variety of home improvements, including hurricane shutters, reinforced garage doors and bracing gable ends.

Any Floridian who lives in a single-family, site-built home is eligible for a free wind inspection through the program. Floridians can apply on-line at www.MySafeFloridaHome.com or by calling the program toll-free at 1-866-513-6734. Homeowners who receive free wind inspections through the MSFH program will get a detailed inspection report, complete with additional eligibility information on matching grants and estimated insurance premium discounts, if the homeowner is eligible.

In order to be eligible for the program’s matching grant reimbursements of up to $5,000, the Legislature requires that homeowners meet the following requirements: have received a completed wind inspection after May 1, 2007; live in a single-family, site-built home built before March 1, 2002; have a valid homestead exemption; have an insured value of $300,000 or less; and be located in the wind-borne debris region.

Additionally, while the free wind inspections will still cover seven potential wind-resistance improvements, matching grants may only be applied to opening protections, including windows, exterior doors and garage doors, as well as the bracing of gable ends.


FINANCIAL LITERACY COUNCIL TO CONVENE SIXTH MEETING IN MIAMI ON WEDNESDAY

In an ongoing effort to increase financial literacy and help Floridians make better financial decisions, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced that the Financial Literacy Council will convene its sixth meeting in Miami. The meeting will be held from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Wednesday, November 14, 2007, at the United Way of Miami-Dade in the Ansin Building.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the council will discuss the content of the annual report due to the Governor and Florida Legislature on January 1, 2008, as well as hear presentations from the following groups; Acción USA Florida, CompuCredit Corporation, Miami Saves, and the Human Services Coalition.

The sixth meeting of the Financial Literacy Council will be as follows:

DATE:         Wednesday, November 14, 2007
TIME:          9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
LOCATION: United Way of Miami-Dade
                   The Ansin Building
                   3250 SW 3rd Ave
                   Miami, FL 33129 

The council, authorized in 2006 by House Bill 825, was created to study the financial problems that affect consumers, particularly young persons, seniors, working adults and small business owners, which arise from a lack of basic knowledge of financial issues. The council will also develop recommendations to aid the Department of Financial Services in developing programs and resources aimed at increasing financial literacy among Floridians.

The following are the Financial Literacy Council members: Paul Auslander, CFP, President, American Financial Advisors; Liana Fernandez Fox, Ph.D., Professor, Hillsborough Community College; Richard George, President, Junior Achievement of West Central Florida; Cassandra J. Grayson, Sr. Vice President, Administration, Florida Credit Union League; Doug Heinlen, Member of Florida Executive Council, American Association of Retired Persons; Deidre Newton, President and CEO, Community Real Estate Services, Inc.; Chair Obdulio Piedra, Miami-Dade Market President, Great Florida Bank; Dulce M. Suarez-Resnick, Senior Account Manager, HBA Insurance Group.

For more information regarding the Financial Literacy Council please visit www.myfloridamoney.com.


CFO SINK AND COMMISSIONER BRONSON TO HOST FINAL WORKSHOP “CONVERSATIONS ON CLIMATE CHANGE”
Third Conversation to Focus on the Financial Impacts of Climate Change

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Commissioner of Agriculture Charles Bronson will host the final in a series of “Conversations on Climate Change,” on November 13, 2007, at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday’s workshop, set to begin after the Florida Cabinet meeting, is titled Climate Change: The Bottom Line.

CFO Sink and Commissioner Bronson have partnered to host a series of four climate change workshops, each featuring new topics and national experts in areas such as: the science of rising sea levels, renewable energy sources, carbon offset and pricing, the impact of climate change on the insurance and financial industries, and more. The sessions will also give elected officials, business leaders and Floridians the opportunity to understand how these challenges and potential solutions present opportunities for the growth of new industries in our state.

Guest speakers at the workshop will include:

Mindy Lubber, President of Ceres

Lewis Milford, President of Clean Energy States Alliance

Dr. Robert Muir-Wood, Chief Research Officer of Risk Management Solutions

By logging onto www.floridaclimatechange.com, Floridians can learn about climate change, review the meeting dates and agendas for the conversations, watch a Web cast of Wednesday’s workshop, and read about initiatives in other states.


STATE FIRE MARSHAL’S OFFICE ANNOUNCES 13TH ANNUAL GREAT FLORIDA FIRE SCHOOL

Firefighters from throughout Florida converged this week in the Central Florida community of Avon Park to receive the latest training on firefighting and investigative techniques to help them prepare for potential disaster, whether manmade or natural.

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who also serves as State Fire Marshal and oversees the Florida State Fire College, said the 13th Annual Great Florida Fire School will help Florida’s firefighters access ongoing training they need to better protect their communities and themselves. The classes began on Wednesday, November 7, 2007, and continue through Sunday, November 11, 2007. Most events will be held at the South Florida Community College, just south of downtown Avon Park. 

“We are committed to ensuring Florida’s emergency responders have access to the best and most up-to-date training and information to accomplish their work successfully and safely,” said CFO Sink.

Classes were offered in rural water supply, water rescue and survival, Extreme Extrication, and a Saturday/Sunday round robin event involving flashover, structural collapse, and confined space rescue. Special vehicles will be brought in from the Florida State Fire College, Naples Fire Department, and Indian River Community College for the round robin. For a complete list of activities and classes, log on to www.greatfloridafireschool.org.

The Great Florida Fire School began 13 years ago and has been an annual event. It has traveled through a number of locations in the state and this is the fourth year that it will be held in Avon Park. This year’s fire school is a cooperative effort of the Department of Financial Services, the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Florida State Fire College, The Florida State Firefighter’s Association, The South Florida Community College, the local area Fire Chief’s Associations, the Florida Division of Forestry, the Convention & Visitors Bureau of Highlands County, Avon Park Chamber of Commerce and the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners.


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