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Gallagher Announces Federal Legislation to Create Catastrophe Savings Accounts

3/1/2006

CONTACT: Tami Torres or Bob Lotane
(850) 413-2842                                     
 
Gallagher has been promoting accounts since 2004 hurricane season
 
TALLAHASSEE – Tom Gallagher, Florida's chief financial officer, announced today that Congressman Tom Feeney from Orlando has filed federal legislation to create Catastrophe Savings Accounts (CSAs).  CSAs would give homeowners in Florida, and across the country, the opportunity to put money aside tax-free to financially prepare for major catastrophes. 
 
"Floridians deserve the opportunity to protect themselves against the financial devastation inflicted by hurricanes and other catastrophic events," said Gallagher, who first initiated the idea with the Florida Legislature last year.  "These accounts are a commonsense approach to encourage preparedness and personal responsibility and give Floridians the incentive they need to financially prepare for catastrophes.  I support Congressman Feeney for his leadership in Congress on behalf of Floridians, and I pledge to continue working with him to make CSAs a reality."
 
The creation of CSAs is one of several solutions Gallagher began pursuing after the 2004 hurricane season to help Floridians prepare for the financial impact of a catastrophic storm. Gallagher said the legislation filed today will help homeowners accumulate money tax-free to cover deductible expenses, uninsured losses, and structural upgrades to mitigate damage from future storms. 
 
Following the 2004 hurricane season, Gallagher initiated a proposal to help lay the groundwork for Floridians to set up CSAs and keep them protected from creditors.  The legislation (Senate Bill 660), sponsored by Senator Lisa Carlton and Representative Thad Altman, was approved in the 2005 session and signed into law by Governor Jeb Bush. 
 
To create the accounts under federal law and gain tax-exempt designation, Gallagher met with several members of Florida's Congressional delegation to gather support in Congress. Gallagher said he is confident that legislation filed today by Congressman Feeney will receive strong support from Florida's delegation and other states, and he will continue lobbying Congress to encourage creation of CSAs. 
 
Feeney's bill also has the support of the following congressional members from Florida: Representatives Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Katherine Harris, Ginny Brown-Waite, Mike Bilirakis, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ric Keller, Jeff Miller, Connie Mack IV, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Alcee Hastings.
 
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As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. Gallagher also serves as the State Fire Marshal.