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Rep. Giallombardo addresses legislation of interest to contractors

By CHUCK BALLARO - | May 16, 2022

State Rep. Mike Giallombardo, R-77, speaks at the CCCIA’s monthly dinner meeting Thursday at Palmetto Pines Country Club.

Flood and homeowners insurance and licensing are two area of interest to Lee County’s construction industry.

State Rep. Mike Giallombardo. R-77, addressed them both at the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association’s monthly dinner meeting last Thursday at Palmetto Pines Country Club.

Giallombardo spoke briefly about the importance of school boards, with two candidates in the audience, and said he is not impressed with Cape Coral Technical College because he doesn’t feel it meets the demands needed in the area.

He also told those attending he had worked on a bill that would allow septic tank installers to also perform inspections so that permitting wouldn’t get so backed up, especially in areas like the North Cape and Lehigh Acres.

Giallombardo told members that he didn’t think much would get done in the upcoming special session about insurance, and added there isn’t much the state legislature can do regarding flood insurance, since that is a national issue.

“There isn’t much the state can do. You can individually challenge, and I know some who have won,” Giallombardo said. “Much of Cape Coral is a flood zone according to FEMA. We are a donor state for all the states on the Mississippi River.”

Giallombardo said flood insurance rates have risen to as much as $10,000 per year, making the home unaffordable. Giallombardo was a sponsor of a bill last year that would have repealed the premium tax, and though it didn’t reach the governor’s desk, he said he would work on it for next budget session.

As for property insurance, the big problem has been that Citizens, the state home insurance company, has been drowning in policies, with more than 1 million.

Giallombardo was a sponsor of a bill that would get homeowners onto private insurers and said he would try to do the same in the special session. He also said lawsuits are a huge problem.

“We have 100,000 lawsuits going on and many of them are fraud and frivolous. We have to put a stop to it,” Giallombardo said. “There’s a balance between ensuring the insurance companies pay claims that are legitimate and a roofing company using an application saying there was a gust the resulted in missing one shingle and now the roof needs to be replaced because it’s out of date.”

The roofing company or attorneys were paying the deductible for the homeowner, and a $25,000 roof was becoming a $300,000 roof. Giallombardo said tort reform must be addressed, but that everything won’t be solved in a week.

Another major subject regarded licensing. Unlicensed contracting is a problem, according to the CCCIA and other industry associations, and many contractors say one legislative change means that they will have to compete for permitting with unlicensed contractors.

Giallombardo said the state legislature did approve a bill that took away the occupational licensing for any license the state doesn’t already require. The law does not go into effect until July 1, 2023 and it does not state that local governments have to get rid of their licensing boards. It says that local government entities cannot require licensing the state doesn’t require.

The issue behind the legislation was that some governments had licensing requirements for everything. Sprinkler licensing was among those addressed. The state has one as does the city.

Alfredo Morris, owner of AM Irrigation, let it be known that he, who has worked in the industry for years and followed the rules, did not want to want to compete with those who are unlicensed and perhaps unqualified.

“If a handyman wanted to perform lawn irrigation services, the state license is voluntary at this point. If you get that license, can handymen perform that work if the state doesn’t require they be licensed under a local municipality?” Morris asked. “If they can’t pull permits, I don’t care. If they can (a license is not required to pull a permit), we’re competing against handymen.”

Bill Johnson Jr., executive director of the CCCIA, said the state rep made some good points and was happy to have him speak.

“He gave us his perspective of what he sees and has done with the legislation,” Johnson said. “We’ve worked with his office on licensing. I think we have some hurdles to get through before the licensing law takes effect, but we’re on the right page and getting to where we want to be.”