TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's next Speaker of the House has predictions for election night 2024 — and reaffirmed Monday the state's property insurance market still needs work.
U.S. Rep. Danny Perez, R-Miami, was officially tapped by Republicans to be the next Florida House Speaker in September. His term holding the gavel won’t start until 2025. Before then, the South Florida attorney said he was focused on campaigning to keep GOP supermajorities in the state House and state Senate next year.
"No one knows what's going to happen in the future — but, I believe we're gonna hold on to every single Republican seat that exists in the Florida House today," Perez said. "And we're gonna get on offense. I think there's several seats that have a representation or seeking a representation of a Republican elected official in order to move forward with the policies that they believe in."
Perez felt voter frustration with the national economy would be the lynchpin to GOP victories next November. And while he didn't have specifics — the Republican said to expect a fight on inflation in the coming 2024 session with bills seeking more state autonomy from the federal government.
"Making sure that people can go back to some of the highlights of their life that existed prior to President Biden taking over the White House," Perez said. "So, we wanna make sure that, as a state, we control as much as we can which has to do with the day-to-day objectives of people in our districts. That's our number one goal. Make sure that they're happy."
Florida Democrats, meanwhile, continue to promise big wins next year after getting trounced in the 2022 midterms. Chair of the state party, Nikki Fried, told us recently the losses were a turnout problem that she believed is being remedied. She cited recent Democrat pickups in places like the Jacksonville mayor's office.
"When Democrats show up — when we work hard in our districts," Fried said earlier this month. "When we have the right message, people are coming out and supporting it."
Fried also thought President Joe Biden's accomplishments and issues like abortion would drive people to the polls next November. Not to mention, ongoing frustration with how the GOP majority has handled Florida's property insurance crisis. Premiums in the state are still among the highest in the country despite several rounds of reform.
"This is not a partisan issue," Perez said. "I think both sides of the aisle understand that something has to be done."
Perez said cutting prices was still a goal for him. He believed there would be another bill next year to help make it happen, but also expected recent changes reducing insurance litigation and bolstering oversight needed more time to work. Perhaps not as much as first thought, Perez said.
"The conversations that we're having with some of the in-state insurance companies, they're saying that 12 to 18 months is probably too long," the House speaker designate said. "They're saying closer to eight to 10 months. Maybe at the beginning of next year, we'll start to see some of those increases start to go down. Is that a guarantee? No. We have to let it play out to see if it worked or not. We believe it will work."
More insurers are expected to join Florida’s market in the new year. Whether that'll have an impact on prices or the ballot box remains to be seen.
When it comes to Perez's time with the gavel, he has promised a more bipartisan atmosphere in 2025. Democrats told us recently they're skeptical. House Minority Leader Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, said her mission remained unchanged, find common ground and hold the majority accountable.