U.S. Representative

Dennis A. Ross

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Tallahassee Democrat: David Hart Op-ed: Empower Floridians to invest in their safety

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Florida, Nov 8, 2013 | comments
Tallahassee Democrat
Nov. 7, 2013 6:33 PM

As Floridians, we all know and accept the reality that we live in a hurricane-prone state. Our beautiful peninsula is one of the most exposed places in the world to the natural forces and costs of tropical windstorms.

But, we do not have to accept that nothing can be done.

That is why the Florida Chamber of Commerce is pleased to support the Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013, recently introduced by Florida Congressman Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland. Congressman Ross’ bill would allow eligible individuals to deduct from their taxable gross income up to $5,000 annually to use for disaster mitigation expenses.

It’s a good idea that deserves support from every Floridian. This bill would make Florida families safer from the inevitable next storm. It also would reduce the economic cost of disasters in our state and across the nation.

The Florida Chamber has long advocated that homeowners should be provided with creative, market-based solutions to our natural disaster risks, instead of the ill-conceived and ineffective government programs to which we have too often turned. Congressman Ross’ idea provides just that type of creative thinking and leadership. It will empower individual homeowners to invest in the safety features that make the most sense for their homes and property. Empowering consumers to support individual accountability is a good, responsible alternative to creating or growing government programs that put taxpayers at financial and physical risk.

These affordable tax incentives represent a tangible, meaningful strategy to make our communities and homes safer. Not only would Congressman Ross’ initiative help protect lives, it would contribute to reducing property losses, the costs of disaster relief and insurance costs.

The nationally recognized, Florida-based Institute of Business and Home Safety has estimated that every dollar invested in mitigation yields four to seven times that amount in savings. Similarly, the Multihazard Mitigation Council showed that each dollar spent on mitigation saves society an average of four dollars, with positive benefit-cost ratios for all hazard types studied.

The favorable return on investment from Congressman Ross’ bill is clear — it supports real-world safety improvements while also contributing to Florida’s economy through construction-related home safety improvements.

The next hurricane to hit Florida is inevitable. Forward-thinking leadership in Washington, D.C., is not. But, Congressman Ross has provided some with this well-crafted bill.

The Florida Chamber urges all Floridians to contact their members of Congress in support of the Disaster Savings Accounts Act of 2013, to thank Congressman Ross and to ask their representatives to add their voices to his.

David Hart is executive vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at dhart@flchamber.com.
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