Lee County Commissioner Larry Kiker knows the damaging effects that higher flood insurance premiums caused by the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 can do for everyone on Fort Myers Beach and the outlying areas.
Kiker is a Beach resident and homeowner on the island. He is personally affected along with his neighbors and would have been affected if the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act was not signed into law.
Recently, the Florida Association of Counties presented Kiker with the Presidential Advocacy Award during the 2014 FAC Annual Conference & Exposition in Orange County. Officials with FAC called the Disrict 3 commissioner "an invaluable asset" this year as the organization launched its new Federal advocacy program. They stated Kiker's interest and intimate knowledge of flood insurance issues "helped the Association convey to Congress why flood insurance reform was desperately needed."
As a result of this advocacy, Florida's flood insurance story was told and Congress ultimately passed legislation that will aid many Floridians who were financially impacted by the old law.
"The BOCC allowed me to represent Lee County last year regarding flood insurance, making sure that we had a voice," said Kiker. "Working closely with staff and with the full participation of the Lee County mayors, we were able to present our story along with other Florida counties. It was very similar to the work we did together regarding the water quality presentation we participated in during a Washington Congressional Hearing."
The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act was passed and signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 21, 2014.
While that was called a victory of some sort, Kiker summed up the progress with a succinct sports reference.
"I look at the work that we did much like a football game. We ran a great touchdown in Washington thanks to Sen. Nelson and, with the help from all of our state senators and representatives, we ran another," he said. "But this is only the first half of the game. There are many issues yet to understand, vent and conquer. There will be more on this subject."
Kiker humbly passed credit to the owner of Heidrick & Company Insurance in Sanibel.
"Of course, Chris Heidrick was an expert in the field and, with his knowledge, much of this is from his personal and professional efforts," he said. "Lee County has been very successful with lobbying efforts and certainly the results speak for themselves. Next year should be equally successful with both flood insurance and water quality efforts."
The Presidential Advocacy Award is given annually to county commissioners from around the state who have shown exceptional leadership in partnering with FAC to advance the counties' legislative agenda.
Kiker joins Karen Seel of Pinellas County, Heather Carruthers of Monroe County, Bill Truex of Charlotte County, Chip LaMarca of Broward County, Doug Smith of Martin County, Lynda Bell of Miami-Dade County, Grover Robinson of Escambia County, Stan McClain of Marion County, Sarah Heard of Martin County, Kathy Bryant of Marion County, Karson Turner of Hendry County, Kathryn Starkey of Pasco County, Ed Fielding of Martin County and Frannie Hutchison of St. Lucie County as FAC 2014 Presidential Advocacy Award winners.
"It is public servants like Commissioner Kiker that ensure our local communities have the authority to respond to the demands of their citizens," said FAC Executive Director Chris Holley. "Commissioner Kiker's willingness to advocate for counties on every level was essential to passing this important legislation."
For 85 years, the Florida Association of Counties has represented the diverse interests of Florida's counties, emphasizing the importance of protecting home rule - the concept that government closest to the people governs best. The Florida Association of Counties helps counties effectively serve and represent Floridians by strengthening and preserving county home rule through advocacy, education and collaboration.