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Politics

David Santiago: Get Gov't Out of Property Insurance; Help Vets Start Small Businesses

December 15, 2012 - 6:00pm

Rep. David Santiago, R-Deltona


Date of Birth: December 14, 1970
Birthplace: Dover, N.J.
Residence: Deltona
Education: High School Diploma
Occupation: Financial Manager
Previous Public Office(s): Deltona City Commission, 2003-2007
Family: Wife, three children
Did you know? Is a veteran of the United States Army Reserve

Freshman David Santiago, R-Deltona, is pursuing an ambitious agenda for the 2013 legislative session, one that includes depopulating the states property insurance program, expediting the home foreclosure process, and making it easier for veterans to start new businesses.

Each of the three state legislators representing Volusia County is a freshman Republican. David Santiago represents District 27, the Democratic-leaning southwest portion of a Democratic-leaning county. And he beat his opponent handily, winning 55 percent of the vote against Phil Giorno, chairman of the countys Democratic Executive Committee.

Giorno had banked on name recognition: not his own, but that of popular former Deltona mayor Rick Mulder, who stepped out of the race to care for an ill son but whose name nevertheless remained on the ballot even after Giorno replaced him.

Of course, Santiago had some name recognition of his own: The New Jersey native hes lived in Deltona since 1991 sat on his city commission for four years, from 2003 to 2007, and had unsuccessfully run for mayor in 2010.

Hes a financial manager at JP Morgan Chase, where he specializes in helping active military personnel and veterans with their financial needs. Santiago himself served in the army reserves.

And that background is reflected in his committee appointments by House Speaker Will Weatherford: Finance and Tax, Insurance and Banking, Rulemaking Oversight and Repeal, Veteran and Military Affairs, and Local and Federal Affairs. All but the last were specifically requested by him.

Asked what he believed would be the main legislative priorities in 2013, Santiago does not hesitate to place the reform of Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Floridas government-established property insurer, at the top of the list.

He insists the state has no business insuring homes, but says the prudent thing to do is to depopulate the program progressively.

But how to wean people off insurance sold to them by their government at below-market prices? Thats the tricky part.

Yes, the ultimate goal is to get the state out of the insurance business; thats not what we should be doing, but were in it, so we have to get out of it smartly, he tells Sunshine State News. I was amazed to hear [at a recent committee meeting] that they were proud that they depopulated 30,000 policies in November; however, they also said that theyre signing up 8,000 people a week. So you got rid of 30,000 but you signed up 32,000? That says to me we really need to solve this. The taxpayers are on the hook here for way too much.

Asked what legislation, if any, he will be proposing in the upcoming session, Santiago describes three proposals hes researching and getting ready to draft.

The first is a bill that would expedite the foreclosure process for abandoned homes.

This long process is cumbersome for both the homeowner and for the banks, he tells the News. Im trying to figure out a way to get some of these homes prioritized through the books and through the courts. That would be good for the neighborhoods, for the banks, and for the overall housing market.

The second item on his agenda is a bill that would grant fee waivers to any military serviceman who chooses to start a business within 24 months of his honorable discharge. Santiago says hes working with a couple of vet organizations on the legislation.

The final piece of legislation hes presently considering is one especially close to his heart: Santiago hopes to introduce and sponsor the House version of SB 56, a bill introduced by Sen. Alan Hayes, R-Umatilla, which would establish new investigative procedures for medical examiners who perform autopsies on the victims of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Santiagos 5-month-old-son, David, died of SIDS 11 years ago.

The hope is that with these new procedures we can help gather better data and extrapolate new information to help prevent more of these unknown deaths for infants, Santiago tells the News. Ive already placed a call to Senator Hayes office, hoping to become the co-sponsor of the House version.

Reach Eric Giunta at egiunta@sunshinestatenews.com or at (954) 235-9116.

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