Battle Brewing Over Building Codes in Florida

The Florida Building Commission is considering whether building codes should be increased in the Panhandle to match the higher standards across the rest of the state.

The issue pits insurance companies against home builders.

Florida has one of the strongest building codes in the nation, except in the Panhandle.

In 2000, state lawmakers adopted the Panhandle Exemption, which limits the requirement for storm shutters on new construction to one mile from the coast.

A new proposal being debated now would extend that requirement farther inland to at least five miles from shore, but insurance companies say the plan is still weaker than the required building codes across the rest of Florida.

They're pushing for uniform building codes for the entire state.

The Florida Insurance Council says the same standards that are appropriate for Tampa Bay and for South Florida should be in place in the Panhandle. The council says that storm shutters would be required wherever 120-mile-an-hour winds or greater are possible.