United Business Community Can Win the War

By: Mark Wilson

 

Voice of Reason

June 2017

For years I’ve been warning about the growing power of TV trial lawyers over the Florida Legislature. It was none more apparent than this year’s regular legislative session.

Throughout session, politicians put short-term politics ahead of Florida’s long-term security, and ignored rising workers’ compensation rates on job creators, and rising property insurance rates on Florida’s families and workers. The lack of courage demonstrated by some in the Florida Legislature was so apparent, it prompted the Wall Street Journal to ask, “Does Florida’s legislature exist to enrich plaintiffs attorneys or to serve the Sunshine State’s voters?”

Lawmakers were well educated on the problem early on. Leading up to the 2017 Legislative Session, Florida businesses were hit with $1.5 billion in increased costs due to a series of workers’ comp court decisions. And rising property insurance rates – as much as 10 percent higher – were being forced onto homeowners to cover the ever-increasing cost of water losses due to a “homeowner fraud tax” that’s become a lucrative niche industry for some TV trial lawyers and shady contractors. A similar scam is haunting auto owners.

During session, the Florida House passed Florida Chamber-supported bills that addressed both problems. Yet the Florida Senate opted to ignore the House’s legislation, and instead considered a bill actually written by trial lawyers that did nothing to tackle rising workers’ comp rates, the attorney fees at the heart of the problem, or rising property insurance rates.

The legislative session is now in the rear view mirror, but Florida small businesses, workers and families are now forced to deal with the rising cost of legislative inaction in the form of higher insurance premiums. At the Florida Chamber, we won’t give up.

Workers’ Compensation

A $1.5 billion increase in workers’ comp rates stunts economic opportunities and impacts employees who should be receiving the health care they need and getting back to work quickly. Many businesses are just now learning of the workers’ comp rate increase, and getting their first bill with the higher rates. The Florida Chamber and its Workers’ Comp Task Force will continue standing up for job creators, fighting to protect workers, and working with elected leaders to enact reforms to help make Florida more competitive. Add your voice to our work improving Florida’s workers’ comp system by contacting Carolyn Johnson.

Assignment of Benefits

We’re committed to protecting homeowners and auto owners from this rampant fraud and abuse. Far too often home and auto owners are unaware that by signing an AOB for repairs means they’re signing away their rights, and making themselves and their insurance carrier vulnerable to scam tactics and lawsuits. The Florida Chamber and our Consumer Protection Coalition continue to partner with leading organizations across Florida to raise awareness and seek legislative resolutions. In between now and the next legislative session, you’ll see our digital public service announcements designed to protect Floridians and strengthen our message. Join our mounting efforts to combat AOB fraud and abuse by contacting Edie Ousley.
We will continue our efforts to identify and elect pro-jobs, pro-business candidates to the Florida Legislature that will put Florida’s long-term economic future ahead of political quick fixes. And we’ll continue working with our partners, providing a united business community, to stand on the front lines fighting these battles on behalf of Florida small business, workers and families.

We can win this together.