State Regulators Increase Workers’ Comp Rates by 14.5 Percent

Green Lights Plaintiff Trial Lawyers to Increase Their Compensation

Following the encouragement of many in the business community to make Florida’s workers’ compensation rate as actuarially sound as possible, state regulators today announced a 14.5 percent increase – an increase that green lights plaintiff trial lawyers to increase their own compensation on the backs of job creators, the Florida Chamber of Commerce said.

“Putting job creators and injured workers first is the right thing to do to keep Florida’s workers’ compensation system working. Unfortunately, the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling is not about safety or protecting workers. The effect of the Castellanos decision is to raise costs for no other reason than so plaintiff trial lawyers can raise fees,” said MARK WILSON, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation today contingently approved the 14.5 percent workers’ comp rate increase following two Florida Supreme Court decisions that declared portions of Florida’s workers’ comp system unconstitutional. In one case in particular, Castellanos, the plaintiff argued that the plaintiff trial lawyer should receive $38,000 in attorney fees for a case in which the injured worker was awarded only $800. That’s $800 for the injured worker and $38,000 for the trial lawyer. This accounts for nearly two-thirds of the rate increase.
The increase follows a mid-August public hearing in which the Florida Chamber’s Wilson testified saying:

“…this will have a negative impact on Florida’s business climate. It will likely impact Florida’s 61 consecutive months of job growth. And perhaps most disturbing, is that this will be a self-inflicted wound that advantages trial lawyers instead of workers.”

For employers, the nearly 15 percent rate increase – which takes effect December 1, 2016 for new and renewal policies – is particularly troublesome because many small businesses haven’t budgeted for dramatically higher rates. For Debbie Harvey, CEO of Ron Jon Surf Shop and Co-Chair of the Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Comp Task Force, the 14.5 percent workers’ comp increase means the famous surf shop will no longer be able to add a new, mid-level employee to their team next year.

“This isn’t an outlier story. Unfortunately, this is the impact an increase of this magnitude could have on businesses – making them choose between hiring new employees or paying higher workers’ comp premiums,” said MARK WILSON, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber.

A legislative solution for both court cases is needed to help keep rates affordable for job creators.
The Florida Chamber has a long history of helping to keep Florida’s workers’ comp system working. In the last 13 years, the Florida Chamber has led efforts to help lower rates by nearly 60 percent. Since the 2003 workers’ comp reforms were enacted, injured workers returned to work 10 days faster.

Those efforts continue today, as the Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Compensation Task Force has been engaging Florida’s highest elected leaders and working with top legal minds to develop the right solution. In addition to task force meetings, regional meetings have taken place across Florida, and our local chamber federation is actively engaged – assessing the impact it will have on local businesses, and joining efforts toward solutions.

The Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Comp Task Force is co-chaired by Debbie Harvey, CEO of Ron Jon Surf Shop and Steve Knopik, CEO of Bealls Inc. Steve Knopik will be leading a panel discussion at this week’s Future of Florida Forum on workers’ comp with Senator Bill Galvano and other legislative leaders.

ICYMI: Q&A: Business task force leaders argue for a Florida workers’ compensation fix, Tampa Bay Times.

Florida Chamber Unveils 2015 Legislative Report Card

Missed Opportunities and Philosophical Differences Lead to Fewer Votes
Cast On Issues That Could Have Made Florida More Competitive

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (July 7 , 2015) – Following the 2015 regular and special legislative sessions, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today is releasing actual grades earned by all members of the House and Senate on the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Report Card. The grades reflect fewer scored votes cast than previous years on issues that would have made Florida more competitive – especially in the areas of healthcare, water policy, lawsuit abuse reform and taxpayer funded pension reform. Although this year will be remembered as the year the legislative process missed major opportunities, the Florida Chamber thanks Senate President Andy Gardiner and Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli for not allowing new lawsuits, new taxes or more regulations.

After tabulating more than 3,384 votes cast during the 2015 regular and special legislative sessions, nearly 54 percent of state lawmakers earned an “A” (90-100) on the priority pro-jobs issues outlined in the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Business Agenda. 3,384 actual scored votes is approximately only half of the scored votes as in previous years.

The Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card is an annual opportunity to honor and recognize members of the Florida Legislature who placed making Florida more competitive through private-sector job creation above special interests attempts to protect the status quo.

“Despite philosophical differences, lawmakers passed 20 Florida Chamber-backed measures during the two recent legislative sessions,” said Steve Knopik, Chair of the Florida Chamber and CEO of Beall’s, Inc. “Unfortunately, there were a number of missed opportunities, resulting in fewer votes taken on issues that could help make Florida more competitive.”

The Florida Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Report Card is an online tool that illuminates grades legislators earned based on their support of pro-jobs, pro-business issues during the annual legislative session.

Poll after poll shows that Floridians are concerned about the job the Congress and the Florida Legislature are doing. The latest Florida Chamber voter poll shows 41 percent of voters disapprove of the job lawmakers are doing, while 40 percent approve, compared to 70 percent of Florida voters who disapprove of the job Congress is doing.

“The Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card lets Florida’s families and small businesses know if legislators voted in favor of job creation and a stronger economy, and provides them with valuable information as they begin to consider the 2016 election cycle,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber.

Building on the Florida Chamber’s multi-year competitiveness agenda, this year the Florida Legislature and Governor Rick Scott approved more than $400 million in targeted tax relief, championed education reforms for a globally competitive workforce, invested in infrastructure and transportation, strengthened Florida’s economic development efforts, implemented Amendment 1 and made strides to address Florida’s forthcoming doctor shortage.

Analytics From the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Report Card Reveal:

  • 20 Senators earned an “A” – remaining steady from 2013 and 2014,
  • 61 Representatives earned an “A” – down from 71 last year, and
  • Grade Point Average for Representatives was 83 percent and 89 percent for Senators – down from 87 percent and up from 88.7 percent respectively last year.

The Florida Chamber entered the 2015 Legislative Session by encouraging lawmakers to focus on making Florida’s business climate more competitive and lowering the cost of living for Florida’s families and small businesses. The Florida Chamber’s agenda for jobs, Where We Stand, served as an important roadmap to educate lawmakers on the business community’s priorities.

Lawmakers were also notified prior to each vote impacting the Florida Chamber’s agenda for jobs that their vote would be counted. The tabulated results of each of those votes result in the Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card.

While 1,795 bills were filed, and 232 of them passed both chambers, the Florida Chamber has a focused agenda and the actual votes used to calculate the report card are those votes that tie directly to the Florida Chamber’s agenda for jobs. In the past four years, Governor Scott has had a perfect batting average in signing all 104 Florida Chamber-backed bills into law.

“While I wish the regulations process would have allowed more courageous votes, I’m extremely proud of the great work of the Florida Chamber’s Board of Directors, local chambers and the more than 30 lobbyists that have worked aggressively in support of free enterprise and job creation,” Hart said.

Moving forward, the Florida Chamber is already developing its 2016 Business Agenda, and the Florida Chamber’s Political Operations team, under the direction of Senior Vice President of Political Operations Marian Johnson, is actively enlisting pro-jobs, pro-business candidates to run in the 2016 election cycle.

The Florida Chamber will soon release How They Voted 2015, a detailed annual report summarizing the priorities of the recent legislative sessions and incorporating the 2015 Legislative Report Card.

 

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Bealls, Celebrating Its Centennial, a Vital Part of Florida’s History and Its Future

On behalf of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, I would like to congratulate Bealls, Inc. on its 100-year anniversary.

The department store chain, which started in Bradenton and now has more than 530 stores throughout the state, is the very embodiment of what free enterprise is all about — the ability to grow and expand private-sector business and create more jobs for Floridians.

Bealls truly represents the Florida lifestyle with its unique brand, yet its traditions are still deeply rooted in the Beall family that founded the company.

The company has been a member of the Florida Chamber of Commerce since 1970, with Robert Beall II (Bob) serving as chairman of the board in 2005.

Bob’s leadership and investment in Florida’s economy are a true testament to the principles established by his grandfather and founder of Bealls, Robert M. Beall, and his father, E.R. Beall.

The Bealls legacy continues today with the dedication and philanthropy exemplified by current Florida Chamber of Commerce Chairman of the Board Steve Knopik. We’re proud to recognize Bealls as a vital part of Florida’s past and look forward to working together to secure Florida’s future.

 

Mark Wilson, President, CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce Tallahassee

 

Florida Chamber Honors Florida-Based Bealls, Inc. Retailer for 100 Years

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Edie Ousley, 850-521-1231 or 850-251-6261
eousley@flchamber.com

Centennial Anniversary of
Family-Owned, Bradenton Business

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (April 14, 2015) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce today joined Florida Governor Scott and members of the Florida Cabinet in recognizing Florida-based retailer Bealls, Inc. on its 100-year anniversary. The company was honored with a proclamation for their centennial anniversary during today’s Cabinet meeting.

“The department store chain, which started in Bradenton and now has more than 530 stores throughout the state, is the very embodiment of what free enterprise is all about – the ability to grow and expand private-sector business and create more jobs for Floridians,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber.

Bealls’ unique brand truly represents the Florida lifestyle, yet its traditions are still deeply rooted in the Beall family that founded the company. Their motto “always do what is right” resonates throughout their company culture and their focus on Florida’s future.

“This is a great honor for Bealls,” Bob Beall said when receiving the Cabinet Proclamation. “We’re hoping to go for another 100 years.”

The company has been a member of the Florida Chamber of Commerce since 1970 with Robert Beall, II (Bob) serving as Chairman of the Board in 2005. Bob’s leadership and investment in Florida’s economy are a true testament to the principles established by his grandfather and founder of Bealls, Robert M. Beall, and his father, E.R. Beall.

The Bealls legacy continues still today with the dedication and philanthropy exemplified by current Florida Chamber of Commerce Chairman of the Board, Steve Knopik.

“The Florida Chamber is proud to recognize Bealls as a vital part of Florida’s past and look forward to working together to secure Florida’s future,” Wilson added.

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Florida Chamber Board of Directors Elect Retail CEO Steve Knopik as 2014-2015 Chair

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Edie Ousley, 850-521-1231 or 850-251-6261
eousley@flchamber.com

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (November 20, 2014) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce today announced that Steve Knopik, CEO of Beall’s Inc., has been elected Chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors.

“Steve Knopik is an experienced business leader who understands that the private-sector plays an important role in making Florida more competitive,” said Mark Wilson President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “As Chair of the Florida Chamber, Steve will volunteer his time and talent to support our mission of uniting the business community and championing free enterprise principles and solutions to secure Florida’s future.”

Knopik replaces outgoing Florida Chamber Board of Director Chair Eric Silagy, President and CEO of Florida Power and Light Company, whose term expired October 31, 2014.

“It’s an honor for me to Chair the Florida Chamber Board. I am committed to working hard with the Chamber team to build upon the successes that we’ve achieved. I firmly believe that the Florida Chamber will continue to play a vital role in shaping a bright future for all Floridians,” said Knopik.

Knopik has been the CEO of Beall’s Inc. since August 2006, having previously served this Florida-based company as its Chief Financial Officer, its Executive Vice President and its President. He has been with the Company since 1984. He holds a business degree from the University of Florida, and serves on the boards of Publix Supermarkets, Inc. the National Retail Federation and the Florida Council of 100. In his local community, Knopik serves on the Southwest Florida Advisory Board for SunTrust Bank and is a Director Emeritus of the Palmetto Youth Center.

Knopik’s one-year term as the chair of the Chamber Board began November 1, 2014.

In addition to outgoing Chair Eric Silagy, Past Chairs of the Florida Chamber’s Board of Directors have included: Lars Houmann, President and CEO of Florida Hospital and President and CEO of the Florida Division Adventist Health System; former Speaker of the House Allan Bense; Anthony Connelly, Senior Vice President-Operations, Disney Cruise Line; Marshall M. Criser, III, Chancellor of the State University System of Florida; former Lt. Governor and Senate President Toni Jennings; Steve Halverson, President and CEO of The Haskell company; Susan Story, President and CEO, American Water Works Company.

 

 

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.