Six Legislators in the Panhandle Earned an “A”

The Florida Chamber of Commerce today released the actual grades earned by all members of the House and Senate on the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Report Card. For the panhandle region, six legislators earned “A” grades:

  • Sen. Greg Evers
  • Rep. Doug Broxson
  • Rep. Brad Drake
  • Rep. Mike Hill
  • Rep. Clay Ingram
  • Rep. Jay Trumbull

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. In comparison, 3,384 actual scored votes is approximately 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.

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 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.

Florida Chamber-Backed Bills Save Floridians Money and Improve Florida’s Insurance and Legal Climates

Thanks to the outreach of Florida Chamber members and volunteers, several lawsuit abuse reform bills have passed their committees in the Florida House and Senate. Be sure to send these legislators a thank you note by clicking the appropriate links below. The following is an update on these bills:

Property Insurance Reform – Assignment of Benefits

HB 669 sponsored by Rep. John Tobia (R-Melbourne) and SB 1064 sponsored by Sen. Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange), allows insurance companies to write policies that prohibit the post-loss assignment of benefits or rights other than for purposes of payment. This protects the homeowner by allowing them to maintain the rights of their policy but allows the contractor or subcontractor to be directly paid by the insurer.

This legislation is important to Florida’s business community because the bill:

  • Protects insurers against inflated claims by allowing the homeowner to maintain control of the repair and mitigation process
  • Balances the rights of the homeowner and the insurer when a loss occurs
  • Clarifies that insurers can prohibit the post-loss assignment of benefits as a part of an insurance policy
What’s Next:
  • HB 669- Has one more hearing at the Regulatory Affairs Committee, before being heard on the House Floor
  • SB 1064- Has two more hearings, with the Senate Judiciary Committee up next
Learn More:

Read an article by Rep. David Santiago on how assignment of benefits (AOB) forms are being abused. Send these legislators a thank you note for their hard work on these bills by clicking here.

Lawsuit Abuse Reform – Bad Faith/Fair Settlement

HB 1197 sponsored by Rep. Mike Hill (R-Pensacola) and SB 1088 sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R- St. Petersburg),specifies that the claimant, insured, or third party representing the claimant or insured must provide a written notice as a precedent to bringing a third-party bad faith claim. This will help improve Florida’s costly bottom 10 legal climate.

This legislation is important to Florida’s business community because the bill:

  • Allows insurers to act in good faith prior to a bad faith lawsuit being brought forward
  • Decreases frivolous litigation by trial lawyers
  • Improves Florida’s legal environment under which businesses operate
What’s Next:
  • HB 1197- Has two more hearings, with the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee up next
  • SB 1088- Has three more hearings, with the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee up next
Learn More:

Visit our Legal Reform Page and learn where we stand on this issue. Also, send these legislators a thank you note for their hard work on these bills by clicking here.

Lawsuit Abuse Reform – Accuracy in Damages

HB 1199 sponsored by Rep. Larry Metz (R-Groveland) protects businesses from increased costs by ensuring accuracy in the damages paid in personal injury actions. This reduces “phantom damages” or inflated costs in these personal injury cases by allowing the jury to have information on the actual cost of medical care.

This legislation is important to Florida’s business community because the bill:

  • Ensures payments are made for actual and necessary medical expenses
  • Decreases frivolous litigation by trial lawyers who inflate medical damages to increase costs on businesses so they can receive a higher fee
What’s Next:

•HB 1199- Has one more hearing remaining at the House Judiciary Committee, before being heard on the House Floor

Learn More:

Visit our Legal Reform Page and learn where we stand on this issue. Also, send these legislators a thank you note for their hard work on these bills by clicking here.

Prejudgment Interest

SB 794 would allow interest to be charged on damages from the date the injury or tort occurred, not from the date the legal decision was made. More companies will be forced to settle to avoid increased legal costs as a result of additional interest in a drawn out legal system.

This legislation is bad for Florida’s business because the bill:

  • Further deteriorates Florida’s legal climate and image as a “gotcha” state
  • Increases the cost of personal injury lawsuits, which is already a significant cost to Florida’s employers, by charging interest before a legal decision has been rendered
  • Forces more companies to settle, despite the merit of the claim, to avoid paying interest for ongoing litigation

What’s Next:

  • SB 794- Has three more hearings, with the next hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee
Learn More:

Due to the high response rate from Florida Chamber members and volunteers, this bill has been postponed in the Senate for the third consecutive week.