Volume 1 Number 44
November 1, 2004










TEXT VERSION

It seems like just yesterday the world’s eyes were on our state to determine who the next President of the United States would be.  The election of 2000 proved that, if nothing else, every vote counts.  It is important to keep this in mind as we head into this year’s election. 

I believe we live in the greatest state and the greatest country in the world.  As Americans, we enjoy a privilege, endowed to us by our forefathers, which few other nations enjoy:  The ability to freely elect our leaders.  This is a responsibility that is of the utmost importance. 

In the heat of campaign season, we oftentimes get caught up in the maze of political ads, 24-hour news coverage and endless polling data.  We should not lose sight of how lucky we are to be citizens of a free country that allows us to choose our leaders.  To me the essence of an election year is citizens’ coming together peacefully to decide who will represent them on a local, national, and international stage.   

Democracy is spreading rapidly throughout the globe and America is a model for emerging societies in transition.  In order for that model to be effective, it is vital that we participate.  I encourage everyone who is registered to vote to exercise your right. 

The future of this state and of this great nation is in your hands.  I encourage you to not be a passive bystander.  You have a voice that deserves to be heard, and the best way to get people to listen is to participate in the democratic process.  Let’s show the rest of the world what a powerful force democracy can be by fulfilling our responsibility as Americans and casting a ballot on Election Day.

The skyline for November is downtown Lakeland in Polk County.
 


 

 

GOVERNOR, CABINET IMPOSE DEADLINES FOR INSURANCE COMPANIES TO HANDLE CLAIMS

Governor Jeb Bush and members of Florida’s Cabinet approved an emergency rule placing deadlines for insurance companies to assess, process and settle hurricane claims. Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who serves as a member of the state cabinet, commended his fellow members for taking steps to protect Florida’s insurance consumers.

“Floridians who responsibly purchase insurance and pay premiums expect service,” said Gallagher. “Firm deadlines will give thousands of Floridians peace of mind in getting their storm claims handled and set a goal that insurance companies must meet.”

Gallagher requested the emergency rule in response to numerous calls to the department’s hurricane hotline at 1-800-22-STORM from storm victims who have yet to see an adjuster or are waiting for an adjuster to return to do a damage assessment.CONTINUED
 

 

 

 

 

 

Attorney General Charlie Crist, Governor Jeb Bush, Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson present the resolution to Rand Napoli, Division Director of the State Fire Marshal's office.

GALLAGHER HONORS STATE FIRE MARSHAL’S OFFICE DIRECTOR FOR SUCCESS IN PASSING FIREFIGHTER SAFETY

The State Fire Marshal’s Office has many functions – from determining the cause of suspicious fires to developing state fire codes to overseeing the firefighting and rescue missions at the state’s Emergency Operations Center.  In all that the office does, the primary goal is to protect Floridians, including those who answer the call to protect and serve. 

At today’s meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who also serves as Florida’s State Fire Marshal, recognized Rand Napoli, Director of the State Fire Marshal’s Office, for securing agreement on critical new rules to protect Florida’s firefighters.   Last week, the Florida Professional Firefighters’ Association also gave Napoli “The Firefighters’ Hero Award.”    

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STATE-REQUIRED REFUND PLAN NETS $1.7 MILLION

TALLAHASSEE-Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher today announced that more than 1,200 Central Florida residents have received a total of $1.7 million under a refund plan for consumers who paid for various insurance products without their knowledge, during the purchase of an automobile.

“Floridians shopping for a car deserve to be treated fairly and dealt with honestly,” Gallagher said. “Our goal in pursuing a refund program was to make affected car-buyers whole financially and ensure the dealerships were no longer engaging in abusive sales practices.”    CONTINUED
 

 

 

CHILDREN OF FALLEN SOLDIERS RECEIVE COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS

During a ceremony at the United States Southern Command headquarters in Miami, 24 college scholarships were presented to the children of Florida service men and women who lost their lives while bravely fighting in Iraq.  The scholarships were provided through the Florida Prepaid College Foundation Board.

Each child received a four-year university tuition plan, four-year university local fee plan and one-year dormitory plan.  Joining Florida Prepaid College Foundation Chairman Stanley G. Tate in honoring Florida’s fallen soldiers, their families and their children were Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher and General James Hill, Commander, U.S. Southern Command.

“Rebuilding lives after losing a loved one takes courage and support from others,” said Gallagher. “These scholarships will help offset the cost of higher education for the children and spouses of Florida service men and women who bravely risked their lives and died fighting for freedom.”
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OFFICE OF INSURANCE REGULATION DISAPPROVES WORKERS' COMP RATES

Florida Commissioner of Insurance Regulation Kevin McCarty disapproved the latest workers’ compensation rate filing because the decrease in rates was not enough.  McCarty ordered the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) to re-file rates that reflect a larger rate decrease.  

McCarty said that while NCCI does fine work, “I disagree with how they assessed parts of this filing.  The reforms passed by the Legislature have reduced the high rates Florida’s businesses pay to protect their employees.  I have to make sure all savings and costs are properly reflected in this filing, and I just do not believe they have been, ” McCarty said.    CONTINUED