Volume 5 Number 27
July 4, 2008

Tomorrow, our country celebrates the 232nd anniversary of our nation’s founding. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed by our forefathers with a bold promise to secure the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.   

As Floridians from the Panhandle to the Keys gather tomorrow to honor our country with parades, picnics, family gatherings and fireworks displays, it is important to celebrate safely. Community-sponsored, professional fireworks offer exciting displays and guarantee your safety.  

CFO Sink, as the State Fire Marshal, is urging Floridians and visitors to remember that all fireworks can be dangerous. Our Web site offers a list of hundreds of state-approved sparklers for an exciting show, located at http://www.myfloridacfo.com/sfm/sparklerindex.htm.

This weekend is a time to reflect on the promises of our forefathers and recognize that we live in a great, free, and prosperous country. Let us also pay special tribute to those who have and are now serving our country in uniform to protect our founders' promise.

Happy Fourth of July!  
 


 

 

Homeowner Selong, Senator Charlie Justice and CFO Sink discuss My Safe Florida Home at the press conference in Pinellas Park.

400,000 INSPECTIONS AND 35,000 GRANTS LATER, MY SAFE FLORIDA HOME SIGN-UPS COME TO AN END

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced that the My Safe Florida Home program will meet the Florida Legislature’s goal of approving 400,000 homeowners for free wind inspections a full year ahead of schedule. The program will cease to take new applications in the next few days.CFO Sink at MSFH press conference.

In 2007, the Florida Legislature directed the MSFH program to provide inspections for at least 400,000 site-built, single-family, residential properties and provide grants to at least 35,000 applicants before June 30, 2009. The popular first-come, first-serve program is averaging over 5,000 new sign-ups a day leading up to today’s announcement and previously met grant goals in May.

“When the Florida Legislature created the My Safe Florida Home program, their intent was to create a culture of mitigation in our state,” said CFO Alex Sink. “Almost half a million homes later, homeowners served by this program are better informed and most are better prepared for the next big storm.” CONTINUED


 


 

CFO SINK AND EMERGENCY MANAGERS URGE FIREWORKS SAFETY THIS FOURTH OF JULY

Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Alex Sink today joined State Emergency Management officials in urging Floridians to observe fire safety rules and follow fireworks laws as they celebrate this Fourth of July.

“As we gather this Friday to celebrate America’s Independence, I urge Floridians and visitors to take the proper fire safety precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones,” said CFO Sink. “All fireworks can be dangerous, and that makes it all the more crucial the public utilize only state-approved fireworks for their celebrations.”

Nearly 10,000 Americans were treated for fireworks-related injuries in emergency rooms last year. In Florida alone, fire departments responded to 137 fires related to fireworks and sparklers, resulting in more than $400,000 in damages during 2007.

“The Fourth of July is a time for Floridians to come together and enjoy family and friends, but unfortunately many end up visiting emergency rooms,” said State Emergency Management Director Craig Fugate. “We want our residents and visitors to celebrate safely this weekend.” CONTINUED


Money-Smart
Idea of the Week

Idea: Get a discount for paying cash for gas 

The next time you fill up your car's gas tank, paying with cash might get you a discount from the gas station.

With gas prices way up, bigger profits are not particularly coming to gas station owners. Station owners must pay a credit card fee of 1.5 percent to 3 percent of the total purchase price when a credit card is used. With the current high gas prices more drivers are paying with plastic and the credit card fees are taken out of station owners' profits.

Discounts of five to 14 cents a gallon are being offering to cash-paying customers at about 500 gas stations in 23 states. Some stations have stopped accepting credit cards altogether.

Cash deals can be found in Arizona, California, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, so far.

Expect more stations to join this plan.  The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) member stores are looking at the discount idea to see what can be done.

To find stations offering cash-payment discounts, call local gas stations, local TV or radio stations or check with web sites like GasBuddy.com,
a consumer advocacy web site that tracks gas prices through the reports of volunteer gas price spotters.

Keep in mind that gas discounts won't save you money if you have to drive more than five miles out of your way to find them.


CFO SINK: PENSACOLA MAN FACING 30 YEARS IN PRISON FOR WORKERS’ COMPENSATION FRAUD

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced the arrest of Melvin Toler, 51, of Toler Concrete, Inc. on June 23 for operating without required workers' compensation coverage.

An investigation on Toler uncovered that he had knowingly avoided his obligation to pay workers’ compensation coverage on employees in his masonry business.

Toler was arrested Monday on second degree felony charges of working without workers’ compensation coverage and knowing violation of a stop-work order. He is currently being held in the Escambia County jail.

If convicted, Toler could face a possible 30 years in prison, $20,000 dollars in fines and restitution of more than $89,000 for the pending second-degree felony charges. CONTINUED


Stay Safe in High Water

Wear an approved personal
flotation device when
working in or around water.

Do not walk in floodwaters.

Supervise children closely. Do
not allow them near high
water, storm drains or other
water hazards.

Observe all hazard warnings
on roads.

Take the recommended
routes—do not try shortcuts.

 

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IN THE WORKPLACE

If you have never experienced a serious emergency in your workplace, you might find it hard to imagine such a thing could happen.  However, every day in job settings something goes seriously wrong.

It could be a fire, fatal injury, flood, earthquake, shooting, hurricane, tornado, chemical spill or another kind of crisis. Whether everyone survives and escapes injury depends on how well they are prepared for an emergency.

Are you prepared to survive a workplace emergency? You should be receiving regular training and practice dealing with the types of emergencies most likely to occur where you work.

The first survival tool is knowledge. You need to know what can go wrong. Are hazardous chemicals stored or transported near your workplace? Is your workplace an essential service or a high-profile setting that could be targeted by terrorists? Are you located in a tornado zone or a natural flood plain?  CONTINUED


Division of Workers’ Compensation

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION TRANSFER SET TO IMPROVE SERVICES FOR INJURED WORKERS

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink commended the Florida Legislature for the successful passage of House Bill 5045. The bill went into effect Monday and transfers the Workers’ Compensation Medical Services Unit from the Agency for Health Care Administration to the Department of Financial Services, Division of Workers’ Compensation. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Ron Reagan (D-Sarasota) and signed by the Governor on June 10, 2008.

“It is imperative that medical treatment is provided effectively and in a manner that allows injured workers to return to work as quickly possible, pays health care providers adequately, and minimizes costs to employers,” said CFO Sink. “With the transfer, the Division’s regulatory ability to effect positive change in the workers’ compensation medical benefit delivery system will be significantly enhanced.”

The Workers’ Compensation Medical Services Unit is responsible for certifying workers’ compensation health care providers and expert medical advisors, ensuring appropriate utilization of medical treatment, resolving disputes from health care providers contesting carriers’ reimbursement decisions, and developing reimbursement manuals for health care providers.

For more information about the Division of Workers’ Compensation, visit http://www.myfloridacfo.com/wc/ or call 850-413-1601. For injured worker assistance, call 1-800-342-1741.