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My Florida C F O
Weekly eNewsletter from Florida's Chief Financial Officer

Dear Fellow Floridian:

On Tuesday, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) released its 2013 Following the Money report, which gave Florida a grade of A-minus for overall transparency based on my Department of Financial Services’ Transparency Florida website. PIRG ranked Florida third in the nation for state government transparency.Following the Money 2013

According to PIRG, "No state made a more dramatic improvement in its letter grade this year than Florida."

Our tireless efforts over the past two years to increase government transparency and accountability for Florida taxpayers have been recognized. Last year, we launched the Florida Accountability Contract Tracking System (FACTS), making the state’s contracting practices transparent for the first time. We have maintained a commitment to improving Transparency Florida by making it more user friendly along with linking to partner sites to provide more information about government spending in Florida. All of these efforts are driven by one objective— to make transparency an inherent part of government in Florida.

We have worked hard to change the culture in Tallahassee by fostering an open government that promotes greater accountability and holds elected officials to a higher standard. This is the yardstick by which we measure the success of our transparency efforts on behalf of our fellow Floridians.

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

As Passover comes to a close, I hope you and your family have had a very happy, blessed, and sweet Passover! May the miracle of Passover live on in our hearts forever. For those who celebrate Easter as I do, may the glory of Easter fulfill your faith and bring you joy. It is a day of renewed hope, a day to leave our doubts behind and strengthen our faith. May you have a happy Easter.

News of Interest

Sun-Sentinel: Income grows 3.2% in Florida in 2012

Reuters: Home prices rise in January, best yearly increase since 2006: S&P

Tampa Bay Times: Florida consumer confidence surprisingly rises

Orlando Business Journal: Florida exports up 3.8% in January

Tampa Bay Times: Blackstone, other investors snap up thousands of Tampa Bay rental homes

South Florida Business Journal: South Florida business incubators offer something for everyone

Legislative Agenda

SB 464 by Senator Flores and HB 263 by Representative Mayfield

Unclaimed Property Electronic Claims Process: authorizes the Department of Financial Services to adopt rules that allow an apparent owner of unclaimed property to submit a claim to the department electronically.

  • SB 464–passed favorably by Senate Banking and Insurance Committee; now in Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee
  • HB 263–passed favorably in House Government Operations Subcommittee; next to House Rulemaking and Repeal Subcommittee

SB 422 by Senator Benacquisto and HB 301 by Representative Mayfield

The Cancer Treatment Fairness Act: requires that an individual or group insurance policy or contract or a health maintenance contract that provides coverage for cancer treatment medications provide coverage for orally administered cancer treatment medications on a basis no less favorable than that required by the policy or contract for intravenously administered or injected cancer treatment medications. The legislation also prohibits insurers, health maintenance organizations, and certain other entities from engaging in specified actions to avoid compliance with this act.

  • On Senate third reading
  • HB 301–passed favorably by House Insurance & Banking Committee; passed unanimously by Appropriations Committee

SB 860 by Senator Galvano and HB 553 by Representative Hager

Workers' Comp Regulatory Reform: revises the duties of state agencies covered by the state risk management program with respect to funding costs for employees entitled to workers’ compensation benefits; revises immunity from liability standards for employers and employees using a help supply services company; revises and deletes penalties for noncompliance relating to duty of employer upon receipt of notice of injury or death; and deletes a requirement that a provision that is mutually agreed upon in any collective bargaining agreement be filed with the Department of Financial Services.

  • SB 860–referred to Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee, Judiciary Committee, and Appropriations Committee
  • HB 553–passed unanimously by House Government Operation Appropriations Subcommittee as a Committee Substitute; now in Regulatory Affairs Committee

SB 1410 by Senator Simmons and HB 883 by Representative Boyd

State Fire Marshal Regulatory Reform: Fire Safety and Prevention; revising and clarifying provisions relating to the authority of the State Fire Marshal.

  • SB 1410–referred to Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, Community Affairs Committee, and Criminal Justice Committee
  • HB 883–passed favorably by House Government Operation Appropriations Subcommittee as a Committee Substitute; now in Regulatory Affairs Committee

Got an Insurance Claims Story to Share?

Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate and the Division of Consumer Services invite you to an Insurance Consumer Forum to share your experiences and voice your concerns with the homeowners insurance claim handling process in Florida. Insurance Consumer Forums

Both the Insurance Consumer Advocate’s office and the Division of Consumer Services work with consumers daily, via Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater’s toll-free Helpline at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (693-5236), to find solutions to insurance claim issues. Policyholders’ testimony gathered during the workshops will be used to push for improvements to the insurance claim handling process.

For more information please visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Division/Consumers , call 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (693-5236)or visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com/ICA.

Printable Forum Flyer

Forums scheduled in April and May:

APRIL23Pensacola 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Pensacola Association of Realtors
107 W. Main Street Pensacola, FL 32502

MAY22WEST PALM BEACH 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches
3200 N Military Trail, Suite 102, Boca Raton, FL 33431

MAY22FT. LAUDERDALE/BROWARD 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors East
1765 NE 26th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33305

MAY23MIAMI/DADE 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Miami Association of Realtors®
700 S. Royal Poinciana Blvd, Suite 400, Miami, FL 33166

MAY23FT. MYERS 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Realtor® Assn. of Greater Ft. Myers and the Beach
4081 Center Pointe Dr, Ft. Myers, FL 33916

CFO’s Top Dimwitted Fraud Criminals

Division of Insurance Fraud Badge

This week Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced the third installment of Florida’s top dimwitted fraud criminals arrested by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF). Although committing fraud is not a laughing matter, these cases serve as a reminder to dishonest Floridians that if you try to cheat the system for your own personal gain, you will be caught and justice will be served.

After receiving a tip on May 17, 2011, that Jason Wayne Daniels, 24, of Niceville, filed a fraudulent workers’ compensation claim, DIF began an investigation into the allegation. The investigation revealed that while employed at Walmart in Niceville, Daniels was found lying on his back in an aisle of the store. A coworker, Eileen Margaret Hogan, 36, Niceville, claimed to have witnessed the slip and fall by Daniels and provided a written statement detailing the incident.

On review of the store video capturing the incident, Hogan and Daniels can be seen observing and discussing a puddle on the floor. A few minutes later Daniels returns, walks around the wet spot several times while looking around, wipes the wet spot on the floor with his foot while looking down the aisle. Seconds later, Daniels is seen faking his fall to the floor. Hogan soon appears at his side and summons help.

Hogan was arrested and was charged with Workers’ Compensation Fraud, a third degree felony. She was convicted on September 26, 2011, and received three years probation. Daniels was arrested and was charged with Workers’ Compensation Fraud, a third degree felony. He was convicted on September 26, 2011, will serve three years probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,717.35.

Anyone with information of suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $275,000 to more than 40 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.

Florida's Bottom Line on Financial Health

Florida Economy 2012

Read the latest issue of Florida's Bottom Line, a quarterly publication about Florida's financial health, to get expert commentary on 2012 and a look at the year ahead.

In between issues visit the companion   website to Florida's Bottom Line to stay updated as new statistics emerge. The website features news and data on jobs and the economy, as well as useful resources for small businesses. Also take a look at our infographic on Florida's Economy 2012 - a visual display of the financial stats for the past year.