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

Dear Fellow Floridian:

As I write to you this Friday morning, events are still unfolding surrounding the terrorist attack that occurred on Monday afternoon as dedicated runners crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I continue to pray for those who were killed and injured in Monday’s attack.

Just as they responded on Monday with swift and decisive action, America’s law enforcement professionals are now putting their lives on the line to protect their communities and our country. One officer has been killed this morning and another injured at the hands of these cowards. I know that the dedicated men and women of law enforcement will not sleep until those responsible for these horrific acts are brought to justice.

Our entire nation must keep the City of Boston–all its residents and heroes–in our thoughts and prayers.

Every runner at some point feels they have hit their ceiling, but their spirit pushes them to continue on and finish the race. It is their spirit that gives them the strength to go on just as the indomitable American spirit fuels our resolve. The American spirit will not and cannot be broken.

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

In Support of Tax Parity for Floridians

On Monday CFO Atwater sent a letter to the President and members of Congress asking for their support in making the sales tax deduction on the federal tax return permanent. Through an online petition, Floridians joined in advocating for permanent tax parity. The names of taxpaying Floridians, in support of this effort to ensure Floridians and millions of other Americans are not arbitrarily penalized, were attached to the letter. It is simply unjust that Americans who pay state income taxes enjoy a permanent deduction, but the sales tax deduction for Floridians has to be renewed every few years. For more information visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com/taxparity/.

Florida’s Financial History over 500 Years

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater has released Florida’s Financial History, a new website feature to celebrate Florida’s 500th birthday. The interactive, online application tracks the growth of the state’s diverse economy since Ponce de Leon first discovered “the land of flowers” all the way to the launch of Apollo 11 from Kennedy Space Center.Florida's Financial History celebrated for Viva Florida 500

As a fifth-generation Floridian, CFO Atwater encourages Florida educators to use the online application in their classrooms to supplement lessons in history and economics. After learning about Florida’s financial history, users are invited to browse a library of Florida history books and even test their knowledge with a short quiz.

“We have many reasons to celebrate our rich history and the remarkable people, events and inventions that all led to what makes Florida great today and set us on a path for tremendous economic success in the future,” said CFO Atwater. “This application is intended to inspire our youth to think boldly, like those who came before us did, and to work toward making their dreams a reality.”

The Florida Financial History application was created by the Department of Financial Services, and is part of CFO Atwater’s Your Money Matter$ initiative. The application traces the development of transportation, agriculture, tourism, technology and some of the people and events that drove Florida’s economic growth.

Please visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com/YMM to view Florida’s Financial History and learn more about the great state we call home.

News of Interest

The Independent Florida Alligator: UF’s business incubator awarded ‘best in the world’

South Florida Business Journal: Diaz Supermarkets owners accused of $35M fraud

Orlando Business Journal: Florida ranked one of the best for parent involvement in education

Orlando Business Journal: 2013 spring training sets records

Los Angeles Times: South Florida Sun Sentinel wins Pulitzer

Miami Herald: Tech hub movement gains steam with calls to action

Orlando Business Journal: Northrop, Lockheed among top tech companies hiring for $60,000+ jobs

Arrests in ‘Operation Dirty Money’ Scheme

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced the arrests of John Diaz, 45, Pinecrest, for money laundering, organized scheme to defraud (first-degree felonies), multiple money service business violations (second-degree felonies), and two counts of workers’ compensation fraud (both third-degree felonies) and Mercedes Avila-Diaz, 44, Pinecrest, for two counts of workers’ compensation fraud (both third-degree felonies).

A Workers’ Compensation Fraud Task Force investigation revealed that a total of $35 million in fraudulent transactions occurred at Diaz Supermarkets, a licensed money service business, owned and operated by Diaz since 2006. As a result of the search warrants executed in Miami-Dade County at four Diaz Supermarkets locations and one administrative office, a total of $640,000 was seized in forfeiture along with three vehicles.

The investigation also revealed that Diaz and Avila-Diaz jointly owned and operated Diavila Enterprises, Inc., which was advertised as a tax preparation company, since 2003. This company had been operating for nearly 10 years without the required workers’ compensation coverage, a third-degree felony.

Diaz and Avila-Diaz collectively face up to 95 years in prison if convicted on all counts. The Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s office will be prosecuting this case.Division of Insurance Fraud Badge

The Office of Financial Regulation assisted the task force by providing financial data support and licensure information and has played an integral part in helping the task force put these criminals behind bars. The Miami-Dade County Police Department also assisted with arrests.

The Workers’ Compensation Fraud Task Force includes CFO Atwater’s Division of Insurance Fraud, the Broward Sheriff’s Office and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Through joint efforts, the task force has been able to successfully shut down more than 30 shell companies and identify $335 million in fraudulent transactions associated with these companies.

Anyone with information about these or any other incidents 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.

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 Legislature April 18
  • HB 263–Laid on Table; Refer to SB 464

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.

  • SB 422–Passed Senate April 4; in messages to House
  • HB 301–Passed favorably by all committees of reference; placed on House Calendar, available for Special Order

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–On Senate Appropriations Committee agenda for April 23
  • HB 553–Passed House April 17; Messaged to Senate & received by Senate April 18

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–Passed favorably by all committees of reference; placed on House Special Order Calendar for April 24
  • HB 883–Passed favorably by all committees of reference; placed on House Calendar, available for Special Order

Florida's Bottom Line Shows Transparency

Florida's Bottom LineTechnology has revolutionized government accountability by enabling the public to have unprecedented and easy access to government data.

Florida has taken advantage of this opportunity by publishing state spending data online. Whether taxpayers are looking for information about past budgets, proposals for this year’s budget or the state’s payroll, it can all be accessed via the Internet. Additionally, since 72 percent of the state’s budget is spent in the form of a contract, it is critical that taxpayers can inspect public contracts.

The Department of Financial Services began publishing the details of contracts online last year through the Florida Accountability Contract Tracking System (FACTS), and you can use this tool to take a critical look. Because of this commitment over the past two years to increasing accountability and transparency in government for Florida taxpayers, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) gave Florida an A-minus this year for overall transparency based on the DFS Transparency Florida website, which houses FACTS.

In this edition of Florida’s Bottom Line, you will also find information about ongoing efforts to continue making government in Florida more open and ethical. This includes articles from Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford, who discuss their initiatives on page 8. Additionally, the Florida Foundation for Government Accountability and the First Amendment Foundation provide commentary on how Florida can continue improving in the future.

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