Dear Fellow Floridians:
Every year, I look forward to working with the Legislature in an effort to
increase efficiencies and keep more money in the pockets of hard-working
Floridians. The 2014 Legislative Session began last week, and this year I am
focusing on ensuring consumer rights and protections, reducing regulatory
burdens and fighting fraud.
Ensuring Consumer Rights and Protections
I have listened to residents throughout the state on issues facing them as
insurance consumers. Their feedback, along with input from our department’s
Division of Consumer Services and the Office of the Insurance Consumer Advocate,
has led to the creation of Senate Bill 708, sponsored by Senator Aaron Bean, and
House Bill 759, sponsored by Representative George Moraitis, which enhance
consumer protections, improve standards and provide greater transparency to the
Among the several ways these bills help consumers is the creation of a
Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights. These rights will be provided to every
policyholder who files a claim and will reference current Florida law regarding
claims handling in order to provide the policyholder with information about
their rights in the claims process. The bill of rights will also inform
policyholders of what they should expect and provide advice on the next steps
they should take in the process.
Enacting Regulatory Reforms
Since taking office, I have had every division within our department undergo
regulatory reviews that ensure laws, rules, policies and procedures are meeting
the needs of regulated industries without being overly burdensome or
unnecessarily complex. Senate Bill 1210, also sponsored by Senator Bean, and
House Bill 633, sponsored by Representative Clay Ingram, are the latest steps
toward ensuring that the efficiency needs of regulated entities are being met
without being overly burdensome or unnecessarily complex by improving
administrative processes and customer service within the Division of Insurance
Agent and Agency Services.
The Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Workers’
Compensation has also reviewed the Stop-Work-Order process with the goal of
getting employers back up and running again more quickly after a stop-work order
has been issued, while continuing to encourage employer compliance and
maintaining employees’ protection. Senate Bill 444, sponsored by Senator Bill
Galvano, and House Bill 271, sponsored by Representative Travis Cummings,
propose steps to make this possible in a way that meets employee and employer
Additionally, Senate Bill 564, sponsored by Senator Garrett Richter, and
House Bill 7009, sponsored by Representative George Moraitis, will improve the
Division of Treasury’s ability to manage, control and report regulatory
collateral deposits. This division administers Chapter 280, known as the
“Florida Security for Public Deposits Act.” This is a statewide program that
protects public deposits of the state and governmental units from loss due to
failure of a financial institution. Chapter 280 has not been significantly
updated since 2003 and is outdated with respect to current practices. This
legislation proposes to make necessary updates.
Enhancing the Fight Against Fraud
Currently our department’s Division of Public Assistance Fraud (PAF)
investigators do not have the authority to issue subpoenas for business and
education records that are necessary for public assistance fraud investigations.
Instead, investigators must request that state attorneys issue subpoenas, which
can be time consuming for PAF and for the state attorney offices. Senate Bill
308, sponsored by Senator Jeff Brandes, and House Bill 171, sponsored by
Representative Jose Diaz, will bring PAF in line with the other DFS
investigatory divisions and provide greater efficiency in its processes.
I am grateful for the input and support I receive everyday from Floridians
about fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government; reducing
government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses; and
providing transparency and accountability in state spending. I am also grateful
for the legislators who are working with us on these efforts, which will make
our state more consumer and business friendly.
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida
Florida Economic Briefs
U.S. unemployment rate rises to 6.7 percent in February; economy adds
The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent in
February from 6.6 percent a month earlier as businesses added 175,000 jobs. The
largest job gains were in professional and business services and in wholesale
trade, while the information sector lost jobs. The civilian labor force
participation rate (63 percent) was unchanged in February.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Small business optimism drops in February; however, business owners
report wage increases
The National Federation of Independent
Business reported that its Small Business Optimism Index for February dropped
2.7 points to 91.4, ending three months of consecutive gains. Nonetheless, a net
23 percent of small business owners reported paying higher compensation, the
best reading since 2008.
Source: The National Federation of Independent Business
Explore the latest edition of
Florida’s Bottom Line. Inside, you’ll find expert insight on
Florida’s economy, finances, workforce and housing market in the year ahead.