Volume 3 Number 41
October 9, 2006

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In 2002, I made a commitment to improve Florida's workers' compensation system to help our state's employers and their employees.

I'm proud to say that workers’ compensation insurance rates have dropped more than 30 percent over the last three years while the amount of premiums collected – an indication both of Florida’s robust economy and employer compliance – are at an all-time high.  In fact, annual premiums collected have grown by more than $700 million over that same time period.

Meaningful reforms, more aggressive investigation of workers’ compensation fraud and increased compliance efforts have led to a dramatic  $1 billion in savings for Florida’s businesses.  

Improving Florida's business climate means more and better jobs for our residents, and improved access to products and services.

Kudos to the hardworking men and women in the department who have helped achieve these results.


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FLORIDA CABINET DESIGNATES FIRE PREVENTION WEEK, HONORS YOUTH WHO SAVED WOMAN FROM HOME FIRE

Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 8-14, Will Focus on Cooking Incidents
As Leading Cause of Home Fires


Governor Jeb Bush, State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher and the other members of the Florida Cabinet designated the week of Oct. 8 to14 as Fire Prevention Week in Florida and kicked off activities by honoring a young man from Navarre who, along with two other friends, helped rescue a 64-year-old woman from a home fire in July.

Tyler McArthur, 16, was presented the Cabinet’s resolution proclaiming next week as Fire Prevention Week. Early in the morning on July 5, Graves and two of his friends spotted flames and smoke coming from the garage of a home on Longview Street. They pounded on the door until a woman answered and then pulled her out to safety. Holley-Navarre Fire Department Chief Les Slocum also attended today’s Cabinet meeting. The State Fire Marshal’s Office determined the fire likely was caused by an electrical short in the attic.

“These young men saved a life because of their quick and brave actions,” Gallagher said. “But tragically hundreds of Floridians are killed or injured every year by fire because they don’t have a working smoke detector or a fire escape plan.” CONTINUED


 

 
 

GALLAGHER ANNOUNCES ARRESTS IN THREE SEPARATE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION FRAUD CASES

Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, has announced the arrests of three individuals in Central Florida on workers’ compensation fraud charges, including one employer who did not have coverage for a worker who died after falling from a high-rise construction project.

Harry M. Zeigler, 42, president of Zeigler Concrete & Reinforcing, Inc., (Zeigler) located in Chuluota, surrendered Thursday on charges of knowingly omitting or concealing material information for the purpose of avoiding, delaying, or diminishing the amount of workers’ compensation premiums due. The charges stem from an investigation led by Det. Greg Whipple of the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF).

“We are determined to ensure that employers comply with the law and that appropriate action is taken against those who do not,” said Gallagher, who oversees the department. “Compliance is critical for the welfare of our workforce and the economy of this state.”
CONTINUED


 
 

CFO Gallagher presents the check for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami to , assisted by Liza McFadden of Volunteer Florida Foundation

 

 
 
GALLAGHER ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIPS WITH NON-PROFITS TO STRENGTHEN HOMES AGAINST HURRICANES

4,000 Low-Income Homeowners to be Served

Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced that 4,000 low-income homeowners will soon be safer from hurricanes thanks to new partnerships between 12 non-profit organizations and the My Safe Florida Home program.  Through the partnerships, homeowners will receive free home inspections and assistance to make improvements that will strengthen homes against catastrophic losses.

 “Partnering with faith- and community-based groups to help fortify low-income homes in Florida is mission critical to protecting families and reducing property losses,” said Gallagher, who oversees the My Safe Florida Home program.  “Through these partnerships, we will be able to leverage resources and help thousands of Floridians before the end of this hurricane season.” CONTINUED


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“FORTIFY FLORIDA!” BRINGS PREPAREDNESS HOME TO PALM BEACH

Florida Atlantic University and Florida Power & Light host town fair to help homeowners harden homes against hurricane damage and reduce cost of insurance
       

Lt. Governor Toni Jennings, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, FPL President Armando Olivera and FAU President Frank Brogan announced Fortify Florida: Palm Beach Prepares!, the third in a series of town fairs around the state to provide homeowners with a one-stop-shop of information about hardening their homes against hurricanes and reducing their insurance premiums.  Insurance companies, home improvement stores, emergency managers, non-profit organizations and other government and private-sector partners are participating in the town fairs, which are free and open to the public.  The town fair is scheduled for Saturday, October 14th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Florida Atlantic University Arena, "The Burrow," 777 Glades Road in Boca Raton. CONTINUED


 

LT. GOVERNOR JENNINGS PROMOTES ENERGY-EFFICIENT PRODUCTS DURING SALES TAX HOLIDAY THROUGH OCTOBER 11

Tax-free week encourages Floridians to purchase ENERGY STAR™ products

Lt. Governor Toni Jennings joined Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Colleen M. Castille, the Florida Retail Federation and executives of the Home Depot at the Home Depot in Tallahassee to promote energy efficient products during this year’s sales tax holiday. Designated as Energy Efficient Week, the holiday suspends the sales tax for ENERGY STAR™ products and appliances.

“Energy Efficient Week encourages consumers to invest in energy efficient products at a great savings,” said Lt. Governor Jennings. “By encouraging investment through grant programs and incentives, Florida is supporting market-based development of energy efficient products and reliable and cost-effective energy alternatives.” CONTINUED


 

 

 

FLORIDA MAINTAINS “AAA” BOND RATING IN ANNUAL REVIEW BY STANDARD AND POOR’S CORPORATION

Governor Jeb Bush touted Standard and Poor’s Corporation’s decision to affirm Florida’s “AAA” bond rating in its annual review of the state.  “AAA” is the firm’s highest rating.  Standard and Poor’s cited Florida’s strong, conservative financial and budget management practices in affirming the “AAA” rating, first issued in 2005. 

“Undaunted by eight hurricanes in two years, Florida’s economy is surging. I am pleased to see that Standard and Poor’s has recognized that our low-tax, pro-business approach to government is working for Florida,” said Governor Bush.  “Our reasonable tax structure and record-level financial reserves have also helped to create stability and opportunities for long-term growth, as evidenced by this rating decision.”

Florida’s strong financial position has enabled the state to increase funding for economic development and provide tax relief to residents and businesses.  Florida’s unemployment rate is 3.3 percent, 1.5 percentage points below the national rate of 4.8 percent.  The state continues to be a national model for job creation with an annual job growth rate that is more than twice the national average. CONTINUED