Volume 5 Number 18
May 2, 2008
Today was the last day of the 2008 Legislative Session, known as Sine
Die. During the last 60 days, elected officials from across our state
struggled to balance a state budget with decreased revenues.
Financial Officer Alex Sink worked with legislators throughout the session
to pass laws that protect Floridians, including bolstering penalties for
fraudulently selling annuities to seniors, requiring better training for
public adjusters while regulating fees, and improving the My Safe Florida
Home hurricane mitigation program.
Floridians still face $28 billion in hurricane risk in the event of a
catastrophic storm. CFO Sink will continue to urge fiscally responsible
legislation to reduce the risk of hurricane assessments on Florida’s
families and businesses.
CFO SINK & INSURANCE CONSUMER ADVOCATE ON PASSAGE OF PRO-CONSUMER PUBLIC
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and interim
Insurance Consumer Advocate Terry Butler applauded the Legislature’s passage
of the important public adjuster reforms within Senate Bill 2012. CFO Sink’s
Department of Financial Services licenses and regulates public adjusters,
who are retained by policyholders to assist in preparing, filing and
adjusting insurance claims.
The reforms arose out of the Task Force on Citizens Property Insurance
Claims Handling and Resolution, which is managed by the Office of the
Insurance Consumer Advocate and chaired by State Senator Mike Fasano (R-New
Port Richey). Originally sponsored by Sen. Fasano and State Representative
Julio Robaina (R-Miami), the reforms limit the contingency fees charged by
adjusters, prohibit intrusive solicitation practices, and require that a
person must work as an apprentice under the supervision of a licensed public
adjuster for one-year before being eligible to be licensed as a public
“These reforms will better protect Floridians who have suffered losses after
a hurricane and are trying to rebuild and restore their lives and homes,”
said CFO Sink, who oversees the Office of the Insurance Consumer Advocate.
“I am thankful we were able to increase protections for consumers who need
help in the wake of a hurricane.”
“I am very pleased that Floridians will see greater protection with the
passage of these reforms generated by the Citizens Task Force members,” said
interim Insurance Consumer Advocate Terry Butler. “These new laws will
benefit homeowners who need the help of a public adjuster to settle their
STATEMENT BY CFO SINK ON THE LEGISLATURE’S PASSAGE OF THE ANNUITY FRAUD
Legislation Targets Agents Using Predatory Annuity
Practices Against Seniors
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink congratulated members of the
Florida Legislature for passing legislation (SB 2082) that seeks to combat
annuity fraud, including strengthening fines against agents who target
Floridians using fraudulent annuities sales practices. The legislation also
makes it a third degree felony to submit a fraudulent signature, prohibits
agents from using fake designations to falsely imply financial expertise,
and clarifies and strengthens suitability requirements that agents must meet
when selling an annuity to a consumer.
“This legislation represents a good first step. We were able to increase
protections for seniors and punish agents who commit financially devastating
crimes. That said, I’m disappointed that we were unable to make it a felony
to intentionally deceive a senior into an inappropriate annuity product. And
I’m not going to rest until we’re able to put unscrupulous agents that prey
on our seniors behind bars.”
MY SAFE FLORIDA HOME PROGRAM ANNOUNCES HIGH CUSTOMER
SATISFACTION BEFORE HURRICANE SEASON 2008
Survey Highlights Customer Service,
Savings, & Ease of Mitigation Program
Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink released survey results
from Floridians participating in the My Safe Florida Home (MSFH)
program showing 97 percent of homeowners rate the
application process as easy or somewhat easy, 80 percent
rate their overall experience as excellent or good, and 82
percent of respondents say they are willing to recommend the
program to neighbors as hurricane season draws closer.
“One year ago, we reorganized the My Safe Florida Home
program to help Floridians harden their homes against
hurricane damage,” said CFO Sink. “I’m pleased that hundreds
of thousands of Floridians are working with the program to
build a culture of mitigation in our state.”
The My Safe Florida Home program, re-launched by Chief
Financial Officer Alex Sink in April 2007, has provided more
than 214,100 free wind inspections to Floridians.
Participating homeowners receive a wind inspection report,
which suggests ways homeowners can harden their homes
against storm damage and informs homeowners if they are
currently eligible to save money on their wind insurance
CFO ADDRESSES BLUE KEY IN GAINESVILLE; IS INDUCTED AS AN HONORARY MEMBER
Financial Officer Alex Sink delivered the keynote speech this week to
the Florida Blue Key Installation and Initiation Banquet at the
University of Florida. Florida Blue Key is one of the state's oldest
and most prestigious leadership societies. CFO Sink challenged the new
student leaders to stand up for their University and the importance of
higher education in Florida. "There is no better investment for the
future of Florida's economy than for us to invest in our state's higher
education system," CFO Sink said. "The members of Florida Blue Key must
make their voices heard on this issue."
began her remarks by noting that Senator John Kennedy gave they keynote
address to the students in Florida Blue Key over fifty years ago. It
was October 18, 1957, a few weeks after the Russians successfully
launched Sputnik 1 into space. It was the beginning of the Space Race,
the height of the Cold War, and a time of great uncertainty in our
John Kennedy left Gainesville in the fall of 1957 and went on to become
the first Catholic elected President of the United States of America"
CFO Sink said. "Today, in 2008, history will be made when the
Democratic party will nominate either the first woman or the first
African American as a candidate for President of the United States. Few
people would have dreamed that was possible the night Kennedy came to
speak here fifty years ago. But Kennedy understood that with your
education comes a responsibility to take your gifts, your passion, and
your commitment to others and to serve your common man." CFO Sink
commended the students at the University of Florida for being "engaging
in public service and the issues of the day in a way we haven't seen in
this country since John Kennedy's election to President in 1960."
After her remarks, CFO Sink was inducted as an honorary member of
Florida Blue Key. Other honorary initiates included Jane Adams, Senator
JD Alexander, Governor Charlie Crist, Representative Bill Galvano,
Marion Hoffman, Hjalma Johnson, Judge Manuel Menendez Jr.,
Representative Bryan Nelson, Justice Barbara Pariente, Representative
Joe Pickens, Ken Plante, Senator Bill Posey, Representative Franklin
Sands and Representative Ray Sansom.
CFO SINK CELEBRATES FLORIDA HISTORY FAIR DAYS AND CLAY COUNTY
CFO Alex Sink welcomed Clay County Schools’ 41 Florida
History Fair competitors, middle and high school students, to Tallahassee
for Florida History Fair Days May 1-3, 2008. The CFO spoke to the students
about the importance of history and its ongoing role in government and
public service. Clay County celebrates its sesquicentennial—150th birthday
in December 2008.
The CFO also spoke with the group about the importance of financial literacy
and learning to manage their money now as they prepare for college. She
encouraged the group to consider the diversity of jobs available in public
service and include those opportunities in planning for their careers.
More than 850 middle and high school students will be competing in
Tallahassee to represent Florida at the National History Fair Competition in
Washington, D.C. in June. The competition is being held at Tallahassee
Community College and is open to the public from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. on May 2,
2008, where hundreds of entries will be on display. Approximately 30,000
students in 25 counties participated in local and county level competitions,
narrowing the field to those competing this week in our state’s Capitol.
CFO SINK ENCOURAGES FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
TO PARTICIPATE IN 2008 NATIONAL FINANCIAL LITERACY CHALLENGE
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink today
encouraged Florida high school students and teachers to participate in
the 2008 National Financial Literacy Challenge (NFLC), available online
until May 16, 2008. The President Advisory Council on Financial Literacy
prompted the U.S. Department of Treasury to encourage financial literacy
education among students by enacting the NFLC competition.
“Financial literacy education is essential for our high school students
to be prepared with the necessary knowledge to be successful in life,”
said CFO Sink. “I encourage Florida’s high school teachers to register
their students for this exciting and important national challenge.”
Florida high school students at least 13 years of age are eligible to
participate in a 35-question financial literacy test, as part of a
national challenge aimed at raising awareness about financial literacy
Participants scoring in the top 25th percentile will receive national
recognition from the federal government and the top scores will win the
NFLC challenge award.
The test is available at no cost online at
High school teachers must first register their class at the above link
before their students are eligible to participate.
CFO Sink has long been a strong proponent of financial literacy, and
oversees Florida’s Financial Literacy Council. Through regional outreach
coordinators, her Department of Financial Services (DFS) aggressively
educates consumers in their local communities on topics such as the wise
use of credit cards, identity theft, hurricane preparedness, small
business security, life insurance policies and first-time homebuyer
workshops. During 2007, DFS conducted more than 2,680 outreach events
around the state.
For more information on CFO’s financial literacy efforts or the
Financial Literacy Council, please visit
CFO SINK'S OFFICE PARTICIPATES IN NATIONAL MEETING ON
CLIMATE RISK TO FLORIDA'S COASTS
Representatives for CFO Sink participated in a national meeting this
week on the risks that climate change pose to Florida's costal
residents. The meeting, Resilient Coasts, sponsored by the Heinz Center
and Ceres, brought together government officials, insurers, banks,
developers and catastrophe models to talk about the effects climate
change will have on costal cities in the United States.
talked about lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina, and the need for
Floridians to take steps to harden their homes against hurricanes and
the sea level rise associated with climate change. The Resilient Coasts
working group will meet again this year to develop an action plan and
policy recommendations for coastal communities.
Left to right: Ben Diamond, Special Counsel to the CFO,
Susan Watts, Bonita Bay Group, Kathy Baughman McLeod, Deputy Chief of
Staff to the CFO, and Brian Lucas, Bonita Bay Group, attended the
Ceres conference in Boston, Massachusetts.
Kathy Baughman McLeod represented CFO Alex Sink as a panelist in an
insurance workshop titled Models Wanted : How insurance catastrophe
models can help business and government plan for climate change
Climate change brings a wide array of geographic risks, from sea level rise
to drought. While the public and private sector are working more than ever
to limit the extent of climate change, business and government are
increasingly aware that some degree of climate change is inevitable and will
pose increasing risks to populations and investments.
With representatives from insurance, reinsurance, cat modeling, banking and
government, the workshop explored how different sectors are preparing for
climate change, including emerging adaptation models that combine
traditional catastrophe models with climate data. These new models not only
characterize risk under existing conditions, they also test adaptation
options--including infrastructure investments, building codes and land use
scenarios--and are increasingly in demand in both the public and private
Idea of the Week
Idea: How to Save
Money on Gas
With the high price of fuel
these days, many people have had to stretch their budgets to get around.
There are ways to get better gas efficiency by making a few changes in your
Maintain your car properly. A vehicle that runs smoothly uses less
gas than one that is poorly maintained. Regular oil changes, air filter and
other recommended maintenance will help to give you a fuel-efficient
vehicle. Keep your tires properly inflated; it will make a difference in
your fuel economy.
Improve your driving habits.
Carpool to work; take turns
driving to save gas.
Don't drive during rush
hour. Traffic jams and stop-and-go driving are easy ways to waste gas.
Minimize idling. One of the
worst offenders, idling gets zero miles per gallon. If you are going to
idle for a minute or less, leave your car on, but longer than a minute
turn your car off.
Drive more slowly. Driving
the speed limit is more fuel efficient than speeding.
Accelerate and brake easily.
Driving aggressively is bad for fuel economy, especially fast starts and
Use cruise control. It has
been proven to save gas as it reduces heavy acceleration and heavy use
of the brake. A steady driving speed will improve fuel economy.
Group errands together. Run
all of your errands in one day, and plan an efficient route to minimize
Remove excess weight.
Driving with more stuff in your car drags the car down and requires more
fuel so lighten your load.
Don’t top off your gas tank.
Putting in more after the tank is full is a waste of gas.
Park in the shade. A hot car
evaporates gas and more gas is used to cool down a hot car.
Don't buy hot gas. Buy gas
when it is cool during the morning or evening hours; hot gas expands and
you will end up with less in your tank.
For more financial
savings tips click here:
"TAKE YOUR KIDS TO WORK" DAY PICTURES FROM
CFO SINK'S DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL SERVICES
|STIMULUS PAYMENT SCHEDULE
Direct Deposit Payments:
If the last two digits of your Social Security number are, your
economic stimulus payment deposit should be transmitted to your bank
00 – 20 May 2
21 – 75 May 9
76 – 99 May 16
If the last two digits of your Social Security number are, your
check should be in the mail by:
00 – 09 May 16
10 – 18 May 23
19 – 25 May 30
26 – 38 June 6
39 – 51 June 13
52 – 63 June 20
64 – 75 June 27
76 – 87 July 4
88 – 99 July 11
IRS RELEASES STIMULUS PAYMENTS AND PAYMENT SCHEDULE
Transfers of economic stimulus payments began this week for Americans who
specified the money be delivered by direct deposit to their bank accounts,
officials at the Internal Revenue Service announced.
The first paper checks will be mailed starting May 9. People who chose
direct deposit will receive their economic stimulus payments the quickest.
The IRS is issuing payments
of up to $600 ($1,200 for married couples) plus $300 for eligible children
younger than 17, throughout the spring and summer. The first wave of
payments will go to people who opted for direct deposit on their 2007 income
There are many people who are eligible for an economic
stimulus payment who have not yet filed a tax return. IRS officials
indicated that retirees, disabled veterans and others who normally do not
file a tax return still have until Oct. 15 to submit a 2007 return to
receive a stimulus payment this year. Individuals who have no tax
filing requirement but who have at least $3,000 in qualifying income should
file Form 1040A. Qualifying income includes any combination of earned
income, nontaxable combat pay or certain payments from Social Security,
Veterans Affairs and Railroad Retirement. Use direct deposit to get your
The sequence of payment deliveries is being done according to the last two
digits of the individual's Social Security number. For direct deposits, if
your number ends in 00 to 20, the funds should be transmitted to your bank
by May 2, provided your 2007 tax return was filed and the IRS processed it
prior to April 15. All such transfers should be made by May 16.
Paper checks will be distributed from May through July according to a
similar schedule. Individuals who did not submit a return in time for it to
be processed by April 15 may see their stimulus payments later than the
scheduled dates, the IRS said.