Dear Fellow Floridians:
Governor Rick Scott has signed Florida’s 2014-15 Fiscal-Year Budget, and I am pleased to share with you that it provides our department the resources we requested to enhance
and modernize Florida’s Accounting Information Resource, commonly known as FLAIR. By updating the FLAIR software, which is more than 30 years old, we will be able to significantly increase government transparency and efficiency by providing the public more detailed information about how state agencies are spending taxpayer dollars and how costs for services vary between programs or state agencies.
A total of 258 bills, including the state budget and all of the legislation prioritized by the Florida Department of Financial Services, were passed during the 2014 Florida Legislative Session, led by Florida Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford. One of the significant ways these bills will benefit Floridians is through the creation of a Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights. This much-needed bill of rights will notify Florida homeowners of their rights and responsibilities when filing an insurance claim and give them the confidence that they will be treated fairly during a stressful situation involving their home.
The Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights will be provided to every policyholder who files a claim and will reference current Florida law in order to provide policyholders with information about their rights in the claims process. The bill of rights will also inform policyholders about what they should expect and provide advice on the steps they should take in the claims process.
Additional bills passed during this year's legislative session include a bill to help employers get back to work faster once they have obtained workers' compensation coverage. Other bills will improve administrative processes and consumer services within the Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Services, provide more efficiency for investigations led by the Division of Public Assistance Fraud and improve the Treasury's ability to administer the Security for Deposits Program.
I am very pleased by the bi-partisan support for the legislation prioritized by our department. I am also optimistic Governor Scott will follow up his budget signing by signing our priorities into law and allow us to make Florida more business and consumer friendly as well as a better place to live and raise a family.
I appreciate the dedicated efforts of Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature to improve our state, and I am proud to be able to work with so many leaders dedicated to the betterment of Floridians.
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida
Three Arson Arrests Follow String of Marion County Fires
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater today announced the arrests of Kenneth Beare, Ketrina Cron and a 17-year-old juvenile suspect on arson and burglary charges. The arrests were made following a joint investigation by the Division of State Fire Marshal (SFM) and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office into a string of intentionally set fires in Citra, Florida, located in Marion County.
"I am proud of our investigators and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office for working together to bring swift justice to these arsonists," said CFO Jeff Atwater. "This kind of reckless and illegal behavior will not be tolerated, and I intend to see that they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
In the early morning hours of June 8, an SFM detective was asked to assist in the investigation of a fire at a vacant singlewide mobile home located on NE 40th Terrace in Citra. Before the night was over, a total of four vacant mobile home fires had been identified in the same neighborhood, all between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. When SFM officials began working with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, the suspects were identified.
"The Marion County Sheriff’s Office enjoys a positive working relationship with the State Fire Marshal’s Office and this investigation was an example of a coordinated law enforcement response to criminal activity," said Marion County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Fred LaTorre. "Sheriff Blair and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office are dedicated to the identification and apprehension of criminal perpetrators, and we look forward to an ongoing coordinated relationship with all law enforcement agencies serving the citizens of Marion County, whether they are local, state or federal."
Beare, along with the juvenile suspect, were each charged with four counts of arson and four counts of burglary. Both are held on $80,000 bond. Cron was charged with two counts each of arson and burglary. Her bond was set at $40,000.
Florida Economic Briefs
U.S. unemployment rate 6.3 percent in May
U.S. employers added 217,000 jobs in May, a substantial gain for a fourth straight month, fueling hopes that the economy will accelerate after a slow start to the year.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Small-business optimism hits highest level in over 6 years
The National Federation
of Independent Business’ Small Business Optimism Index increased 1.4 points in May for a final reading of 96.6 – the highest reading since September 2007. May is the third consecutive month of gains.
Bottom Line on Sports
Each year, Florida is host to more than 1,800 professional sports events as
well as thousands of other sporting games and tournaments statewide,
including amateur and college sports, golf, fishing and hunting, boating and
yachting, and motorsports. The innovation spurred by this, and the drive to
create the world’s leading sports systems, are responsible for the
development of new tools and technologies that better connect us, improve
our quality of life, and allow us to explore and experience sports in more
exciting, enriching ways. Inside the Spring edition of
Florida’s Bottom Line, you’ll find expert commentary on
the innovation and advancement happening within the world of sports right
here in Florida.