CFO Atwater Praises Legislature for Passing Measures to Increase Transparency, Consumer Protection and Economic Prosperity
Contact: Anna Alexopoulos
TALLAHASSEE—On the closing day of the 2013 Legislative Session, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater praised legislative leaders for supporting his priorities to increase government transparency and accountability, protect Florida’s consumers, and get government off the backs of hardworking Floridians to foster economic prosperity.
“I commend Florida’s legislative leaders for a successful session,” CFO Atwater said. “As the economy begins to improve, they stayed focused on creating an environment that fosters economic prosperity for Floridians through conservative budgeting, decreasing taxes and reducing regulations.”
Reforms advocated by CFO Atwater that passed this Legislative Session will aid in his mission to make Florida the most transparent state in the nation and foster conditions for economic success for Florida’s businesses and families. Key reforms passed this Session include the following:
State Contracting and Transparency Initiatives (HB 1309 and HB 5401): In an effort to make state contracting processes transparent and accountable to the public, CFO Atwater advocated for reforms supported by the Legislature in HB 1309 that strengthen laws relating to contract and grant agreements so that every dollar sent to Tallahassee is effectively deployed and not a dime of taxpayer money is wasted.
Additionally, the Legislature passed HB 5401, which requires state agencies to post contract information, including contract images, to the CFO’s Florida Accountability Contract Tracking System, and provides the requisite funding to increase government transparency and accountability for Florida taxpayers. All of these efforts were driven by one objective— to make transparency an inherent part of government in Florida.
“Since I took office, we have been fighting to create a state contracting system that is accountable to the public—it is their money—and each year, with the support of the legislature, we get closer to meeting that goal,” CFO Atwater said. “We have worked hard to change the culture in Tallahassee by cultivating an open government that promotes greater accountability. Just as families in Florida are mindful of the money they spend, your government has an obligation to do the same. We will continue to work toward reforms that will protect taxpayer dollars before they are deployed.”
Cancer Treatment Fairness Act (HB 1159): CFO Atwater wishes to thank Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto and Rep. Debbie Mayfield for fighting for cancer patients with conviction and passion. This Legislative Session, he supported this important piece of legislation that provides increased access to life-saving, orally administered cancer treatments and protects patients from having to pay higher out-of-pocket costs for oral cancer medication than for a cancer medication that is administered intravenously.
Fighting for Florida’s Holocaust survivors and heirs (HB 913): The Legislature supported allowing CFO Atwater’s office to facilitate the return of lost property to Holocaust victims and their heirs. The Department of Financial Services will now have the authority to seek restitution for Nazi-confiscated bank accounts, art, and property and assist survivors in receiving needed health benefits.
“These consumer protection measures will help my office fight on behalf of Holocaust survivors and their families to ensure they get every benefit they are due along with ensuring that Floridians who are fighting cancer can focus on beating the disease without added anxiety over whether they can afford the form of treatment recommended by their doctor,” CFO Atwater said.
Automated Unclaimed Property Claims (SB 464): The CFO’s Bureau of Unclaimed Property currently holds accounts valued at more than $1 billion. Through proactive efforts, the CFO has been able to get more money than ever before back in the pockets of hard-working Floridians—more than $447 million since he took office. To continue to improve returns, this Legislative Session the CFO advocated for the unclaimed property claims process to be done electronically. Electronic claims functionality will eliminate the need to manually process about 37 percent of all claims, thereby decreasing the overall processing time and returning money to Floridians more quickly.
“With more than $1 billion of unclaimed property waiting to be claimed, this bill will allow us to work more efficiently to get more of these dollars back into the pockets of their rightful owners,” CFO Atwater said. “Go to www.fltreasurehunt.org
to see if you have unclaimed property—there is a one in four chance we have dollars we are eager to return to you or someone you know.”
Divisions of Workers Comp and State Fire Marshal Regulatory Reforms (HB 553 & SB 1410): As part of CFO Atwater’s commitment to decrease burdensome regulations to foster economic prosperity, the Legislature supported increased efficiency and the elimination of outdated laws in the Divisions of Workers’ Compensation and State Fire Marshal. These reforms achieve needed operational and administrative updates and will simplify compliance for regulated entities.
“As the economy continues to improve, we must keep focused on enacting laws that promote a vibrate economy and financial success for Floridians,” CFO Atwater said. “These measures ensure that the department reaches no further than is necessary to protect the public.”
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include 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.