My Florida C F O

Fellow Floridians:

Legislative Session 2017During this year’s Legislative Session, I am pleased to say that we were successful on several fronts.

Here’s just a few of the bills we’re proud of that will now head to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.

Insurance Rehabilitation and Liquidation – Sponsored by Senator Kathleen Passidomo (SB 730) and Representative Jake Raburn (HB 837)

This legislation clarifies the process that the State of Florida has put in place for times when insurance companies fail financially, and doing so will give consumers the confidence of knowing that someone is on their side.

It specifically outlines the obligations of the failing insurance company to cooperate with Department of Financial Services staff and clarifies the deadlines for debtors to submit claims. By doing so, the Department can better assess the debt owed by the company and prioritize policyholder claims payments using existing funds.

Insurance Fraud – Sponsored by Senator Jeff Brandes (SB 1012) and Representative Holly Raschein (HB 1007)

We have made significant strides in our fight against fraud, and we couldn’t have done so without the partnership of the fraud-fighting units housed within many of Florida’s insurance companies and the dedicated prosecutors who take our cases to trial.

This legislation requires insurance companies to annually report specific information to the Department outlining fraud-related statistics and details. It also requires insurance companies to hold annual anti-fraud training for their investigators and asks that insurance companies develop in-house anti-fraud plans. Lastly, so that I can ensure that prosecutors are addressing workers’ compensation and insurance fraud cases, it creates mandatory reporting for judicial circuits that receive state funds for dedicated insurance fraud prosecutors.

Agency Enhancements – Sponsored by Senator Kelli Stargel (SB 986) and Representative Mike Miller (HB 925)

We pride ourselves on operating as efficiently and effectively as possible, and this bill implements updates that will allow us to continue our mission of becoming the best Department of Financial Services possible.

Several legacy agency enhancements were included in this bill, such as preservation of the Department’s Holocaust Victims Assistance Program, which reunites Floridians with money and items that were stolen from them during the Nazi era; an update to the Boiler Safety Act; language that affords the prompt payment of contractual grants to vendors contracted with the state for goods or services; and clarifies the licensure process for insurance agents in Florida.

Our Department continually strives to improve our processes and hone our techniques so that we are offering the best services to the people of Florida and being the best stewards of taxpayer dollars. I feel that once again we’ve passed legislation that will improve the lives of Floridians, and I am proud of the team for their hard work and dedication.

Sincerely,

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida



State Fire Marshal badgeSFM Atwater Talks Fire Safety Basics During Arson Awareness Week

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, who also serves as Florida’s State Fire Marshal, recognizes May 7-13 as Arson Awareness Week by reminding Floridians to practice basic fire safety.

"Lives are put needlessly at risk, homes are destroyed and acres of land are ruined by this senseless, preventable crime," said CFO Atwater. "As wildfires have ravaged parts of Florida, some started by human intervention, now is the time to focus on this costly, detrimental crime and how we can all do more to stop it."

As summer months approach and Floridians spend more time outdoors, consumers should keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Always douse camp fires with water and never leave until the fire has been completely extinguished
  • Never throw cigarette butts out of a car window or drop them on the grass. Snuff the cigarette out completely and dispose of it properly in an ash tray
  • Never pour out gasoline or other chemicals in a yard or other grassy area
  • Abide by all county and local burn bans and refrain from burning garbage or yard debris

During 2016, the Department of Financial Services’ Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations responded to 3,799 fires across Florida, 1,264 of which were determined to be arson-related. These fires amounted to nearly $30 million in property damage and caused 56 injuries and 25 fatalities.

To report arson, call 1-877-No-Arson (1-877-662-7766). Tips that lead directly to an arrest and conviction may be eligible for a $5,000 reward. Information can be provided anonymously.

Arson Awareness Week in Florida is part of a nationwide initiative to educate the public on the important role of community arson awareness and how it can and does play an important role preventing this dangerous crime.

Florida's Bottom Line graphicInside Florida's Bottom Line

A one-stop shop for the latest news and valuable insight on Florida's economy and financial health, Florida's Bottom Line is CFO Atwater's award-winning quarterly economic magazine and website.

Inside Florida's Bottom Line:

  • Discover Florida's emerging economic and business trends
  • Learn from Florida's top business & community leaders in exclusive guest articles and interviews
  • Gain access to essential small business and consumer resources
  • Visualize key data with unique infographics

Florida’s Bottom Line website reports the latest Florida financial news, with detailed charts showing the trends of Florida's economy and jobs over the past eight years, updated when new stats are released.

Florida Economic Briefs

Small business optimism falls in April
According to the National Federation of Independent Business, small business optimism fell 0.2 percentage points in April. Of the ten components that make up the index, five increased, three decreased, and two were unchanged.
Source: National Federation of Independent Business

U.S. unemployment rate fell in April
The U.S. unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage points to 4.4 percent in April, marking the lowest rate since May 2007. Florida’s unemployment rate for April will be released on May 19.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics