Volume 2, Number 37, September 12, 2005
As the nation continues to pull together to assist the victims of Hurricane Katrina and to rebuild the devastated areas of the Gulf Coast, we also pause to remember the victims of 9/11 and their families. Despite the passage of time, we will never forget the victims of those cowardly attacks on our nation. In the same way our forefathers fought to win our freedom, we must fight against those who threaten to take it away.
As I watched our first responders carry out multiple missions to help our Gulf Coast neighbors overwhelmed by the hurricane, I thought back to the true heroism the New York City police and firemen displayed by charging toward the burning World Trade Center while everyone else ran to safety.
Please join my family and me in praying for the victims of the hurricane and for those working hard to help these folks rebuild their lives and their communities. And also say a prayer to remember the victims of 9/11 and their families, the brave people who valiantly gave their lives in coming to the rescue and for those fighting for freedom in Iraq.
Our nation bands together during difficult and challenging times. We have overcome momentous obstacles throughout our history, and we will do it again.
-- Tom Gallagher
GALLAGHER ANNOUNCES MILLIONS IN POTENTIAL SAVINGS FOR FLORIDA'S SMALL BUSINESSES
Proposed Decrease in Workers’ Compensation Rates Could Save Millions
The National Council on Compensation Insurance has filed an additional 2.7 percent decrease this year in proposed workers’ compensation rates, for a total decrease of 7.2 percent. Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher spearheaded passage of Senate Bill 50A in 2003 that reformed the state's workers’ compensation system, including tougher penalties for workers’ compensation fraud and premium evasion. This year's proposed decrease will be the third consecutive drop in rates since the bill's passage. If the proposed filing is approved by the Office of Insurance Regulation, the cumulative drop in overall rates since 2003 will total 24.3 percent.
“This is exactly why we fought hard for workers’ compensation reform. Lowering rates and cutting costs will save Florida’s small-business men and women an estimated $237 million that can better be used to continue fueling our state’s record economic growth,” Gallagher said. “Today’s news is a vindication for all of us who believe the best way government can grow an economy is by lowering the cost and burden placed on Florida’s small-business owners.”
“I have asked Consumer Advocate Steve Burgess to independently review this filing to see if even greater savings for employers is possible.”
FLORIDA NEEDS A MORE COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO FIGHTING METH
A message from Tom Gallagher, Florida's State Fire Marshal
Methamphetamine, or “meth,” may be the most destructive drug ever to hit Florida.
It destroys the mental and physical health of the user and robs them of all motivation except to get or make more of the drug. As a result, it poses a tremendous safety and health risk to our communities.
The process used to make meth is volatile and the chemicals are deadly to both the user and innocent bystanders, which too often are children.
In August, a convicted sex offender pleaded guilty to operating a meth lab in his Fort Pierce home. Officers found numerous items in his home that were used in the dangerous process of manufacturing the drug.
Detectives with the Division of State Fire Marshal have already responded to more than 30 meth lab fires and explosions in recent months and needed medical treatment from exposure to meth fumes and chemicals.
As we began responding to more of these incidents, we recognized the need for specialized training for law enforcement officers, firefighters and other first responders. This spring, we initiated several meth training programs and are continuing to get requests for more.
In response to this rapidly growing problem, I have proposed an expanded, comprehensive strategy to combat meth, including:
• Creation of a Meth Strike Force: This strike force will assist in response, cleanup and disposal of clandestine meth labs and provide assistance to families destroyed by meth.
• Tougher penalties for meth-related crimes: Upon posting bond, meth manufacturers often return to their labs and start producing again. Bond should be denied for meth producers, both to stop the revolving door and give them an opportunity to get the treatment they need to get off the drug.
• Creation of a Restoring Lives Trust Fund: This fund would provide matching funds for private charities and ministries that collect funds to assist meth users and their children.
I also am proposing penalties for property owners who knowingly fail to disclose that a meth lab was previously found on the premises. Citizens must be made aware of the possible risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals, especially if they have children.
I also want to pursue heightened penalties for injuries to any first responders because of exposure to a meth lab. Legislation, sponsored by Representative Greg Evers, passed this year and enhanced penalties for meth producers who injure a law enforcement officer, but it did not extend to firefighters and other first responders who are also often called to respond to a meth lab. FLORIDA UNVEILS INTERNET PORTAL FOR HURRICANE KATRINA RECOVERY CABINET ACQUIRES 1,651 ACRES WITHIN AIR INSTALLATIONS COMPATIBLE USE ZONE ADJACENT TO NOLF WHITEHOUSE The Governor and Cabinet, in partnership with the US Navy and the City of Jacksonville, preserved 1,651 acres adjacent to Whitehouse Naval Outlying Field (NOLF.) As part of the Northeast Florida Timberlands Florida Forever Project, this acquisition ensures that the threat of incompatible uses will not encroach on NOLF Whitehouse.
FLORIDA UNVEILS INTERNET PORTAL FOR HURRICANE KATRINA RECOVERY
CABINET ACQUIRES 1,651 ACRES WITHIN AIR INSTALLATIONS COMPATIBLE USE ZONE ADJACENT TO NOLF WHITEHOUSE
The Governor and Cabinet, in partnership with the US Navy and the City of Jacksonville, preserved 1,651 acres adjacent to Whitehouse Naval Outlying Field (NOLF.) As part of the Northeast Florida Timberlands Florida Forever Project, this acquisition ensures that the threat of incompatible uses will not encroach on NOLF Whitehouse.