My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

This Sunday starts Fire Prevention Week, a time when all Floridians should make sure that our families are prepared in the event of a fire. Just like you prepare a hurricane plan, your family should have a fire evacuation plan, too. Every second counts - Fire Prevention WeekThis year’s Fire Prevention Week theme takes it one step further, reminding us that every second counts during a fire, so we should map out two ways to quickly evacuate our homes.

Many American families believe a fire could never, would never happen in their home, to their family. Many see fires as a tragedy that happens to someone else, and as something they only read about in the newspaper. Yet, statistics from the National Fire Prevention Association tell a different story. In 2015, home fires resulted in 2,560 civilian deaths in the USA. In fact, home fire deaths represent 78 percent of all fire deaths that year. Those numbers offer a sobering reminder that we must be prepared to help prevent tragedy.

Now is the time to verify that you have smoke alarms in the common areas of your home, and in each bedroom. It’s also important to check and replace the batteries as needed, and to test each alarm to ensure it’s working. Every household should have a minimum of one smoke extinguisher, including kids away at college. Do you know where your family’s fire extinguisher is at in your home? If not, you should. If you don’t have one, they are reasonable in price and can be purchased at most local hardware stores.

Once you’ve mapped your escape plan, make sure every member of your family is aware of what to do and where to go in the event of a fire, especially your young children. Every parent’s first thought is to get their children to safety, but a dark house can be tough to navigate in the dead of night, so talk about it together as a family.

If you have elderly loved ones, take a trip to visit and help keep them safe. If you’re unable to help in person, many local fire departments across Florida can assist in installing smoke alarms. Look online for assistance, and ask for help when you need it. As Florida’s State Fire Marshal, I want all Florida families to take steps to protect yourselves and the first responders who will rush to your side if tragedy ever strikes. These simple preventive steps can be taken in one afternoon, and they could one day become the difference between life and death.

To learn more about Fire Prevention Week, visit http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/campaigns/fire-prevention-week.

Sincerely,

Jimmy Patronis
Jimmy Patronis
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida


News of Interest

WFSU News: Florida CFO: Urge Lawmakers To Reform AOB
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is urging business leaders to turn up the political heat for insurance reform. Addressing a Florida Chamber Foundation forum in Orlando Wednesday, Patronis said Hurricane Irma underscores the need to crack down on so-called “assignment of benefits” fraud. "At some point, if not addressed, this is going to hit every single pocketbook in the state, it will affect the ability to create jobs, it will affect the ability for homeownership. You know, this is not an environment that grows strong families. Under assignment of benefits, homeowners give repair contractors the right to negotiate directly with insurance companies. Regulators say the practice invites fraud and leads to unnecessary litigation.

WTXL-ABC Tallahassee: Don’t fall for insurance and repair fraud
Ranging from overbilling insurance companies to being unlicensed contractors, scam artists often attempt to take advantage of consumers following a disaster. Many times an insurance policyholder does not understand the paperwork they are signing when repairs begin. In an attempt to spot and stop the fraud, Florida's Department of Financial Services is sending several employees to areas most impacted by Irma, including Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys along with Lee and Collier counties in southwest Florida.

Insurance Journal: Florida to Deploy Anti-Fraud Strike Teams to Areas Hard-Hit by Irma
Anti-fraud strike teams comprised of investigators working for the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Investigative and Forensic Services will soon be deployed across the state in an effort to to protect Floridians from post-storm fraud, according to a statement from the Florida Department of Financial Services. CFO Patronis announced the formation of three teams that will work in areas heavily impacted by Hurricane Irma: South Florida, including Miami-Dade and Monroe counties; Southwest Florida, including Lee and Collier counties; and Central Florida, including Polk and Orange counties.

Treasure Coast Palm: Mobile home residents in Florida’s flood zones without insurance fall through the cracks
Hurricane Irma reduced every home in the Fisherman's Cove trailer park to a mountain of garbage by the sidewalk, leaving only empty structures with demolition notices spray-painted on the side, the smell of sewage and low tide lingering from the storm's flood that engulfed Everglades City. "I was doing OK until this came along," said Wayne Young, 65, who was hauling anything out of his trailer not destroyed by contaminated seawater: the microwave, some old photos, a couple of lamps. Like most mobile home residents here, Young can't afford flood insurance. The federal government doesn't require him to have it because he doesn't pay a mortgage, even though he lives in one of Florida's flood hazard zones.

Miami Herald: What $20 million in alleged food stamp fraud bought these 12 people: prosecution
South Florida reached another fraud milestone for what the Justice Department called “the largest combined financial fraud loss for a food stamp trafficking takedown in history.” That dubious new record, federal prosecutors claim, is $20 million and resulted in a dozen charged with doing the government dirty via food stamp fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. "In this instance, eight small convenience stores in South Florida committed a staggering amount of fraud in a relatively short amount of time," said Karen Citizen-Wilcox, special agent in charge, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Office of the Inspector General, in a release. "These retailers created an illegal benefits exchange system that defrauded the American taxpayer and denied healthy foods to needy children and their families. The store owners who allegedly orchestrated this trafficking scheme pocketed millions in ‘fees’ which they charged for converting food assistance benefits into cash.” Some of the defendants owned, worked at or operated stores authorized to accept Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program payments, known as SNAP. Others worked at stores not authorized, but allegedly used the point-of-sale terminals for stores that were authorized.

Treasure Coast Palm: Congress approves special tax breaks for Harvey, Irma and Maria victims
Hurricane Irma victims will be able to draw from retirement accounts without penalty to pay for repairs, one of several provisions in a tax relief bill Congress passed Thursday. The bill, which also assists those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Maria, won approval 264-155 despite objections by many Democrats who said Superstorm Sandy victims in New Jersey and New York five years ago did not get the same treatment. The Senate bill passed a similar bill without objection later in the afternoon. The tax provisions were combined with a bill both parties wanted to pass to extend through March the authorization for the Federal Aviation Administration, which is due to expire Saturday night.

Three women inducted into the Women's Hall of FameCFO Patronis Keynotes Women’s Hall of Fame Event in Orlando

The Florida Commission on the Status of Women recently inducted the state’s 100th member into Florida Women’s Hall of Fame at a distinguished ceremony in Orlando as a part of the Future of Florida Forum. Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the Hall of Fame honored 2017 inductees Mary Lou Baker (Pinellas County), Kathleen “Scotty” Culp (Satellite Beach), and Katherine Fernandez Rundle (Miami-Dade County) for their significant contributions to the citizens of Florida.Florida Women's Hall of Fame

Joined by their family and friends, inductees were celebrated with commemorative videos and remarks about the legacy of accomplishments and the contributions they made to the lives of people across Florida. Former CFO Jeff Atwater was also on hand for the special occasion.

The evening was anchored with an induction ceremony led by Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis where inductees were awarded with replicas of the plaques that will be placed on the Hall of Fame wall in the Florida Capitol Rotunda, as well as an American flag that was flown over the United States Capitol in their honor.

"Florida’s history is rich with female leaders who have blazed the trail for future generations," said CFO Patronis. "I was proud to help celebrate three new additions to the Women’s Hall of Fame, recognizing three pioneers who have made landmark contributions to our state."Former CFO Atwater and CFO Patronis

Hall of Fame members were selected by Governor Rick Scott from a group of ten nominees selected by the Florida Commission on the Status of Women.

Since its inception in 1982, the Hall of Fame has recognized and honored Florida women who, through their lives and work, have made significant contributions to the improvement of life for all citizens of the state. Some of the notable inductees include former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, singer Gloria Estefan, internationally-honored tennis athletes Chris Evert and Althea Gibson, Pilot Betty Skelton Frankman, Bethune-Cookman College founder Mary McLeod Bethune, Congresswomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Carrie Meek, Tillie Fowler and Ruth Bryan Owen, Florida Trend Publisher Lynda Keever, and Everglades advocate and suffragist Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

CFO Patronis Attends Latin America Summit in Miami

On Monday, CFO Jimmy Patronis joined state, local and industry leaders at the Latin America Summit hosted in Miami by Governor Rick Scott. The summit called together leaders from a wide array of professions, including international trade, human rights and economic development, to increase communication, collaboration and growth opportunities between Florida and Latin American countries.
Click on the image below for larger pictures
.
CFO Patronis pictures at the summit.







Operation S.A.F.E.Operation S.A.F.E., Be Scam Smart Workshop in Davie on October 12

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis invites you to participate in Operation S.A.F.E., Be Scam Smart, a free workshop for seniors, their families, and caregivers.

The Florida Department of Financial Services launched Operation S.A.F.E. (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) as part of CFO Patronis’ On Guard for Seniors initiative. Be Scam Smart workshops help inform, empower, and protect Florida’s seniors from financial scams and fraud. If you want to make sure your savings are protected, register for this workshop and get a better understanding of how scam artists and scams work.

Be Scam Smart by learning more about:

  • How to Spot Fraudulent Behavior – Are you at risk?
  • Common Scams that Target Seniors – Is this too good to be true?
  • How to Fight Identity Theft – Protect, Prevent, Police

Feedback from seniors who attended a Be Scam Smart workshop:

“Really learned a lot of valuable information.” - Jacksonville
“This was a very valuable topic of interest in our present world.” - Arcadia
“I live alone and learned a lot of helpful information that I can share with other seniors.” - Zephyrhills
“As a result of this presentation I will be more aware of what is going on around me.” - Pensacola
“The info was very good and eyes opened more than ever.” - Ormond Beach


Find out more about us in the About Us section or Register for an upcoming event, including the following workshop:

Thursday, October 12th – Davie 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Davie Pine Island Park Multipurpose Center, Cypress Room
3801 S. Pine Island Road, Davie, FL 33328
Register | Directions | Flyer

Please let us know if you would like to request a workshop in your area.

Florida Economic Briefs

Personal income goes up in August
Personal income, a measure of pre-tax income, increased by 0.2 percent nationally in August. This is down from 0.3 percent growth in July, which is partially attributable to Hurricane Harvey.
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

New construction climbs
The number of building permits for new residential construction in Florida increased to 10,803 in August. This represents a 9.2 percent increase over July.
Source: Census Bureau