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CFO Atwater Celebrates 2016 Legislative Successes


Contact: Ashley Carr
(850) 413 – 2842
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As Sine Die arrives and the 2016 Legislative Session comes to a close, CFO Jeff Atwater today celebrates the Department of Financial Services’ collective legislative successes as a session for the consumers.  In addition to championing public policy changes involving divestment, balance billing and life insurance, the Department also achieved legislative changes that update the state’s workers’ compensation system, protect the privacy of criminal investigators, and streamline the way the Department does business.

“This year, we brought forth several common sense solutions to help streamline the way the Department and the state conduct business, and I’m proud to say that we were successful on every front,” said CFO Atwater. “I greatly appreciate the dedicated legislators who sponsored our priorities that allow us to improve the Department and better serve Floridians and look forward to these bills becoming law”.

This year’s legislative package included:

• SB966/HB 1041 to hold insurance companies accountable for paying out life insurance – Sponsored by Representative Hager and Senator Benaquisto, this bill requires life insurance companies to consult the Social Security Death Master File, which would alert them to deceased policyholders to pay benefits to the beneficiary
• SB1442/HB 221 to protect consumers from surprise medical bills – Sponsored by Representative Trujillo and Senator Garcia, this bill holds consumers harmless in times of emergency resulting in the consumers responsibility being comparable to what they would have paid had the provider been in their network
• SB 7028/ HB 4049 to prevent state dollars from being invested in Iran – Sponsored by Representative Combee and Senator Ring, in response to federal policy changes, this bill reaffirms Florida’s commitment to keep state dollars from funding state sponsors of terror in Iran.
• SB 908/HB 879 to improve Department efficiency – Sponsored by Representative Lee and Senator Renner, this bill establishes a Division of Unclaimed Property and grants the Department authority to make structural changes that will improve the way the Department provides services to the people of Florida.
• SB 970/HB 783 to update the Unclaimed Property Program – Sponsored by Representative Trumbull and Senator Richter, this bill simplifies the process for heirs to file claims on accounts belonging to deceased loved ones, enhances disclosure requirements to better enable consumers to make an informed decision regarding whether or not to use the services of a claimants representative when filing a claim, and limits the fees a claimants representative can charge when those services are used.
• SB 992/HB 651 to establish a firefighter grant program – Sponsored by Representative Beshears and Senator Brandes, this bill establishes a grant program to provide support and resources to volunteer and combination volunteer/career fire departments. Grant rewards will be based on the Florida Fire Service Needs Assessment Survey.
• SB 986/HB 613 and SB 1402/HB 7073 to update Florida’s workers’ compensation system – Individually, these two bills provide updates to the state’s workers’ compensation program. HB 613, sponsored by Representative Sullivan and Senator Simpson, reduces regulation and removes outdated and unnecessary fees. This bill will relieve small businesses from onerous provisions while ensuring that businesses remain compliant with coverage requirements. SB 1402, sponsored by Representative Ray and Senator Simmons,  guarantees that injured workers continue to receive first-rate health care by ratifying the rules that ensure medical providers are properly reimbursed for their services. 
• SB 592/HB 463 to protect non-sworn investigators – Sponsored by Representative DuBose and Senator Hutson, this bill exempts the personal information of non-sworn Department investigators from becoming a public record, protecting our employees from receiving threats.
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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 spending. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).