Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2018 Legislative Session
The Last 24
Good Tuesday evening. There’s a wee spot of trouble brewing over a proposed ban on minors getting married, and payday loan legislation keeps moving. Sixty Days will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today. Here’s your evening rundown.
Wedding wait: There’s a rift over a bill that could ban outright all marriages for minors in the state, and that will become more pronounced when the House takes up the matter tomorrow.
Payday passage: A measure to change the state’s payday-lending system before new federal government regulations kick in easily cleared a House panel.
Data block: A House panel advanced a bill that would change the way law enforcement officers get their hands on data from a person’s cellphone.
Session break: The Senate has called off its floor session this week because senators want to focus on committee work still to be done.
Confirmation clout: Andrew Fay easily and quickly won a Senate panel’s confirmation vote for the Public Service Commission (PSC).
Hurricane help: Farmers, nursing homes and property owners hit by Hurricane Irma could receive tax relief as part of a nearly $333 million package to be introduced in the House.
Quote of the Day
“It’s #AmendmentDay in the Commerce Committee. Help come celebrate a waste of taxpayer money.” — Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat, tweeting Tuesday. He filed nine amendments on Dover Republican Ross Spano’s resolution declaring pornography a public health risk, including one to recognize the “risk created by Stormy Daniels, an American pornographic actress.”
Bill Day’s Latest
Lawsuits against insurance companies that involve Assignment of Benefits (AOB) increased 58 percent between 2015 and 2017 and represented more than half of all insurance litigation in Florida last year. Those are among the findings of a new report from the Florida Justice Reform Institute (FJRI), supporting their call for “meaningful AOB reform this Legislative Session.”
AOB is when homeowners in need of repairs sign over benefits to contractors, who then pursue payments from insurance companies. But critics say the practice has become rife with fraud.
Liz Reynolds, regional vice president for the Southeast for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, and Logan McFaddin, regional manager for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, explain why this issue needs attention.
Q: Where does the opportunity for abuse come about in AOB?
Reynolds: An AOB was designed to help ease the claims process, but it also brings in a third party with a separate financial interest. AOB abuse happens when that financial interest overcomes the interests of insurers and policyholders.
Q: What part do insurers have to play?
Reynolds: Any insurer that wants to stay in business does more than simply pay the bill. Mutual insurers especially, given their focus on policyholders, have a vested interest in not simply paying claims, but working to help policyholder members reduce their risks and protect themselves from loss.
Q: Why is abuse on the rise?
McFaddin: We are seeing an increase in the number of property and auto glass claims because one-way attorney fees are incentivizing AOB abuse. Legislative reform is desperately needed to curtail the number of fake or inflated claims and lawsuits. Now is the time for legislators to protect Floridians from these bad actors and help reduce insurance costs.
Please, no “Skynet” jokes.
Tallahassee lobbyist Matt Doster has signed the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition as a client for legislative lobbying, records show. The registration was effective Feb. 9.
The institute, a not-for-profit research arm of the Florida University System, employs “computer scientists, cognitive psychologists, neuroscientists, linguists, physicians, philosophers, engineers and social scientists of various stripes, as well as some people who resist all attempts to classify them,” its website says.
“Current active research areas include artificial intelligence, … humanoid robotics, exoskeletons, advanced interfaces and displays, cybersecurity (and) intelligent data understanding,” to name a few.
OK, maybe we take back that part about the Skynet jokes …
The Next 24
State lobbyists face a Wednesday deadline for filing reports detailing their compensation during the fourth quarter of 2017.
The Florida Retail Federation will host a press conference with Republican lawmakers Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Rene Plasencia to address the importance of allowing pharmacists to test Floridians for the flu and provide treatment. That’s at noon, fourth-floor rotunda, The Capitol.
The House meets on the floor to consider measures that seek to ban or limit the ability of minors to get married in Florida. That’s at 1:30 p.m., House chamber, The Capitol.
The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will take up a bill to create a process to certify the victims of abuse at the shuttered Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and the Florida School for Boys at Okeechobee. That’s at 1:30 p.m., 37 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.
The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee will consider a proposal to ban the oil- and gas-drilling technique known as fracking. That’s at 1:30 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.
The Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee will consider a proposal to create the Statewide Alternative Transportation Authority, which would address issues such as autonomous vehicles. That’s at 1:30 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.
The Able Trust, along with Sen. Dorothy Hukill, a Port Orange Republican, and Rep. Randy Fine, a Palm Bay Republican, will host a Tiny House Project display. That’s at 3 p.m. in The Capitol Courtyard.
The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee will take up a bill aimed at revamping the state’s process for approving trauma centers. That’s at 4 p.m., 401 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.
The Senate Regulated Industries Committee will hold confirmation hearings for Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Jonathan Zachem and Lottery Secretary Jim Poppell. That’s at 4 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.