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League of Cities drops opposition to workers’ comp changes

After a top state official blasted the group for “knowingly peddling a deceptive report,” the Florida League of Cities now says it no longer opposes a workers’ compensation insurance bill that could provide expanded benefits to first responders with job-related post-traumatic stress disorder.

Florida League of Cities lobbyist David Cruz told members of the House Government Accountability Committee that an amendment added to the bill (HB 227) quashed his group’s concerns with the proposal.

Cruz’s announcement came hours after state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis sent an email to members of the House Government Accountability Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee, which was slated to take up the bill Tuesday, blasting the report.

In his memo to lawmakers, Patronis said the state Division of Workers’ Compensation reviewed the analysis and concluded that it overestimated the amount of time first responders could be out of work and included “outrageous and absurd assumptions made to skew opinion on this important issue.”

Patronis said the state’s review also showed that “each and every ‘worst case scenario’ possible” was used to estimate the cost of lost wages and assumed that first responders would always receive the highest disability amount available.

The House bill would allow first responders who have, among other things, witnessed the death of a minor or witnessed a death that involved “grievous bodily harm of a nature that shocks the conscience” to file a workers’ compensation claim for lost wages. The first responders would be required to show by clear and convincing evidence that the events were the source of the PTSD.

Scott Dudley, director of legislative affairs for the Florida League of Cities, said the initial version of the bill was broadly written and that it has been “tightened up” throughout the legislative process. Because cities and counties in Florida employ almost all first responders, they will incur almost all of the costs of the benefit.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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