Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis on New Year’s Eve highlighted his office’s accomplishments throughout 2020.
Throughout the tumultuous year, Patronis worked to support families and businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, fought fraud and held scammers accountable and, as the state’s Fire Marshall, advocated for firefighters, responded to a historic hurricane season, among other accomplishments.
In all, Patronis’ office highlighted 20 accomplishments.
For families and small businesses struggling under the weight of a global pandemic, Patronis and his staff advocated for early revenue projections to give lawmakers better insight into the fiscal impacts of the virus, and worked to protect Florida’s AAA Bond rating. Patronis also provided transparency as the state disbursed billions in Federal CARES Act funding.
As licensing for new insurance agents stopped when testing vendors’ offices shuttered, Patronis issued a directive allowing the department to process more than 15,300 temporary insurance agent licenses in a manner that promoted job growth and protected Florida’s insurance consumers.
The CFO also held more than 30 meetings with local Chambers of Commerce throughout the state to better understand the impacts of the pandemic on Florida businesses and job creators. Patronis’ top priority in the 2021 Legislative Session is now fighting for business liability protections for Florida businesses and working with stakeholders to craft legislation that will head-off frivolous lawsuits in order to protect Florida’s economy and get Floridians back to work.
To protect public servants, Patronis also directed the Division of Risk Management to provide workers’ compensation coverage to state employees who are fighting COVID-19.
Throughout the year, his office tracked a 6.6% decrease in workers’ compensation insurance rates and, in June, refunded $27.6 million in workforce premiums to nearly 13,000 policyholders within the Florida Workers’ Compensation Joint Underwriting Association.
Patronis was also integral in procuring emergency medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers battling the pandemic.
As Floridians battled economic hardship related to the pandemic, Patronis continued his work fighting fraud, opening 1,200 investigations, which led to more than 300 arrests and more than $3 million in court ordered restitution.
Since 2017, when Patronis took office, more than 3,700 arrests have been made fo fraud, arson and misusing state funds. The arrests led to more than $162 million in restitution.
Patronis’ office also worked to protect some 1.5 million veterans in Florida from identity theft and scams. He worked with lawmakers to successfully pass the Florida Veteran’s Protection Act and add the victimization of 10 or more veterans as an aggravated white-collar crime.
As the state’s fire marshall, Patronis worked to support more than 38,000 firefighters in the state, including through a request to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to immediately revisit its decision to not classify firefighters as health care personnel and provide them priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine. While that has not yet completely happened, Patronis continues to advocate for their inclusion in early vaccinations.
Patronis also advocated for frontline utility workers to receive a vaccination ahead of the 2021 Hurricane Season, which starts in June.
While all eyes most of this year have been on the pandemic, Patronis also helped navigate the most active hurricane season on record this year as storm after storm battered the panhandle.
In all, there were 30 named storms during the 2020 season including 12 that made landfall in the U.S. Patronis oversaw the deployment of five urban search and rescue teams to assist in recovery efforts in Florida and Louisiana.
His efforts also included launching the statewide insurance consumer helpline, which answered more than 243,000 calls and opened more than 18,000 insurance complaints. The efforts resulted in more than $23 million recovered for Florida insurance consumers.
Perhaps even more impactful, Patronis successfully urged Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to reverse their decision to cancel homeowner’s insurance policies during the 2020 Hurricane Season.