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March 31, 2009

Bill Reduces Workers’ Compensation Rates and Restores Attorney Fee Limits

TALLAHASSEE – With overwhelming support, the Florida House of Representatives today voted 84-35 to pass HB 903, which will restore savings for workers’ compensation rates for Florida employers recently jeopardized by a Florida Supreme Court ruling. Sponsored by Rep. Anitere Flores (R-Miami), the bill is important to Florida’s economy and critical to job creation.

“In these difficult times, we need to do everything we can to enable employers to hire more workers and get our citizens and Florida working again. This bill will allow them to do exactly that,” said Rep. Flores. 

In October 2008, the Court’s ruling in Murray v. Mariners Health/ACE USA delivered a blow to Florida’s employers that increased the cost of doing business and derailed the current success of Florida’s workers’ compensation insurance system. That ruling allowed payment of hourly attorney fees, reversed the positive trend of more affordable premiums and revived one of the system’s biggest drivers of claim costs: attorney involvement.

“Passing HB 903 is the exact response the Florida House needed to establish the Legislature’s policy making authority and clarify its original intent to guarantee that injured workers actually receive the majority of benefits secured,” said Barney Bishop III, President & CEO of Associated Industries of Florida.  “We hope the Florida Senate will soon pass identical legislation.  AIF stands united with Florida’s business community in advancing this important legislation all the way to the Governor’s desk.  We must restore the balance to the workers’ compensation system that makes coverage available and affordable for all employers and employees.”

Sen. Garrett Richter’s (R-Naples) SB 2072 is identical to HB 903 and passed the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee last week. It will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow.