Legislative Action


Last month, I wrote about the NFL’s push to get the Florida legislature to pass a reciprocity bill to lock down professional athlestes into the Florida W/C system. 

Sorry for missing this, but it looks like SB 1286 passed, after morphing into House bill HB 723, which you can read here.

Feel free to review my analysis of this new statute here.  The next step is either Governor Rick Scott vetoing the bill, signing the bill, or doing nothing.  The last two decisions result in the bill becoming law.  

What the state’s professional football teams will do is still not official yet, but once I get analysis on the effect of the law (if signed) on the average workforce I will report.

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Well, I’m on a roll.

I just attended the Florida Bar Workers’ Compensation Forum, and our section President was kind enough to give us a legislative update.  Since Emma Murray and the upheaval to remove “reasonable” from chapter 440, the Legislature has been relative quiet on the W/C front. 

However, our section President informed the Forum that there is a new Senate bill, lobbied by the National Football League, that would stop Claimants from seeking out-of-state W/C benefits; mainly from California.  You can see the Senate Bill, SB 1286, here.   It creates a new statute in Chapter 440, section 440.094, titled “Extraterritorial Reciprocity”.    The intent is to prevent the current rush of out of state claims from former players towards California  courts, were the W/C laws are the most liberal.

Since I’ve written about the NFL before, I think this bill is a wonderful step forward for the League to embrace head trauma injuries into the W/C fold and limit their exposure for future claims.

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Even though the new House bill that overturns Emma Murray was voted  in Congress on May 1, it did not land on Governor Crist’s desk until this past Friday, May 15.  Therefore, Crist has until May 30 to veto the bill.  If he does nothing then, according to the Florida Constitution, the bill automatically becomes law. 

Considering Governor Crist’s penchant for doing nothing, it seems to be a safe assumption that this bill will become law.  But, that is not stopping some major news publications from arguing for Crist to veto the bill.  (See the St. Pete Times editorials here and here.)

But none of these editorials make the argument as succinctly and compelling as one I heard today from a fellow Workers’ Comp attorney.  He called it the “long thin clown balloon” theory and it goes as follows. . . (more…)

Making me eat my own words, the Florida Legislature reconciled the two versions of the anti-Emma Murray bill and decided to go with the much simpler House version,HB 903, which simply removes the word “reasonable” from section 440.34.  As everyone knows, the Supreme Court found that the 10/1/03 changes to 440.34 created a statutory ambiguity and this bill (now potentially the law) removes that ambiguity. (more…)

David A. MaCranie, Esq., who has been blogging about Florida’s Workers’ Comp law well before me, is a very respected attorney in the field and has been keeping better tabs than I on the political machinations of the Legislature’s attempts to overturn Emma Murray (see my prior posts about the subject here and here). 

In David’s blog, he reports that the Senate version of the bill–which has become Frankenstein’s monster–was approved yesterday by a unanimous vote of 39-0.  That amended version of the House bill brought back bad faith claims, raised the statutory fee percentages, removed JCC approval for Claimant paid fees, but gave an exception to first responders.   (more…)

After another round in front of the Government Appropriations Committee yesterday, Senate Bill 2072, which I posted about yesterday, was passed, but not without Frankenstein’s monster getting another appendage.  Next stop, the floor of the Senate for a full vote.

This time–in an obvious effort to calm the police and firefighters unions–the Senate added an exception to the heavily bloated bill that would give an exception to first responders by allowing the Emma Murray decision just to apply to them.   That’s right.  According to the latest and greatest SB 2072, which is headed to the Senate floor for a full vote, only attorneys for first responders (that is union attorneys) would be entitled to hourly fees.  The rest of Florida’s work force will have to hope to find an attorney that can get paid through the old bad faith law, now inserted within SB 2072.  You can read the new first responder amendments here

So the question remains as we all await the full Senate vote: is this bill worth the time spent lobbying for it?

My answer after the jump. (more…)

During the Workers’ Compensation Forum last week–which can easily be described as a successful event–many of us learned of the recent developments of Senate Bill 2072.   Per a recent post, I discussed how the Florida Legislature is tackling the Emma Murray decision head on, attempting to enact legislation to overturn the Supreme Court decision that reinstated hourly fees for Claimant attorneys.

The House version, HB 903, sailed through committees and ultimately passed on March 31.  The identical Senate version, however, has met significant stiffer resistance.  Now, SB 2072, is amended to the point where the two versions look nothing alike and, in my opinion, is weighed down with too many controversial “compromises” that I cannot foresee how either side will agree to.

Let’s look at the controversial amendments. . . (more…)

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