Advocacy: Special Report
The Legislature will have no shortage of input from business groups in the 2011 session.
? TORT REFORM
Liability: Tim Stapleton, executive vice president of the Florida Medical Association, says the state should adopt the same sort of sweeping medical liability reforms that Texas passed in 2003. Key components, Stapleton says, include expert witness reform, equal access to medical witnesses and emergency room sovereign immunity. Additionally, the association champions sovereign immunity to physicians who treat Medicaid patients.
Trial Lawyers: Top agenda items for the Florida Justice Association (formerly the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers):
» Crashworthiness: Opposing SB 142, by Sen. Garrett Richter (R-Naples), which would change the way juries apportion fault in "enhanced injury cases" by requiring them to consider the fault of all entities who contributed to the automobile crash. The justice association says the bill will "enable vehicle manufacturers to escape responsibility when their products cause serious injury to Floridians" by shifting the blame to someone else.
» Bad Faith: Fighting the insurance industry's attempts to eliminate or weaken the state's insurance bad faith laws.
» Med-mal: Opposing expert witness licensing and the push to provide immunity for emergency room physicians and Medicaid providers. According to the association, emergency room physicians in Florida are already protected by the state's $150,000 cap on non-economic damages — the lowest in the nation.
» Insurance Reforms: Opposing "anti-consumer" provisions in various insurance reform proposals.
Relief Efforts: Randy Miller, executive vice president of the Florida Retail Federation, says retailers are eyeing tort reform, potential changes to immigration laws and any legislation related to renewable energy. The federation is also advocating the following:
» Tax relief from an increase in the unemployment compensation tax, which jumped from a minimum rate of $25.20 to $72.10 in January. Florida employers also are facing a special assessment of $13 per employee that will be collected by the Florida Department of Revenue in June to pay back money that the state borrowed from the federal government for unemployment compensation benefits.
» Reauthorization of the three-day, back-to-school sales tax holiday.
» Increased efforts to collect taxes from internet purchases: Analysts estimate that the state loses approximately $2 billion every year.
» A bill to block local governments from banning the sale of fertilizer.
» A bill to block local governments from allowing employees with wage claims from filing the claim with the local government and subjecting the employer to a "non-judicial proceeding."