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AOB Has 'Degenerated into a Racket,' Says DeSantis

March 7, 2019 - 9:15am

As the House and Senate try to resolve the complicated --- and heavily lobbied --- issue, Gov. Ron DeSantis used his State of the State address this week to call for changes in the controversial insurance practice known as “assignment of benefits.”

Assignment of benefits, or AOB, is a major issue in the legislative session that started Tuesday. Insurers contend that abuses of the practice are leading to higher insurance premiums, a position that DeSantis echoed.

Florida, Georgia Square off Again in Water War

March 5, 2019 - 8:30am
Isaac Lang-Apalachicola River Delta

Florida says the case is the “last, best hope” to save the Apalachicola River region from destruction.

Georgia says Florida’s arguments threaten to cause hundreds of millions of dollars in “real harm” to the Peach State.

Now, a federal appellate judge based in New Mexico will have to sort out the long-running battle between Florida and Georgia over water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system, which starts in Georgia and flows south into the Florida Panhandle.

Ten Big Issues to Watch During the 2019 Session

February 26, 2019 - 9:00am

(This is the first in a series of stories advancing the legislative session)

Florida lawmakers will gather March 5 in the House chamber to hear Gov. Ron DeSantis give his first State of the State address, the traditional start of the 60-day legislative session.

Led by Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, and House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, lawmakers this year will deal with myriad issues, ranging from passing a state budget to deciding whether to allow patients to smoke medical marijuana.

Here are 10 big issues to watch during the session:

State Challenges Medical Marijuana Dispensary Ruling

February 19, 2019 - 8:45am

As lawmakers weigh changes to the state’s medical-marijuana laws, the Florida Department of Health has appealed a circuit judge’s ruling that struck down a limit on the number of dispensaries that marijuana businesses can operate.

Attorneys for the Department of Health filed a notice late Friday that said they were challenging a Feb. 1 ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers. As is common, the notice of taking the case to the 1st District Court of Appeal did not detail the department’s arguments.

Windshield Damage Claims: Insurance Companies Win One

February 14, 2019 - 9:00am

Supporters say the proposal could prevent shady insurance claims. Opponents say it would hurt small businesses.

But after a lengthy debate Wednesday, a House panel approved a bill (HB 323) that would prevent auto-glass shops from offering cash, gift cards and other incentives to motorists to attract windshield-repair work.

House Insurance & Banking Chairwoman Cyndi Stevenson, R-Saint Johns, pointed to concerns about “bad behavior” that can result from such incentives. That includes unnecessary insurance claims that could lead to higher premiums for motorists.

Port St. Lucie Restoration Firm Asks High Court to Overturn AOB Ruling

February 12, 2019 - 7:30am

In a closely watched case, a restoration firm asked the Florida Supreme Court on Monday to overturn a ruling that allowed restrictions on the controversial insurance practice known as “assignment of benefits.”

Attorneys for Restoration 1 of Port St. Lucie filed a 45-page brief at the Supreme Court arguing that the 4th District Court of Appeal improperly backed restrictions placed on a policy by Ark Royal Insurance Co. in a St. Lucie County dispute involving water damage to a home.

DeSantis' $18.8 Million Scholarship Boost Showcases His Dedication to School Choice

February 5, 2019 - 6:00am

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday touted a proposal to spend an additional $18.8 million next year on a program that provides voucher-like scholarships to students with disabilities, saying he trusts “parents to make the best decision” for the education of their children.

DeSantis' Record-High $91.3 Billion Budget Nevertheless Strives to Cut Taxes

February 1, 2019 - 2:00pm

In what would be the largest budget in state history, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday released a proposed $91.3 billion spending plan that would increase school funding, pump money into water-quality projects and trim taxes. DeSantis’ proposal is a starting point for lawmakers, who will negotiate a 2019-2020 budget during the legislative session that starts March 5. The Legislature typically makes significant changes to spending proposals offered by governors.

Judge Karen Gievers Rules against State on Medicaid Contract

January 29, 2019 - 6:00am

The state Agency for Health Care Administration has quickly appealed after a circuit judge ruled that it improperly awarded a Medicaid managed-care contract in Southwest Florida.

Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers last week rejected AHCA’s contract with Molina Healthcare of Florida, Inc., finding the agency exceeded a limit on the number of health plans that state law allows to serve Medicaid beneficiaries in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Lee and Sarasota counties. 

Lawmakers Could Revisit School Funding Formula

January 28, 2019 - 8:00am

A House panel Thursday began delving into an arcane and potentially controversial issue that has lingered in Florida’s education system for years --- how to divvy up money among the state’s school districts.

The issue focuses primarily on determining how much it costs to hire teachers and other school employees in various parts of the state. A price-level index, which is calculated to try to represent those costs, is part of a broader formula that lawmakers approve each year to distribute money to districts.


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