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Politics

New Year Brings Changes to Workers Comp, Minimum Wage

January 1, 2019 - 6:00am

Minimum-wage workers will get a pay raise, businesses will get a break on insurance bills and a few new laws will take effect Tuesday as 2019 begins in Florida.

Minimum-wage workers will start earning $8.46 an hour Tuesday, up from $8.25 an hour in 2018 --- and more than a dollar above the $7.25 federal minimum wage.

Florida’s minimum wage ticks up each year because of a 2004 constitutional amendment that ties the rate to inflation.

Also, businesses across the state will begin to see lower workers’ compensation insurance rates. Regulators have approved an overall 13.8 percent decrease in workers’ compensation rates for 2019.

The decrease follows a 9.5 average rate reduction in 2018.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance, which files rate proposals for the industry each year, said in an August filing that the decrease is in line with trends in other states.

“Consistent improvement in loss experience is the primary driver underlying the filing. More specifically, the long-term decline in claim frequency has continued to more than offset moderate increases in claim severity,” an overview by the organization known as NCCI said. “This has resulted in continued downward pressure on the overall average rate level need and is consistent with trends across most NCCI states.”

Most laws passed during the 2018 legislative session took effect July 1, Oct. 1 or upon Gov. Rick Scott’s signature. In all, lawmakers sent 195 bills to Scott from the session that ended in March. The governor vetoed two, while signing the rest.

A handful take effect Tuesday, including a measure (HB 1011) that requires homeowners’ insurance policies to make clear that they do not cover flood damage.

“I've met many constituents who had no idea that their hurricane coverage did not include protections when their homes flooded,” Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, said late last year when she introduced the Senate version of the bill. “This is especially problematic in South Florida as we face sea level rise and stronger storm surges from climate change.”

Also this week, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission will hold a conference call to vote on a report that includes findings and recommendations stemming from the Feb. 14 shooting in Broward County that killed 17 people. The commission was created as part of broad legislation approved during the 2018 session after the shooting at the Parkland high school.

The commission will finalize the report Wednesday. It is expected to deal with numerous issues, including the possibility of arming teachers and ways to bolster the security of school buildings.

With the start of the new year, however, much of the attention in state government will focus on next week’s inauguration of Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis. A transition team has been gradually filling out the administration of DeSantis, who will be sworn in Jan. 8.

Comments

It is heartbreaking that such young people are capable of committing such atrocities. It's easier to blame who is at fault, then to look for viable solutions. These type of events have been happening since the mid-19th century and have grown in frequency since. I'm pretty sure President Obama, nor his program were around then. Approximately 300 documented school shootings had occurred in the U.S. when he took office. Not anyone President, no matter how great he/she is can stop this from happening without the active engagement of our society. We need to stop politicizing every single issue and become part of the solution. Guns are here to stay, and it is up to all of us to figure out the best way to promote gun safety, yes, gun safety NOT gun control. Two different subjects. Gun violence doesn't only happen in schools --- Our government decided a long time ago that mental health issues were not a priority resulting in services being stripped to nearly nothing. We need to figure out how to solve this dilemma as well. We all need to be involved if we want to produce a nation of healthy and contributing members of society.

"The Promise Program", initiated by President Obama and AG Holder was originally designed to provide a safety net for underage African Americans who were believed to be charged with crimes, arrested and incarcerated at a rate disproportionately to caucasians. The Promise Program was specifically designed to give multiple opportunities to those who commit crimes so as not to charge, arrest or file charges and have to go in front of a judge for a penalty or spend time in jail. Obama and Holder realized that they could not have this program for only African Americans so it was extended for all minorities and caucasians. Broward county Sheriff Israel signed up for this program and received inturn additional funds from the Administration for participating. The Parkland shooter was a participant of the Promise Program and therefore was given multiple chances without being charged and or prosecuted for his multiple violations of the law. If it wasn't for Sheriff Israel and Broward County being involved in this program, the children and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Parkland High School that were murdered last February 14, 2018, would probably still be alive today.

The legislature needs to address the failure to act by both the Parkland Heights school and the sheriffs department. The Parkland Heights shooter brought Knives and other weapons to school and even attempted to sell them there. The schools response was to ban him from carrying a book bag In school. The future shooter was never baker acted or arrested for these acts which should’ve been treated as a felony. If he had been either arrested or set for a mental health evaluation, he never would’ve been able to purchase the guns that allowed him to go on a shooting rampage! I Florida legislature needs to address these failures to act. The legislation Obama passed that tried to reduce the number of incidents of students going from school to jail has been detrimental to their fellow students and to our society at large. They may be young and they may be students, but this should not be An issue when they break the law. They should be held accountable for their actions. We have students younger than 12 who have committed heinous crimes and even murder. Age should not be a determining factor in the actions taken by law enforcement and our judiciary! Their record can be sealed later unlike older criminals. Refusing to arrest or prosecute because they are teenagers is ill-advised.

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