The Orlando Sentinel reported on the economic risks in the Sunshine State, if the budget is not cobbled out in Congress...
"Without a deal, the combination of tax hikes and spending cuts would reduce Florida's economic output by $16 billion by the fourth quarter of 2013 and lead to a loss of 130,000 to 140,000 jobs, according to a University of Florida economist.
"That's enough to set off a mild recession and an uptick in the state's unemployment rate, said UF's David Denslow, who made the projections after reviewing a Congressional Budget Office assessment of the nationwide impact and applying it to Florida.
"On the other hand, he said, averting the cliff could have a rallying effect.
'The signal will be an increase in the stock market, giving people a little bit of a wealth effect,' Denslow said. 'In Florida, the big problem is going to remain the housing market, which is stabilizing and improving to be sure, but as a [big] foreclosure state we've got a long pipeline to be worked out.' "
"Several Florida lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott said Friday they will push to 'educate' Floridians on the hidden costs associated with property insurance and a 'house of cards' that will blow down, if a major storm hits.
"Speaking at the Florida Chamber of Commerce insurance summit at Disney, Scott said a concerted effort needs to be made to inform insurance policyholders that state efforts to shore up the market in some of the most hurricane prone regions of the state, will likely trigger across-the-board assessments when the state-backed insurer can't pay claims.
"Scott's comments came shortly after a Chamber political consultant released survey results showing 80 percent of policyholders are not aware that they will be charged assessments if Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund are unable to pay claims in the event of a serious storm.
"Scott said Citizens, the state-backed insurer, needs to continue efforts to get the word out about the potential for what he called a 'hurricane tax.' Citizens has gone from the insurer of last resort to the state's largest property insurer, with nearly 1.5 million policyholders.
" 'To make the dream of home ownership available we must reduce the size of Citizens,' Scott said. 'It cannot be the insurer of first resort.' "
LAWMAKER CALLS FOR TOP-TO-BOTTOM PROBE OF CITIZENS INSURANCE by Tolu Olorunnipa of the Miami Herald
According to the Miami Herald: "Rep. Frank Artiles wrote a letter to Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty on Friday, calling for a 'Market Conduct Examination' on Citizens.
"Such an examination would look at nearly every aspect of the company’s operations, including its personnel management, financial books, customer service and claims processing.
" 'It is imperative that all Floridians and Citizens’ policyholders are protected, The Governor and Cabinet and entire Florida Legislature are responsible for what is happening at Citizens,' said Artiles. 'Clearly, the Board of Citizens seems to be asleep at the switch, disinterested or indifferent to the daily operations of the organization. They have shirked their fiduciary responsibilities.' "
PRELUDE TO 2014 by Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald
"Two years before he’s even on the ballot, Rick Scott is already the $5 million candidate.
"Expect that number — the amount he raised through his personal political committee since winning office — to more than quadruple in the coming months. In addition, he has the Republican Party’s coffers and his personal millions at the ready.
"Scott will need every penny.
"The unpopular governor faces two formidable challenges: His own record and the chance that his predecessor, Charlie Crist, might run against him.
"At this early stage, it appears that the potential Scott-Crist election matchup is all about elections — specifically an elections law Scott signed."
BOB GRAHAM FINE WITH CRIST AS DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR
"Charlie and I, even when we were running against each other in '98, have had a close and cordial personal relationship," said Graham on Political Connections on Bay News 9, who has no problem with the concept of Crist seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
"I don't think it's a bad idea," Graham said. "We spent a couple of decades with Democrats registering as Republicans. It would be kind of nice to have a period where Republicans were coming home to the Democratic Party."
ALAN HAYS TO BRING BACK DOCTORS DRUG-DISPENSING BILL by Jim Turner of Sunshine State News
Should the Legislature impose limits on how much doctors can charge for medicine they dispense from their offices? Reporter Jim Turner examines the issue, which is expected to come before the Florida Legislature.
"A bill to lower workers’ compensation costs for businesses, by limiting how much doctors can charge for medicine they dispense out of their offices, will return in 2013.
"Hays, the author of the bill, said he will refile the bill that failed to reach the Senate floor last session. Dispensing physicians have confirmed that they will challenge the bill again on behalf of their patients.
"Hays noted that for one muscle relaxant, medical offices pay $8.33 to file a prescription but are able to seek more than $430 in reimbursement through the state workers’ compensation system.
"The bill was strongly opposed by Automated HealthCare Solutions, a Miramar-based company that offers software to self-dispensing physicians."
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Melissa Akenson, William Rubin, Heather Turnbull, The Rubin Group: GTECH Corporation, Providence, RI
Keith Arnold, Fowler White: Florida PACE Association
Hubert Bohannon, Colleen Castille, Marty Fiorentino, Joseph Moblev, The Fiorentino Group: CTS America
Paul Bradshaw, Southern Strategies Group; TCC Foundation
Chris Coker, Coker Consulting: Sunrise Community Promotions
Jeff Hartley, Smith Bryan & Myers: Summit Care