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Business Observer Thursday, Apr. 2, 2009 9 years ago

Government Digest

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A look at state and local government.
by: Jay Brady Government Editor

Workers' comp bill
heads to House floor

FLORIDA — A Florida House committee has approved a workers' compensation bill that is expected to restore balance and predictability in attorney's fees in workers' compensation. By passing Committee Substitute for House Bill 903, the committee sent it on to the House floor.

Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, and Rep. Trudi Williams, R-Fort Myers, co-sponsored the bill.

The bill addresses a Florida Supreme Court decision from last October by clarifying that awards of attorney's fees, except in certain medical only cases, are to be calculated based solely on the fee schedule. In particular, the bill removes statutory language providing for a “reasonable” attorney's fee.

Thus, attorney's fees in workers' compensation will be calculated in the manner they had been from the 2003 reforms up to October's decision.

An identical Senate version, Senate Bill 2072, is sponsored by Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Cape Coral. The bill has been approved by one Senate committee and was scheduled to go to the Judiciary Committee April 1.

Associated Industries of Florida and other business groups advocated for the legislation to correct the ambiguity that the Florida Supreme Court identified in the law in its October ruling. Based on that case, Emma Murray vs. Mariner Health, Inc. and ACE USA, the Office of Insurance Regulation approved a 6.4% rate increase effective April 1. If the bill is enacted, it would become effective July 1, 2009.

Council targets
high-value business

PASCO COUNTY — Pasco Economic Development Council (PEDC) recently launched the “New Pasco: Locally United, Globally Competitive” campaign designed to strengthen the PEDC's ability to attract, retain and expand high-value business to the county.

The “New Pasco” campaign has an immediate goal to raise $168,100 in private-sector investments over the next twenty-four months through 2010 and to raise a total of $2,850,900 over the next six years to fund the six initiatives of the PEDC's new strategic plan aimed at fostering economic growth. Seventy percent of its budget will go toward business development and marketing Pasco.

“This campaign is even more essential in these difficult economic times,” said PEDC Board Chairman Stew Gibbons. “With the economic challenges that are facing Pasco County, the state of Florida and the country, we must come together as a community to stimulate the local economy and create jobs.”

The new strategic plan also calls for the PEDC's governance structure to be transformed to encourage involvement from local business and community leaders.

“Our new six-year strategic plan will allow us to focus on the specific issues that will have the most significant impact on improving the economic climate of Pasco County,” said PEDC President/CEO Mary Jane Stanley. “The 'New
Pasco' campaign will provide the PEDC with the necessary resources to capitalize on the continued growth of the Tampa Bay region.”

The PEDC says it was responsible for assisting thirteen companies in 2008, leading to 451 new jobs and, $68,235,000 of investment in Pasco County.

The Steering Committee for the “New Pasco” campaign includes: Dewey Mitchell, Prudential CRES (Co-Chair); Wilton Simpson, Simpson Farms, Inc. (Co-Chair); Trey Starkey, Starkey Land Development, LLC (Co-Chair); Keith
Appenzeller, King Engineering Associates, Inc; Ed Blommel, Tampa Electric Company; Billy E. Brown, Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative; John J. Gallagher, Pasco County; W. Stewart Gibbons, Connerton; Ben Harrill,
James Benjamin Harrill, PA; Katherine Johnson, Ed.D., Pasco-Hernando Community College; Dr. Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., Saint Leo University; Georgianne Ratliff, WilsonMiller, Inc.; and Steve Sacone, VLOC, subsidiary of II-VI, Inc.

Lower impact fees
result in grant

CHARLOTTE COUNTY — The state has awarded Charlotte County $2 million in incentive funds in exchange for reducing impact fees. The money will be used for homeownership assistance for low to moderate income households, acquisition of foreclosed properties for resale to low to moderate income households, and foreclosure prevention.

MEETINGS


TAMPA
Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio will give her annual “The State of the City” speech at The Tampa Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Tuesday, April 7 at the Westin Harbour Island, 725 S. Harbour Island Blvd. The event is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. with registration at 11:45 a.m.
he cost is $30 for members and $40 for non-members. She will update chamber members on current and upcoming initiatives and projects as well as discuss many of the city's recent successes.
Sworn into office for a second four-year term on April 1, 2007, Iorio has established six strategic goals to guide Tampa throughout this decade: investing in neighborhoods, economic development of our most challenged areas, creating a residential community downtown, efficient city government focused on customer service, establishing Tampa as a city of the arts, and making regional mass transit a reality.

COLLIER
The Collier County Outreach Program will meet Tuesday, April 7 at 9 a.m. in Conference Rooms 609-610, of the Community Development Building, located at 2800 N. Horseshoe Drive, Naples. The agenda includes presentations from:
• Chairman Donna Fiala, Collier County Board of Commissioners;
• Joseph K. Schmitt, Collier County Community Development & Environmental Services Administrator;
• John DiMartino, Collier County Senior Environmental Specialist;
• Steve Nagle, Roxanne Clifton & Angelica Sotomayor, South Florida Water Management District.
For more information, call Kellie Carroll at (239) 252-2947 or by email at [email protected] to confirm your reservation for this event.

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