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Business Observer Friday, Aug. 19, 2011 10 years ago

Government Digest: Aug. 19

Governmental action from around the Gulf Coast.
by: Jay Brady Government Editor

Scott, Bondi applaud ObamaCare ruling
TALLAHASSEE — Following the 2-1 ruling of the 11th District Court of Appeals rejecting the individual mandates of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but disagreeing with the federal district court's opinion invalidating the entire law, Gov. Rick Scott says he would like to see the issue go before the U.S. Supreme Court — and fast.

“If implemented, Obama-Care will result in the rationing of health care, significant tax increases, significant job losses and the inability of many Americans to keep their existing health insurance,” Scott says in a statement. “It is critical that this case be expedited to the United States Supreme Court so that we can put this job-killing federal government mandate behind us and begin making the meaningful improvements our health care system needs without infringing on the liberties of Americans.”

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi agreed, saying the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision upholds the state's position that the federal law exceeds Congress' power.

Bondi is urging that the case get to the Supreme Court as fast as possible, in part so it doesn't get caught up in 2012 election politics.

Scott names Gulf Coast members to board
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott appointed Jeffrey Mesaros of Tampa to the Board of Pharmacy, and also reappointed Lakewood Ranch resident Lorena Risch. Mesaros, 34, is a Walgreens pharmacist and an attorney with Medco. He succeeds Dr. Stephen Melvin. Both Mesaros and Risch are appointed for a term beginning Aug. 11, and ending Oct. 31, 2014. Mesaros was a pharmacist with K-Mart Pharmacy from 2007 to 2008 and was with e-PharmPro from 2005 to 2007.  He received his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Wilkes University, a law degree from the University of Miami School of Law and a Master of Pharmacy from the University of Florida.

Risch, 67, is a retired pharmacy owner. Risch owned Hedges Pharmacy with her husband from 1985 to 2005. The appointments are subject to Florida Senate confirmation.


Redistricting meetings coming to Gulf Coast
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Legislature's redistricting committee begins its Gulf Coast swing when it meets 4-8 p.m., Aug. 29, at the Jefferson High School auditorium at 4401 Cypress St., Tampa. The committee of 21 House members will take public input on where to draw congressional and legislative district boundaries.

“Over the next 10 years we're probably going to see a less conservative House overall and a less conservative Senate overall,” predicts Barney Bishop, president of Associated Industries of Florida. “That has huge consequences for Florida businesses. The likelihood of the House and Senate being demonstrably supportive of our position is much less likely.”

The committee will also meet 8-11 a.m. Aug. 30 at EpiCenter at St. Pete College, 13805 58th St. N., Largo. That evening, the committee will meet from 6-9 p.m. at New College, in the Harry Sudakoff Conference Center, 5845 General Douglas Place, Sarasota. On Aug. 31, the committee will meet from 8-11 a.m. at the Naples Daily News Community Room, 1100 Immokalee Road, Naples, and 6-9 p.m. at Veterans Park Recreation Center, 55 Homestead Road S., Lehigh Acres. The final public hearing is from 8-11 a.m. Sept. 1, at the Hendry County Health Department, Clewiston.

OIR to hold Citizens' rate hearing in Tampa
TAMPA — The Office of Insurance Regulation will hold a public hearing form 4-10 p.m. Sept. 13, at the Tampa Convention Center on proposed increases in homeowners and sinkhole insurance rates for Citizens Property Insurance Corp. As Florida's largest insurer, the state-backed company collected $32 million in sinkhole premiums while paying out nearly $250 million in claims. Sinkhole coverage is generally required by lenders for a mortgage.

A law passed this year allows Citizens to apply for rates that are actuarially sound. Some parts of the state would not see any increases. The statewide average homeowners premium increase for sinkhole coverage is 447%. Citizens' proposed statewide average rate increases for its homeowner's line of business, including sinkhole, are 12.1% for the coastal (formerly high risk) account and 25.4% for the personal lines account (PLA). Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, who heads OIR, has suggested Citizens might want to consider phasing in increases over time.

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