- March 4, 2012
It's actions like these that give politicians their bad name.
Led by Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, and at the urging of trial lawyers, the Senate Judiciary Committee gutted a workers' compensation bill that had been previously approved in the Banking and Insurance Committee.
Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, the sponsor of the bill, sits on both committees and was the lone vote against his own bill — as amended.
A strike-all amendment by Ring that completely changed the bill passed by a 5-4 margin in the Judiciary Committee leading to the final 8-1 vote.
Ring, who lists his occupation as “Entrepreneur” is also the vice chair of the Policy and Steering Committee on Commerce and Industry and the Florida Select Committee on Florida's Economy. Huh?
The issue was listed as “Topic 1” in the week seven legislative update on the Florida Chamber of Commerce Web site.
The chamber news item states, “We are disappointed that the Senate adopted these amendments since they will not address the problems created by the Murray vs. Mariner Health Supreme Court decision and will result in higher rates paid by
Florida employers if enacted into law.”
The bill had one other committee stop in the Senate on April 20. The companion bill in the House, HB 903, is generally favored by businesses.
If the two bills cannot be reconciled, the 6.4% increase in workers' comp rates that went into effect on April 1 will stand.
The Florida Chamber is urging its members to take action with the explanation that the amendment allows “trial lawyers to hijack” the original intent of the legislation and allows the lawyers to be paid more than their clients — injured workers in this case — receive in benefits.