House ready to pass workers' comp plan
After rejecting a series of amendments proposed by Democrats, the Republican-dominated Florida House is ready to approve changes to the state's workers' compensation insurance system.
The House could vote as soon as Wednesday on the proposed changes (HB 7085), sponsored by Insurance & Banking Chairman Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills.
But the House and Senate remain divided about key issues, including potential limits on fees paid to injured workers' attorneys in disputes about benefits.
The House wants maximum fees of $150 an hour, while the Senate wants a maximum of $250 an hour.
Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach, proposed an amendment Tuesday that would have eliminated the $150 cap, but the proposal was rejected in a voice vote.
The proposed changes come after regulators last year approved a 14.5 percent insurance rate increase for businesses.
That stemmed, in part, from a Florida Supreme Court ruling that struck down strict limits on fees for workers' attorneys.
In debating amendments Tuesday, Democrats repeatedly argued that the bill would not do enough to help workers, while supporters of the bill pointed to the need to hold down insurance costs.
The Senate Rules Committee is scheduled Wednesday to take up the Senate workers' compensation bill (SB 1582).
Senate sponsor Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said Tuesday he doesn't expect to make significant changes before the measure goes to the full Senate.
That would lead to the House and Senate needing to work out their differences before the regular legislative session ends May 5.
News Service of Florida