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Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for 29 counties in the wake of Tropical Storm Nate, which could impact the Florida Panhandle and North Florida areas as a hurricane this weekend. While forecasters say it seems to tracking more toward the west, Scott is still urging residents to be prepared.

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Florida’s small businesses should see their workers’ compensation rates drop at the beginning of next year. State Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty has ordered an average premium reduction of 5.2 percent. That’s a deeper cut than the 2.5 percent insurers originally requested.

Taylor Gibson manages the Tallahassee branch of Two Men and a Truck moving company. He says the cuts will take a burden off businesses.

Citizens Property Insurance has reached a settlement with some 300 policy holders over sinkhole repair coverage. Officials say they’ll pay underground repairs in full.

Federal healthcare "Navigators" meant to help low-income people sign up for health insurance have been barred from Florida’s county health departments. Health reform advocates are blasting the state for hindering access to coverage with the Navigator program scheduled to begin in two weeks.

jfcherry / Flickr Creative Commons

Months after reversing his position on expanding Medicaid coverage in Florida, Gov. Scott and other members of the Florida Cabinet say they aren’t sure giving personal information to insurance navigators is a safe bet. This week, Scott even accused the federal government of using a person’s sensitive information to populate a national database.

“We cannot stop the president’s plan to create a new federal database that compiles person information on Floridians and all U.S. citizens who enter the federal healthcare exchanges,” Scott said during a cabinet meeting Tuesday in Miami.

The Florida Channel

Florida healthcare reform supporters say Governor Rick Scott went too far Tuesday when he accused the federal government of using federal insurance exchanges slated to start later this year to create a government database of private information.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has 65 bills on its Thursday schedule. Some of those bills passed easily—like Senate bill 1036 by Senator Nancy Detert,(R-Venice) said the measure will extend foster care from age 18 to age 21.

“We’ve talked about business and insurance and everything else, but this bill changes lives. It extends foster care from age 18 to age 21 with practically no new money. It’s miraculous,” Detert said.

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation is reviewing a rate increase request by State Farm that could affect more than 33,000 renter's insurance policy holders. The company wants to raise rates on those policies by an average of 50-percent. Some policies could go higher.

State Farm is Florida’s third- largest property insurer with more than 460,000 policies. That’s even after years of scaling back the number of policies it writes and dropping customers. But it still continues to promote its services with its catchy jingle,  “Like a good neighbor state farm is there."

Capital Report: 07-20-2012

Jul 20, 2012

As Floridians continue cleaning up after Tropical Storm Debby, residents all over the state are filing insurance claims to cover the losses of their homes, boats and cars. The storm also left hundreds of property owners contending with destructive and expensive sinkholes. As Jessica Palombo reports, Debby’s direct hit, months before the peak of hurricane season, adds fuel to a debate over Florida’s property insurance market.

Storm Season Revives State-Run Property Insurance Debate

Jul 20, 2012

As Floridians continue cleaning up after Tropical Storm Debby, residents all over the state are filing insurance claims to cover the losses of their homes, boats and cars. The storm also left hundreds of property owners contending with destructive and expensive sinkholes. Debby’s direct hit, months before the peak of hurricane season, adds fuel to a debate over Florida’s property insurance market. Policymakers are warning the state-run Citizens Property Insurance needs to raise rates and drop customers to avoid an even bigger financial catastrophe for Florida residents.

Capital Report: 06-08-2012

Jun 8, 2012

A battle is heating up over Florida voters, but it isn’t political candidates who are fighting. Voter registration groups claimed victory in court as a judge struck down parts of the state’s election law last week. And this week, the state stands defiant against a federal order to stop purging non-citizen voters. As Jessica Palombo reports, these fights over voting rights have pitted Florida Governor Rick Scott against the federal government and against all 67 of the state’s supervisors of Elections.

Capital Report: 05-25-2012

May 25, 2012

This year’s school and district grades will look a lot different this year, due to a variety of reasons. But one of them has stirred much discussion and debate within the disability community. This year, for the first time, students with disabilities will be fully-included in the school grade formula. Lynn Hatter reports, the biggest impact will be on schools that only serve students with disabilities.

Capital Report: 03-08-2012

Mar 8, 2012

The budget is complete. But in a frantic race to finish Friday, the legislature is debating policy reforms to health care, auto insurance and failing public schools. James Call reports an ever-changing bi-partisan coalition is putting up obstacles for all three issues to clear by tomorrow/tonight’s scheduled adjournment.

Capital Report: 02-16-2012

Feb 16, 2012

Governor Rick Scott signed a bill Thursday to give a boost to Florida’s commercial space industry.  James Call reports, the measure will free up federal and state dollars to help build the facilities needed to launch equipment and people into space. 

It seems nearly everyone at the Florida Capitol now agrees that personal injury protection or “PIP” insurance fraud is a big problem.  Tom Flanigan reports the only thing those people disagree about is how to fix the problem…

After several years of steady decreases, Florida businesses have seen recent hikes in their workers’ compensation payments.  Tom Flanigan reports a house committee was trying to reverse that trend Thursday.

Capital Report: 02-06-2012

Feb 6, 2012

Vice President Joe Biden is carrying the message of making college more affordable throughout Florida this week. Monday he stopped in Tallahassee at Florida State University to talk about the rising cost of tuition—an issue that’s been front and center in state politics recently. But Lynn Hatter reports when it comes to the issue of holding down costs in higher education—some say it shouldn’t come at the cost of financial aid to students who need it the most.    

                 

 

Last year, Florida lawmakers didn’t approve a bill giving all state workers the same contribution for their health coverage.  But Tom Flanigan reports that bill may be more successful this year.

Governor Rick Scott had pushed the idea almost from the moment he took office.  All State of Florida employees would get five thousand dollars a year to help them buy health insurance, whether individual or family coverage.   That concept resurfaced in the House Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Robert Schenck, Republican of Spring Hill.