On Tuesday, December 13, the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee held an introductory meeting and a public hearing on the issue of workers compensation. Chaired by Senator Anitere Flores (R-Miami, the Keys) Senators heard testimony from all the stakeholders, including representatives from the trial bar, the workers’ union, the Florida Chamber, Associated Industries of Florida, the insurance carriers and the construction industry. Speaking on behalf of the Florida Home Builders Association and the National Utility Contractors Association of Florida (NUCA FL), lobbyist Kari Hebrank addressed the Committee relaying that reforming the workers compensation system to drive down costs was a top legislative priority and that the importance to the construction industry could not be understated given that the industry was just beginning to recover from the economic tsunami that crippled the building and development community. Hebrank also testified that the financial impact of the 14.5% increase was cumulative for small, family-owned businesses dealing with rising workers compensation rates and increased health care premiums for employees. Moreover, Hebrank reiterated the importance to employers of getting injured workers back to work swiftly as the industry faces a critical workforce shortage (another legislative priority). Lastly, Hebrank told the Senators NUCA of Florida stands ready as a partner in finding a workable solution to reign in escalating workers compensation costs.

View the Senate Banking & Insurance hearing.