In October we held our long-range planning meeting for the Workers’ Compensation Section. Rosemary Eure is heading up the committee which is drafting a long-range plan for our section. We are focusing on continuing to improve communication with our members. We want to provide information and assistance to our members in the quickest and most efficient manner. The meeting was very successful and had excellent attendance and participation.
The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) recommended another rate decrease in workers’ compensation premiums for employers of 5.4%. While this sounded good for industry, the insurance commissioner and CFO Jimmy Patronis reviewed the filing and determined the proper rate reduction should be 7.5%. This is very good news for Florida businesses and is proof that the reaction by NCCI to the Supreme Court’s decisions in Castellanos and Miles was overblown. Since those decisions, Florida businesses have seen rate reductions of over 20%. This is confirmation that the reforms of 2003 worked. The results and rates are proof that the Supreme Court’s decisions in Castellanos and Miles did not have the negative impact that NCCI thought might happen. It again shows the Florida economy is strong and employers are benefiting from the reforms.
The Statewide Judicial Nominating Commission was finally able to get three applicants for Judge Diane Beck’s position and recently met to interview the candidates. The difficulty in getting three people to apply should be a concern to all of us and is likely the result of the judges not having a pay increase in over 13 years! The section continues to support legislation to provide a much-needed pay raise for the judges of compensation claims, and the issue remains a part of our legislative platform.
Please help us support this positive legislation by speaking to your state senators and representatives and encouraging them to support this pay raise for the judges. Remember to tell them that not one penny of the judges’ pay or the pay raise will come from General Tax Revenue. 100% of the money comes from the Administrative Trust Fund which is 100% funded by a percentage of workers’ compensation premium payments and no tax revenue is used to fund the Workers’ Compensation system.
If the workers’ compensation system is to remain stable, we must have good judges who work hard and who issue sound rulings based on the law and the facts. These judges must be learned in the law and be willing to give up their law practices to serve the people of the state of Florida. Sound rulings following the law lead to a more efficient system and help all lawyers who practice workers’ compensation to give sound advice to their clients.
All of us who practice in the area of workers’ compensation work in a very stressful environment. It is important for us to take care of both our physical and mental health. If you ever have problems and need someone to talk with or need to get help, please reach out to your executive council members or to your friends in the legal community as we all need to be there to help each other.
I hope everyone is enjoying a safe and happy holiday season, and I wish everyone the best of health and happiness in 2020.
Glen D. Wieland