The Florida Chamber of Commerce said a recent state decision to increase workers’ compensation rates will force over $1.5 billion in costs onto employers and will benefit “billboard” lawyers at the potential expense of injured workers.
After the National Council on Compensation Insurance accepted the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation’s recommended 14.5 percent rate increase on Oct. 4, business advocates criticized the state for hoisting an extra burden onto Sunshine State businesses.
“Job creators across Florida will now be forced to pick up a $1.5 billion tab that, disturbingly, is not about employee safety or protecting workers (but) about increasing compensation for plaintiff trial lawyers,” Mark Wilson, Florida Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, said. “A rate increase this big, this sudden, hurts Florida’s competitiveness and employers large and small. Many businesses will be forced to delay hiring – or even cut existing staff – to cover this leap in their workers’ comp premiums.”
The decision followed Florida Supreme Court rulings that declared certain aspects of the state’s workers’ comp system unconstitutional.
At least two state lawmakers backed the chamber’s perspective. State Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton) said it was important to inform newer legislature members of previous reforms. “(Make) sure that the voice of the Florida chamber is heard in those deliberations and make sure you understand who the decision makers are in that process,” Galvano said.
State Rep. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples), who is running for a state Senate seat in District 28, echoed Galvano’s viewpoint, stating that stakeholders should address the issue from a broader perspective as soon as possible.