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Florida Law Recap: Insurance, Driving & Sexual Harassment

Insurance: Florida’s auto insurance repeal-and-replace bill is DOA and prospects look slim for reviving Sen. Tom Lee’s (R- Thonotosassa) bid to repeal Florida’s $10,000 Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage requirement and replace it with a requirement that motorists buy liability and medical payments coverage. A Senate panel recently voted 6-1 not to advance the bill.

The Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee overwhelmingly voted against the measure (SB 150), which called for repealing the system that requires motorists to carry $10,000 in personal-injury protection, or PIP, coverage. The bill would have led to requiring bodily-injury coverage as a replacement.

 The legislation, one of House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s priorities, would have ended the state’s no-fault auto insurance law and moved Florida to an at-fault system similar to those in 38 other states. The auto insurance industry opposes the bill, which would have eliminated the requirement that vehicle owners buy personal injury protection coverage. Instead, if enacted, vehicle owners would have had to buy bodily injury liability coverage that would cover people in other vehicles if the policyholder caused an injury.

Texting While Driving: A bill to make texting while driving a primary offense is stalled in the state Senate.  A proposal (HB 33 and SB 90) to allow law-enforcement officers to pull over people for texting while driving cruised through the House and had advanced through the Senate but it died in the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill faced concerns about issues such as minority drivers facing increased racial profiling if texting while driving became a “primary” traffic offense. Texting while driving is currently a secondary offense, meaning it is illegal, but an officer has to stop a driver for another violation first.

#MeToo: Earlier this year, the Florida Legislature was so rattled by sexual harassment allegations that lawmakers proposed legislation addressing the problem and described such anticipated laws as “transformative.”

Reps. Kristin Jacobs (D-Coconut Creek) and Jennifer Sullivan (R-Mount Dora) introduced HB 7007, a bill that would make a single unwelcome advance an actionable offense.  HB 7007 would have also required employee and public officer training as well as compel supervisors who observe or have direct knowledge of sexual harassment to respond promptly and initiate required actions. The bill would establish a task force to make recommendations on how to combat sexual harassment.

The bill makes sexual harassment a crime, punishable by the Florida Commission on Ethics. It outlaws unwanted sexual advances by legislators, candidates for public office, agency employees, and lobbyists while imposing new penalties on violators. Proposed laws would likewise prohibit the use of political funds for legal defense, an open shot at former state Senator Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who used money for his gubernatorial campaign to pay for legal bills in a sexual harassment suit. Latvala resigned in January 2018 and is under criminal investigations as a result of allegations of sexual harassment against him.

The House approved HB 7007 that attached anti-sexual harassment language to other ethics issues, but the Senate didn’t go along with tying the issues together.

If you have questions about insurance, driving rules, and sexual harassment don’t hesitate to call Corless Barfield Trial Group today at 877-517-5595 or 813-258-4998.

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