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Sen. Rob Bradley

House moves toward Senate on must-pass workers’ compensation legislation

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The Senate refused Friday to move toward the House position on workers’ compensation reform, but the House gave ground on how much to pay attorneys handling claims appeals. Senate bill sponsor Rob Bradley offered an amendment that would have split the difference between the two chambers by paying attorneys as much as $200 per hour, but the Senate chose on a voice vote to retain his original language — $250. The Senate voted, 21-16, to send the bill to the House…

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Insurance bill sponsor insists it won’t become a train for AOB, PIP

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When Lee Jacobson heard that that an insurance omnibus bill had been pulled from the Rules Committee onto the Senate floor Wednesday, he hightailed it to Tallahassee. The Orlando insurance and personal-injury attorney, active in the Florida Justice Association, was watching his daughter play soccer at the time. “I ran home, threw two suits in a bag and grabbed two one-way flights to get here,” Jacobson said Thursday morning. His fear was that the bill — CS/CS/SB 454 — would…

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Amendment would move Senate workers’ comp fix closer to House language

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The sponsor of the Senate workers’ compensation bill has edged toward the House position regarding the maximum attorney fees payable in claims litigation. Sen. Rob Bradley filed an amendment to his bill Wednesday trimming the maximum hourly fee to $200 — down from $250 in his original bill, but more than the $150 contemplated in the House. The amendment also would require the Department of Financial Services to engage an independent consultant to study the system for reimbursing medical providers…

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Lawmakers, lobbyists begin to contemplate an extended session

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House Speaker Richard Corcoran insisted Tuesday that he still hoped to complete a budget deal in time to adjourn on schedule Friday — but other lawmakers and Tallahassee’s lobbyists have begun clearing their calendars for next week. “I think it’s 90 percent likely,” Corcoran said of chances the negotiations with the Senate could be wrapped up that day, conceivably allowing a timely adjournment. Sen. Jeff Brandes wasn’t counting on it. “Monday — it’s my best guess. That’s my math,” Brandes…

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Joe Negron’s signature Lake Okeechobee project headed to governor’s desk

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The Senate voted Tuesday to send a trimmed-down version of SB 10, Senate President Joe Negron’s Lake Okeechobee restoration plan, to Gov. Rick Scott. The 33-0 vote followed approval by the House earlier in the day. Under amendments adopted in the House, and accepted in the Senate, bonding authority to acquire land and construct reservoirs would shrink from $1.2 billion to $800 million, bill sponsor Rob Bradley explained. The complete price tag for the project is $1.5 billion. The project…

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Senate workers’ compensation bill acquires firefighter cancer amendment

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The Senate’s workers’ compensation bill moved out of the Appropriations Committee Thursday after picking up an amendment declaring two forms of cancer occupational hazards for Florida’s 40,000 firefighters. The amendment — sponsored by Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala and vice chairwoman Anitere Flores, and not by bill sponsor Rob Bradley — names multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recognized a higher risk of those cancers among firefighters, Latvala said. Sen. Jeff Brandes objected that…

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Senate approves plan to fix Lake Okeechobee, end algae invasions

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Senate President Joe Negron’s $1.5 billion plan to fix Lake Okeechobee, and stop overflows of toxic “guacamole water” into the state’s rivers and streams, passed the Senate Wednesday on a vote of 36-3. Last June’s overflow of toxic algae blooms, which devastated tourism and sickened many people, and prompted Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency, is forcing the state’s hand, bill sponsor Rob Bradley argued. “I promised my constituents that we would dramatically expand southern storage by…

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