Gallagher & Associates Team

Gallagher & Associates Team

Friday, November 13, 2009

2009 Legislative Update

Over 2,600 hundred bills were filed this past legislative session, but only a fraction of those bills were heard, and an even smaller number actually passed through both chambers. The following are a few bills that were passed that are of particular significance to the legal field, consumers, employers and businesses:

Workman's Compensation Attorney Gee Glitch (HB 903):
A victory for Florida employers, this bill will restores a cap on attorneys' fees in worker's compensation cases and ensure that injured workers get more in benefits then their lawyers receive in attorney's fees.

Buren of Proof in Property Tax Challenges (HB 521):
This bill lowers the burden of proof in property tax challenges from "clear and convincing evidence" to a "preponderance of the evidence" and helps to level the playing field between the taxpayer and the property appraiser. This is bill is the result of the Florida Chamber and the Florida Association of Realtors' continuing fight to restore fairness in Florida's broken property tax system.

Court Funding (SB 2108):
In an effort to create greater efficiency for the court system, this bill consolidates the activities of judicial clerks by removing some of the duties from the clerks and transferring them to the judiciary. In addition, this bill imposes a requirement on the clerks to undergo the same budgetary process that other state government entities are required to undergo.

Crash Tax Ban (SB 2282):
Recently, local governments have proposed laws that would allow for the billing of motorists involved in accidents for any emergency response services required. However, this bill bans any such legislation and prevents this additional burden on Florida consumers and business.

While several bills of great significance were passed, many remained unheard in either chamber. For instance, a bill that would strengthen the standard for expert testimony in Florida courts did not make it to the floor of either chamber. Since Florida is among a minority of states still following an out-dated standard for regulating expert testimony, this bill would have helped in preventing the unfair decisions resulting from Florida's current expert testimony standards.

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