Car rates

Two laws, lower pay rates for workers will come into force

A pair of bills signed this year by Governor Ron DeSantis, involving vehicle rentals and public notaries, will become law on Saturday.

Meanwhile, also starting on Saturday, Florida employers will see an average 4.9% drop in workers’ compensation insurance rates.

The Vehicle Rental Measure (SB 566) defines insurance and other requirements for people participating in peer-to-peer carsharing programs.

In part, the bill requires that during times of carsharing, vehicle owners and rental drivers be insured to at least the minimum requirements of state law. It also requires carpooling programs to oversee the collection and remittance of taxes.

“We reflect what is required by Enterprise or Alamo and the others,” Senate bill sponsor Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, said at an April meeting of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

But Senator Gary Farmer, a Democrat from Lighthouse Point who was among 12 Senators and 15 House Members who voted against the proposal, asked the Appropriations Committee whether the measure would provide “proper guarantees.”

“I am not a car rental company. I’m not going to find out, to check the validity of a driver’s license, ”said Farmer, a litigator. “Maybe you have a whole DUI story and I don’t know about it. And now I entrust my car to you. Cars are considered dangerous implements under Florida state law. So we do a lot of things to protect our residents in general. That’s why we have the rule that a car owner is generally responsible for anyone they let use their car.

Lawmakers passed the Car Rental and Notary Bills (HB 121) in the legislative session that ended in April. Most of the bills passed during the session entered into force on July 1, which also marked the start of the state’s fiscal year.

The Notaries Bill expands a 2019 law that allowed remote online notarizations in the state.

Representative Sam Garrison, a Republican from Fleming Island who sponsored the measure, said at a March Judiciary Committee meeting that the changes are designed to address issues that have arisen as the coronavirus pandemic escalates the use of remote notary platforms.

Among the changes, the law requires platforms to store video of notary sessions, orders the State Department to include a list of platform providers on its website, and allows court reporters to remotely swear in witnesses and to newly admitted lawyers via audio-video technology. The law also prohibits the sale of the personal information of users of the platform.

A third bill (HB 54) that lawmakers sent to DeSantis with an implementation date of January 1 would have eliminated the state’s no-fault insurance system – and its requirement that motorists be covered by a Personal Injury Protection, or PIP. But it was among five bills that DeSantis vetoed in the 2021 session.

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In vetoing the measure, DeSantis said the no-fault system has flaws and state law involving bad faith litigation — an issue that can lead to costly lawsuits over how insurers deal with claims — is “deficient”. However, DeSantis said the proposal “does not adequately address the current issues facing Florida drivers and could have unintended consequences that would negatively impact both the market and consumers.”

On December 2, Senate Speaker Wilton Simpson R-Trilby suggested that the issue of no-fault repeal could come up in the 2022 session, which begins on January 11.

Although this was not the outcome of the legislative session, employers will continue to see lower workers’ compensation insurance rates in 2022. Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier issued an order in November fixing the decline 4.9% average, which will begin to take effect on Saturday.

This came after an average drop of 6.6% that took effect in 2021.

“Safer workplaces, innovative techniques and improved risk management practices have resulted in a continuing decline in workers’ compensation claims, ultimately benefiting Florida businesses,” Altmaier said in a statement prepared in November.

By Jim Turner