Appeals court allows workers' compensation premium hike to take effect – Florida Politics (blog)
A state appeals court allowed a 14.5 percent increase in workers’ compensation insurance premiums to take effect on schedule Thursday, amid legal scrambling over whether the hike was illegal.
The 1st District Court of Appeal acted even before a trial judge could decide on a request to delay her ruling last week invalidating the increase under Florida’s open-government laws.
For her part, Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers ruled following a brief hearing in her chambers that no stay was warranted.
“It would not be appropriate for this court to approve further violation of the Sunshine Law and Public Records Law,” Gievers said.
But she bowed to the inevitability that the case would be resolved on appeal.
“I’m just trying to get you to the appellate court, where you want to be,” she told attorneys present in person and participating by telephone.
Even before resolution of the legal situation, businesses were treating the increase as a fact of life.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce, for example, issued a written statement complaining that the increase, as applied to new and renewal policies written during the next 12 months, would cost employers $1.5 billion.
“Many businesses are telling us they will be forced to delay hiring, or even cut existing jobs, in order to cover this increase in their premiums,” Carolyn Johnson, director for business policy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, said in a written statement.
“A rate like this puts Florida’s competitiveness and job creation directly at risk.”
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation approved the increase in September, based on recommendations by the National Council on Compensation Insurance, or NCCI.
The office has designated NCCI as the rating agency for workers’ compensation insurers in the state.
James Fee, a Miami workers’ compensation attorney, filed suit, arguing that NCCI’s quasi-official status