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On PIP, Scott's lead in the Senate is Richter, not Negron

The person responsible for the Senate's approach to reforming Florida's no-fault auto insurance law is Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart.

Not if you ask Gov. Rick Scott, who's made fixing PIP his top priority this last week of session.

“Sen. (Garrett) Richter, from southwest Florida, he is the lead in the Senate," Scott said on the Ft. Myers-based "Daybreak with Drew Steele" show on Tuesday. "He’s doing the right things to get that done.”

Did Scott flub (or snub?) the sponsor of his priority legislation?

The Senate is expected to vote on SB 1860, its stab at PIP reform, today. But Scott prefers the insurer and business-group favored House version, HB 119, which is miles apart from the Senate's approach.

So does Richter.

Richter, R-Naples, said he and Scott agree on how to reform PIP, and he's talked with Scott or his aides roughly a half-dozen times to talk about the issue.

“Sen. Negron has been the point person on the bill, but I expressed early on to the governor my support for his position,” Richter said.

Richter has proposed several amendments to SB 1860, many aimed at limiting attorney’s fees. Negron, an attorney, has pushed for tightening licensing of medical clinics, creating a statewide anti-fraud task force and removing massage therapy and accupuncture from the PIP system.

The House proposal caps lawyer fees in most cases and doesn’t allow a multiplier provision that Richter attempted to remove from SB 1860. Senators instead voted Tuesday to allow fee multipliers, setting off a major political dustup on the floor.

The Senate’s version of PIP reform isn’t as strong as what the House has done, Richter said.

“I believe that the House bill will make greater strides to addressing the fraudulent activity in PIP and the over-utilization of services,” he said.

By Times/Herald staff writers TiaMitchell and Katie Sanders.