Florida Governor Rick Scott, center, was all smiles Friday night on the Senate floor after the passage of the PIP bill. Senator Jim Norman, R- Tampa can be seen in the front. On the right, back, Senator Eleanor Sobel, D- Hollywood, who voted against the bill, did not greet the Governor. [Scott Keeler, Times]
The Senate approved personal injury protection reform on a razor thin 21-19 vote in favor of the “strike all” amendment then a 22-17 vote in favor of HB 119. Democratic Sen. Bill Montford of Tallahassee was the deciding vote initially, breaking with his caucus to support the compromise.
During debate on the legislation, Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll was seen in the wings of the Senate chambers. She chatted up members as they stepped out for a beverage.
Right after the Senate approved the “strike all” amendment to HB 119, Gov. Rick Scott came into the chambers and congratulated Senate President Mike Haridopolos. The governor's office said he also passed out handwritten notes to Senate supporters.
The vote allows both Scott and Haridopolos to close out the session with a victory.
“This is a triumphant moment for the residents of Florida,” Scott said via a news release issued minute after the Senate voted. “Members of the legislature heard our call to put Floridians ahead of special interests and combat the fraud that has become a billion dollar tax on drivers.”
Eight Republicans voted against the measure alongside Democrats: Mike Bennett of Bradenton, Charlie Dean of Inverness, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla of Coral Gables, Paula Dockery of Lakeland, Mike Fasano of New Port Richey, Rene Garcia of Hialeah, Dennis Jones of Seminole and Ronda Storms of Valrico.
Scott’s full statement:
“This is a triumphant moment for the residents of Florida. Members of the legislature heard our call to put Floridians ahead of special interests and combat the fraud that has become a billion dollar tax on drivers. I applaud Chief Financial Officer Atwater, Speaker Cannon, Senate President Haridopolos, Representative Boyd, Senator Negron and Senator Richter and the many Florida newspapers and media outlets for uniting the legislature behind a solution to the auto insurance fraud problem.
“This is a bill that delivers on my promise to reduce the cost of living in this state by reducing fraud, stopping the growing cost related to accident fraud and ultimately saving Floridians money that otherwise would have found its way into the pockets of fraudsters, unethical providers and trial lawyers. I applaud the legislature for this decision that will help every Floridian policyholder.
“With the passage of auto insurance fraud reform, my job creation agenda and $1 billion for K-12 education, it is safe to say this session has been a victory for all Floridians.”