Gas prices jump 4 cents on spring break, Palm Beach prices top state

Spring break got gas prices moving. Florida prices climbed four cents in two days and Palm Beach County pumps dispensed the state’s costliest go juice, averaging $2.65 a gallon.

The statewide average of $2.53 on Sunday is 26 cents more than this time last year, according to AAA The Auto Club Group.

“Demand in the southeast — especially in Florida— is strong, as Americans hit the road for spring break,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins on Monday.

Crude oil prices remained steady but gasoline supplies contracted as refineries switched between seasonal blends, he said. After prices fell early last week, they picked up by Thursday and Friday, officials said.

The market including West Palm Beach and Boca Raton led the way, followed by Naples ($2.59), and Miami ($2.58).

To keep things in perspective, Florida’s average on Sunday was a penny lower than the national average  and well under the highest price on record, $4.08 on July 17, 2008.


Insurer Citizens expects to get bigger after Irma

After Hurricane Irma stung property insurers for $6.3 billion in claims and counting, Florida’s state-run and second-largest carrier expects to add customers in 2018.

The board of state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. met Wednesday in Maitland.

“We’re expecting to go from 442,000 back to 500,000,” Barry Gilway, president of Citizens Property Insurance Corp., told the company’s board about its customer count in a meeting Wednesday.

Citizens has not always been right in its own forecasts, initially failing to predict it would get as small as it has from a high of about 1.5 million customers several years ago.

But as private insurers’ appetite for new business grew during Florida’s 11-year hurricane hiatus ending in 2016, now it is predicted to weaken in Irma’s wake. Many private companies limit their risk exposure, particularly in southeast Florida, for reasons ranging from hurricane risk to assertions that claim costs in the region are abusively inflated by contractors, public adjusters and lawyers.

Citizens customers are free to choose other options in the marketplace where available, but most of its policyholders switch to private insurers through state-administered transfers, such as letters offering to move them to another company. In some cases, such as when private companies offer similar or lower rates compared to Citizens in a state “clearinghouse,” customers do not have a choice to remain with Citizens.

Even at a reduced size, Citizens remains the state’s second largest insurer. Growing to 500,000 customers next year would represent about a 14 percent increase.

The company’s risk exposure, or the value of the properties it covers, is expected to grow from about $112 billion to $120 billion, Gilway said.

Citizens has about 42,000 customers in Palm Beach County.






Citizens insurance customer? There’s a change in your rate change

State regulators approved a 6.6 percent statewide average increase for homeowners covered by state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. next year, and tens of thousands of Palm Beach County residents can expect about a 9 percent jump in premiums.

Chris Gardner (left), chairman of the Citizens board, and president Barry Gilway meet with the Post Editorial Board to discuss issues ahead of the Florida Legislative session in February. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

One twist: Because of unusual circumstances associated with Hurricane Irma, the new rates take effect May 1, not in February as originally requested.

The rate order “balances the needs of policyholders facing challenges from Irma” with a “responsibility to maintain a healthy property insurance market,” said Citizens board chairman Chris Gardner.

The average premium for a  single-family home in Palm Beach County would rise to $2,877 from $2,631, Citizens figured in its rate proposal. Costs will vary for individual policies and some customers, mostly outside South Florida, will see decreases.

Overall, regulators on Wednesday approved an increase only slightly lower than the 6.7 percent statewide hike Citizens wanted, which company officials blamed largely on inflated non-storm claims in South Florida such as plumbing leaks.

Citizens, Florida’s second largest property insurer, covers about 450,000 customers, with more than 42,000 in Palm Beach County.

Customers who get wind-only coverage from Citizens could fare a little better, with an approved increase just under 1 percent compared to a company request of 1.7 percent statewide. Such policies were projected to cost about 2.6 percent more in Palm Beach County in the company’s original request.

Rates in Monroe County have been frozen pending further review of storm damage there.

As of December 4, Irma had resulted in more than 850,000 claims against all  companies with insured losses of nearly $6.3 billion. Citizens said it expects to receive about 70,000 claims, including more than 9,000 from Monroe County, with losses expected to pass $1.2 billion.

Guard against porch pirates stealing packages from doorsteps

The joys of online shopping can turn into disappointment if your packages are stolen off your doorstep.

Known as “porch pirates,” these thieves search neighborhoods for packages and even follow delivery trucks hoping to score a big haul. It’s a growing problem as Americans are doing about half their shopping online this year.

An estimated 25.9 million Americans have had a holiday package stolen from their front porch or doorstep, up from 23.5 million porch thefts reported in 2015, according to  a recent   study conducted by

While they’re on your property, some also steal or vandalize your cherished decorations.

Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst at said, “You could have packages delivered to your office or to a local locker, or use motion detectors, security systems and light timers to fend off thieves.”

Over the past several years, security firms, delivery services and online retailers have tried to find both low- and high-tech solutions for this problem.

For instance, Landport is a secured delivery drop box homeowners can install on their porch or stoop. The box is bolted to its location and features an electronic keypad on which a delivery driver enters a unique access code to open the lid. Prices start at $499.

“Unfortunately, porch theft is a difficult problem to address,” says Monica Eaton-Cardone, co-founder and COO of the risk-mitigation firm Chargebacks911. “While there are organized groups who engage in this practice, it is most often a crime of convenience; the thief sees a package sitting unattended, and simply grabs it.”

Delivery confirmation can help by serving as evidence for a transactions dispute, Cardone says, but it doesn’t prevent the root of the issue: the theft.

On the high-tech end of porch theft solutions is the recently unveiled Amazon Key. When a delivery arrives at your house and you’re not home, the courier scans a barcode that sends a request to Amazon’s cloud.

If it’s approved Amazon remotely unlocks your door and starts recording video through the online retailer’s Cloud Cam. The delivery is left inside the house, the courier relocks the door, and the customer gets an instant notification that the delivery was just made (accompanied by a short video showing the successful drop off).

The service costs $249.99 and includes the smart lock, camera and installation.

Since its release earlier this year the Amazon Key has generated mixed reactions from analysts. Some herald it as a novel approach to solving the porch pirate predicament, while others are skeptical that consumers will be comfortable allowing a stranger access to the home — regardless of the fact that it’s being recorded.

“I think this is an overly ambitious idea that will not catch on initially, but it has promise,” says attorney Marc Lamber, who specializes in the intersection of cutting-edge technology and personal injury law. “Right now I think privacy and safety concerns will outweigh the benefits of preventing porch theft. The idea of giving a ‘key’ to your house to a random delivery driver will not sit well with most people.”

Lamber says consumers are right to be a little skeptical about the Amazon Key at this stage, adding that he can foresee scenarios where the camera does not work and the driver gains entry to your home without you being able to observe what they’re doing. Or perhaps the smart lock does not relock correctly or has a buggy code that grants entry permission to more than one person.

 How can you protect your packages?  Amazon, UPS and FedEx offer several options.

•  Amazon Locker holds Amazon packages for customers. We found only two in Palm Beach County — at Whole Foods in Palm Beach Gardens and Whole Foods in Boca Raton.

• The Amazon Key program , as described above,  for Prime members, allows delivery people to use a key, or key code, for homes with digital locks and alarms so they can enter to deliver packages.

• There’s also the Original Porch Pirate Bag.   The delivery person places the package in the open bag,  seals and locks it. The 30-inch by 40-inch  bag sells for $29.95 on Amazon. It is attached to a post, door handle or something similar near the front door.

•The $89 Package Guard is a Wi-Fi-connected sensor station for package drops. The device sends you an alert when the package arrives. You can create an invite-only group of friends and family who can pick up the package if you aren’t home.

Package Guard sounds a 100-decibel alarm if the device is moved or a package is stolen. It can handle multiple packages from 16 ounces to 100 pounds.

• The FedEx and UPS apps also might be helpful. They allow users to reschedule and even re-route packages in real time. The UPS My Choice feature and FedEx Delivery Manager allow customers to make sure someone is home when the package arrives, or even direct packages to certain locations, such as their workplace or a neighbor’s house.

•Another option is the  U.S. Postal Service’s secure delivery services such as those requiring a recipient’s signature at the time of delivery or registered mail which documents each step in the package’s journey.


Matt Lauer: Area hospice ends commercials after firing

A hospice company serving Palm Beach County said Wednesday it will stop airing commercials with fired NBC Today Show host Matt Lauer.

“We all learned the news this morning that Matt Lauer was terminated from the Today Show after a complaint about ‘inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace’ by another employee,” said a statement from West Palm Beach-based Trustbridge.

“Trustbridge does not condone any type of inappropriate behavior in our workplace,” the statement continued. “We feel strongly that any representation of our brand should reflect our company values in every way. The Matt Lauer commercials will no longer be aired.”

Trustbridge oversees the operations of two combined non-profit hospice providers, Hospice of Palm Beach County and Hospice by the Sea. For years, Lauer helped promote a golf fundraiser and other campaigns for the hospice concern that provided care for his father Peter in 1997. Hospice provides pain relief and other “palliative” care to people who choose to give up curative treatments for terminal illness.

Lauer’s role with hospice became less prominent for a time, though last spring he appeared in YouTube videos related to renovations at Hospice by the Sea.

The Palm Beach Post reported in 2012 that hospice’s financial records showed it did not need charitable donations to cover its expenses in an era when Medicare routinely covers hospice expenses at little or no cost to families.

The hospice had a $90.7 million budget and $5.7 million left after expenses, according to its IRS Form 990 — a publicly available tax return for nonprofits — for the year ended Sept. 30, 2011.

About 99 percent of the hospice’s patients were covered by Medicare, Medicaid, self-pay or third parties in 2011, the hospice reported to the state’s Department of Elder Affairs.

It has been many decades since hospices had to rely on donations to operate and survive, but fundraising appeals have not let up. Two hospice fundraising foundations with similar names gave $3.9 million and $925,000, respectively, to the Palm Beach County-based hospice in 2011, according to their own Form 990 records.

Lauer declined repeated requests for comment though network spokesmen at the time.

Meanwhile, pay for the top 12 executives at non-profit Hospice of Palm Beach County rose to an average of more than $300,000 a year and the CEO’s compensation increased more than 30 percent in one year to more than $710,000, even as the organization fired nearly five percent of its work force including a mother of three with breast cancer, The Post reported.

That was “outrageous” to Stella Monchick-West, who founded Hospice of Palm Beach County in her own home in 1978 and later retired.

Hospice officials said the charitable donations helped pay for things government reimbursement did not cover to enhance care for patients and families, such as  educational and music programs and children’s camps.

Executive bonuses, including more than $288,000 one year for CEO Dave Fielding, were tied in part to the organization’s “gross margin,” or money left over expenses, the Post reported.




Young drivers cause more crashes around Thanksgiving on Florida turnpike highways

Young drivers are more likely to be involved in traffic crashes on Thanksgiving weekend on highways in Florida’s Turnpike system, according to data from Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise.

As a result of a startling report from the federal government last year that showed fatal crashes saw their highest spike in nearly five decades, turnpike engineers conducted their own analysis of traffic data to find trends and possible causes on turnpike system highways, which include the main turnpike, the Sawgrass Expressway and hundreds of miles of other tolled roadways throughout Florida.

>>RELATED: Thanksgiving travel – Local airports brace for busy week


Florida's Turnpike Enterprise is targeting younger drivers with this holiday message encouraging motorists to slow down and pay attention. (Florida's Turnpike Enterprise Twitter, @fl511_turnpike)
Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise is targeting younger drivers with this holiday message encouraging motorists to slow down and pay attention. (Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise Twitter, @fl511_turnpike)

During the Thanksgiving weekend — Wednesday through Sunday — in 2012, 2013 and 2014, the percentage of crashes on the turnpike system caused by drivers ages 16 to 24 jumped from 24 percent during non-holiday months to 37 percent during the holiday weekend. In addition, more than half of turnpike system crashes on the Thanksgiving weekend were caused by careless or negligent drivers.

» RELATED: Older teens at higher risk when it comes to fatal crashes, new report says

In comparison, the next age group is drivers ages 36 to 45, who cause about 22 percent of wrecks on Thanksgiving weekends, turnpike engineers found.

To stem the tide of young drivers involved in crashes around Thanksgiving, the Turnpike Enterprise is doing more community outreach targeted at young drivers who might need a reminder to put down their phones and pay attention to the road.

The electronic turnpike message signs will feature reminders with a “non-traditional approach,” said turnpike spokesman Chad Huff.

For Thanksgiving, drivers will see, “Don’t be a turkey. Slow down, save a life.” Coming up for Christmas: “Nobody likes a holiday crasher. Put down the phone.”

Turnpike officials also will target young drivers via social media, including posts on Twitter and Facebook.

“We’re trying to communicate with drivers, reaching that demographic,” Huff said.

>>RELATED: The best and worst times to drive and fly this Thanksgiving

>>RELATED: Thanksgiving 2017: Best ways to show gratitude 



Reverse mortgage losses threaten taxpayers, borrowers, FHA says

Actor and pitchman Tom Selleck assures seniors that reverse mortgages are not “too good to be true,” but government officials said Wednesday they represent a “substantial economic drain” on federal programs backing them — with a negative net worth growing to $14.5 billion from $7.7 billion a year earlier.

Actor Tom Selleck makes the case for reverse mortgages in advertising.

Claims related to reverse mortgages backed by the federal government rose to $5 billion in the year ended Sept. 30, up about 20 percent from $4.2 billion in one year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said.

HUD officials said the results justify moves effective in October to increase up-front insurance premiums and lower the borrowing limit for home equity that seniors 62 and older can tap in reverse mortgages.  Such changes have been predicted to make reverse mortgages seem less financially attractive, though supporters of the loans say they remain a beneficial option that has already served more than 1 million seniors.

“Our duty is clear—we must make certain FHA remains financially viable so future generations can build wealth and climb the economic ladder of success,” Ben Carson, the HUD Secretary from West Palm Beach, said in a statement Wednesday.

Reverse mortgages, also known as Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) when backed by the government, raise concerns for taxpayers as well as holders of traditional or “forward” mortgages, according to the Federal Housing Administration. Unless trends change, Congress could have to step  in with taxpayer money to stabilize the  program, a step rarely needed, officials said. The single family insurance program has been generally self-sustaining since 1934 with the exception of a $1.7 billion infusion in 2013, which was largely because of reverse mortgages, officials said.

“Today, younger, lower-income homeowners with traditional FHA-insured ‘forward mortgages’ are routinely bailing out the HECM program through the mortgage insurance premiums they pay, placing a significant burden on the overall health of FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund,” according to a “fact sheet” from HUD. “We can no longer tolerate putting American taxpayers and future generations of seniors at risk. Quite simply, the HECM Program is losing money and can no longer remain viable in its present form.”

National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association president Peter Bell said his group “shares Secretary Carson’s optimism that recent policy changes will help sustain the HECM program, which more than a million senior households have used to supplement retirement savings and age in place.”

Bell added, “We are still studying FHA’s Actuarial Report to Congress to understand how the actuaries have modeled the projected valuation of the HECM portfolio. In the past, we’ve raised concerns that actuaries misunderstood the behavior of a HECM loan over time – including how a loan is typically serviced and the home’s value at time of disposition.”

Bell said his group wants to study whether the HECM program should remain in the same fund with other kinds of mortgages, or be separated into its own insurance fund and evaluated on its own.

“This is a conversation we will be having with policy makers at the agency and on Capitol Hill, and with industry stakeholders,” he said.

Bell, whose own father lives in Palm Beach Gardens,  has told The Palm Beach Post concerning recent government changes, “We think what they did is overkill.”

Reverse mortgages, familiar to most people through TV ads with celebrities like Selleck, were created in the late 1980s as a way to let seniors tap equity in their homes without moving out of them — to “age in place.” Instead of making mortgage payments each month, seniors who have paid off or substantially paid down their homes can get monthly or lump-sum payments without having to pay off the loan until they move out or die. A key selling point: The loans are backed by the government.

By law, seniors with reverse mortgages can never owe more than the home is worth, and borrowers pay premiums for federal insurance to pay off loans if they exceed the  home’s value. This insurance also protects borrowers if lenders go out of business before paying out promised amounts.

But consumer agencies and members of Congress have raised caution flags on several issues.

“A reverse mortgage loan can help some older homeowners meet financial needs, but can also jeopardize their retirement if not used carefully,” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray said in August. “For consumers whose main asset is their home, taking out a reverse mortgage to delay Social Security claiming may risk their financial security because the cost of the loan will likely be more than the benefit they gain.”

Besides concerns that lender fees can be substantial on a product not all seniors understand well, others issues have surfaced. One surrounds rules about whether surviving spouses not on the mortgage can lose the house when the homeowner dies, a subject of correspondence in recent months between Carson and lawmakers including Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

Another potential pitfall involves seniors who fall behind on paying taxes and insurance and risk going into default or being forced out of their homes.

More than 18 percent of reverse mortgage loans taken out from 2009 to June 2016 were expected to go into default because of unpaid taxes and insurance, a HUD report last year found.

Nearly 90,000 reverse mortgage loans were at least 12 months behind in payment of taxes and insurance, the agency calculated.

Federal officials have been revising rules for reverse mortgages in an effort to cut down on such problems, but HUD officials said Wednesday the program must continue to be “closely monitored and managed.”

Reverse mortgage trends

Year U.S. Florida Palm Beach County

2017* 55,332 4,808 307

2016 48,902 4,273 411

2015 58,043 4,860 475

2014 51,642 3,834 382

2013 60,091 3,961 371

*Number of loans or “endorsements” for fiscal years ended Sept. 30 except in Palm Beach County, where calendar-year 2017 results reflect January through August.

Source: National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association



Surprise ambulance bills: Watch for white paper by year’s end

Consumers concerned about ambulance charges of hundreds or thousands of dollars after they call 911 can expect a report by the end of the year from a state group that met for a fourth and final time Tuesday.

The contents of the “white paper” could set the stage for what state legislators attempt to do, or not do, in their spring 2018 session.

A big issue: Whether the work of the Emergency Medical Transportation Working Group hosted by Florida insurance consumer advocate Sha’Ron James amounts to a strong case for a ban on “balance billing.” That means public or private ambulance providers, most of whom decline to join insurer networks, could be prohibited from charging consumers more than the equivalent of “in-network” costs.

Ambulance providers warned it could mean higher taxes or reduced services.

“If you don’t have balance billing, then you’re asking the taxpayers of Stuart to pick up the difference,” said Stuart Fire Rescue Chief David Dyal.

There’s only so much “blood in the turnip” of taxpayer support, he said.

In many cases, ambulance providers say, consumers are paying more because their health plans increasingly make them responsible for higher deductibles.

But groups representing insurers argue there has to be some incentive for ambulance providers to negotiate rates — particularly with air transport, where charges can run into tens of thousands of dollars — or consumers will increasingly get hit with big bills they do not expect.

Fearing such charges becomes a public-safety issue if consumers hesitate to call 911 when they really need fast help.

“If God forbid we were in an emergency in the future, I would think twice about calling an ambulance,” Bonny Fishman of Boynton Beach said in February about charges of more than $800 for her husband’s ground ambulance ride.

“There are points where stakeholders are clearly apart,” James said Tuesday, but “we’re all here to work for the best interests of patients or consumers or policyholders.”



Stunned by an ambulance bill? Watch this meeting

If you’ve ever been surprised by a bill for hundreds or thousands of dollars for ambulance service, you can follow the fourth and final meeting Tuesday of a group that aims to help state legislators decide what to do about it in coming months.

Bonny and Ed Fishman said they were surprised by an ambulance charge of more than $800. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

The Florida Channel will be streaming live the 9 a.m. Oct. 31 meeting in Tallahassee of the Emergency Medical Transportation Working Group, hosted by Florida insurance consumer advocate Sha’Ron James.

“I was shocked,” Edward Fishman, 64, of Boytnon Beach told the Palm Beach Post in February about ambulance charges of more than $800. “What is this? We pay taxes for fire and rescue. Why is there a charge? How do they determine how much they charge?”

While grateful for emergency help, many consumers feel frustrated that they pay taxes for county or city ambulances plus insurance premiums, only to get hit with additional charges they were not expecting after they call 911.

Such charges have been rising. They can range from several hundred dollars to more than $1,000 for ground ambulances. In the case of air ambulances, charges can quickly run into the tens of thousands of dollars, a devastating threat to a family’s finances.

Median air ambulance charges doubled in four years to $30,000 per transport, a Government Accountability Office report in July found.

Under Florida law, ambulance providers can, in effect, charge consumers virtually any amount they choose after the insurance payment has come in. This is an emergency situation where patients can’t shop around, consumers say.  It raises a public safety issue if families, facing panicky situations where the severity of an injury or medical condition may be unclear, hesitate to call 911 out of fear they could receive charges they cannot afford.

“If God forbid we were in an emergency in the future, I would think twice about calling an ambulance,” Bonny Fishman, 62, said in February.

One possible legislative solution: End “balance billing.” That means ambulance services cannot charge consumers whatever amount they say is left over after they have collected payment from insurers. Under this concept, consumer charges could be capped at the equivalent of “in-network” services. In essence, ambulance providers would have to work out payments with insurers, and hold consumers harmless.

Public and private ambulance providers generally refuse to join insurer networks, and many argue taxes could rise or private providers could go out of business if they are forced to do so.

Perhaps the first thought for patients should be “did they survive to complain about the bill in the first place?” said Mac Kemp, deputy chief of clinical affairs for Leon County Emergency Medical Services, representing the Florida Association of Counties.

After heavy lobbying, ambulances were left out of a bill that passed two years ago to cap other kinds of consumer charges in medical situations where consumers cannot realistically choose other providers, such as an out-of-network anesthesiologist at an in-network hospital.

“Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to hear from a variety of stakeholders regarding ground and air emergency medical transportation services in Florida,” James said. “I look forward to moving the discussion forward by making policy recommendations that will ultimately protect consumers from suffering financially after recovering from an emergency medical event.”

The working group’s effort is coming to a close, but legislators are just starting their work for the 2018 session — so it matters that they hear from people who care about this issue. Tell your state legislator. Tell Post reporter Charles Elmore at (561) 820-4811 or

Or you can share your story online with James’s office here:





Bill to let cops pull over Fla. drivers for texting clears first stop

After years of stalled legislation, a bill to let police pull over Florida drivers for texting passed its first state legislative committee of the 2018 session Tuesday.

The Palm Beach Post reported in June that crash reports listing distracted driving rose 10 percent in Florida in 2016, according to records the newspaper requested. Injuries associated with texting rose 45 percent in Palm Beach County.

But state legislators last spring declined to strengthen what advocates call some of the lightest penalties in the nation for drivers texting on cell phones.

“It drives me crazy the law is so weak,” said Steve Augello, whose daughter was killed in the Tampa area in a crash he believes was caused by another driver’s texting.

On Tuesday, SB 90, sponsored by state Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, passed the Senate communications, energy and public utilities committee 7-1.

“All too often we hear of the tragic stories of families that have been affected by someone who was texting behind the wheel,” Perry said. “I’m proud to sponsor this vital piece of legislation that will make texting and driving a primary offense in the State of Florida and join the many other states who have answered the call for safer roadways.”

Florida is one of five states that do not make texting while driving a primary offense. That means police have to stop a motorist for another reason, such as speeding, to write a citation. A fine is $30, though Florida Highway Patrol officials say in Palm Beach County local add-on fees make it $116.

“This is an important step for saving lives on Florida roads,” said Logan McFaddin, regional manager for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, representing nearly 1,000 members. “We need to change driver behavior, and we believe that toughening the distracted driving laws will save lives by encouraging people to think twice about picking up the phone while driving.”

Safety is the top priority, she said, “but the increase in accidents also could be impacting consumers’ insurance costs. The recent spike in the number of auto accidents resulting from distracted driving comes at a time when repair, labor, medical and other costs associated with accidents are also rising.”

It’s still early in the process, and skeptical legislators in past years have questioned whether there’s proof that texting-while-driving bans in other states have reduced accident rates.

“My main concern here is not giving people false hope that this is going to solve the problem,” said state Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth. “If we really want to do something to solve the problem, we should just not have people be able to use their phones while driving.”

But passing a committee represents a more promising start than some bills have enjoyed in the past.

“Our number of distracted driving injuries and deaths are rising and our laws are not getting any better,” Rep. Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton and a sponsor of House legislation, said in June. Last session, she noted, “none of my bills actually received a hearing.”