Posts

Meet The Florida Citizen Lobbyists backing ALAC in the 2014 Legislative Session

The Florida version of the American Law for American Courts (ALAC) is up for its fourth try in the 2014 Legislative session in Tallahassee. In contrast to prior years, there is concerted effort by bill sponsors, Sen. Alan Hays (R- Umatilla) and Rep. Neil Combee in the House of Representatives to seek Senate and House leadership, as well as Committee commitments for passage of the bills. There is also  new message that was conveyed to Florida legislators on both House and Senate Committees; Senate Bill 0386/House Bill 903:  “acceptance of foreign law in certain cases”.  The message is that ALAC guards against the recognition of foreign laws in Florida Courts in violation of fundamental Constitutional rights of all citizens, especially women and children.

Professor Margaret McClain

Professor Margaret McClain at CFC 2014 Legislative Prayer Breakfast, Tallahassee

That message was communicated  at the March 13th  Florida Christian Family Coalition (CFC)   Annual Legislative Prayer Breakfast by Professor Margaret McClain , a retired Arkansas State University professor, whose  daughter Heidi  was kidnapped at the age of 5 and removed to Saudi Arabia by her ex-Husband..  See our New English Review article, An American Child Kidnapped in Accordance with Shariah.  Professor McClain’s experience was also  amplified  in a recent  Iconoclast  interview  with  Yasmeen Alexandria Davis, a Florida young woman, who at  13 years of age  was  rescued from  a kidnapping by her Saudi father through the resourcefulness and persistence of her mother and grandmother. Her Saudi father relentless keep tabs on her through a  US lawyers and an ex-FBI agent retained by him. See An American’s Rescue from Abduction to Saudi Arabia.

Both incidents were violations of state, federal and international conventions on parental kidnapping, but sanctioned under Sharia Islamic law. Professor McClain and Yasmeen Alexandria Davis testified about abduction of American children to  Saudi Arabia  in a panel of such women, children, and a father at a US House 2002 Government Reform Committee chaired by former Indian Republican Rep. Dan Burton. Professor McClain  gave proof f to the CFC lobbyists based on her personal experience why passage of ALA in Florida was needed to protect American women and children against alien laws that imperil their  fundamental Constitutional  and basic human rights. The CFC has made passage of ALAC a priority in the 2014 legislature.

Sen_ Alan Hays Sponsor of ALAC

Sen. Alan Hays, Sponsor of Florida ALAC, SB 0386 at CFC Legislative Prayer Breakfast, 2014.

The 75  trained men and women, members of the CFC who heard Professor McClain and ALAC Senate Bill sponsor, Sen. Alan Hays,  Rep. Larry Ahern, sponsor of  a bill, Offenses against the Unborn Children (OAUC), fanned out to meet legislators. They  were  equipped with FAQs sheet on why ALAC  is needed and a  list of nearly  two dozen Florida lower court and appellate cases in which foreign laws were recognized . How effective were they? According to a report by the CFC:

They met with a total of thirty-nine (39) lawmakers and secured thirty-two (32) co-sponsors/supporters on our legislative priorities. Nineteen (19) co-sponsors and supporters on American Laws for American Courts and thirteen (13) co-sponsors and supporters on the Offenses Against the Unborn Bill.

Neither they nor CFC’s executive director, Anthony Vertigo is resting on their laurels.  They are planning another Legislative Prayer Breakfast and Citizen Lobby Day in Tallahassee the week prior to the close of the Florida legislative session on May 2nd, to assure that those ALAC commitments and others are honored.

Anthony Verdugo  CFC executive director

Anthony Verdugo, executive director, CFC Annual Legislative Prayer Breakfast.

CFC, according to its executive director Verdugo has been going to Tallahassee for 10 years to lobby on issues like ALAC and OAUC.   CFC has more than 1,500 pastors and churches and over 16,000 members in Florida.  Its scorecard in conducting Citizen Lobbying on social issues of concern has been effective..  Verdugo said in an email that CFC’s among successes were the bi-partisan Stand for Israel resolution, Prayer Time in Schools, etc. – Parental Notification, Ultrasound Bill, Boy Scout Resolution, and Parental Rights Resolution. A so-called Anti-Bullying and Domestic Partnership bills were dropped.  “All told, we have made the difference on about [a] dozen bills over the last ten years”.

While it is too early to tell, the fourth try at passing ALAC is yielding some initial success, The House version of ALAC HB903 passed the House Civil Justice  Subcommittee on March 18th on a partisan vote of 8 Republicans to 4 Democrats.  The House version of ALAC has been also referred  to the Judiciary Committee for a hearing.  That  is the last Committee hearing  before a  Floor vote is  to be scheduled.  A looming first hearing on the Senate version, SB 0386, is scheduled for Tuesday, March 25th before the Senate Judiciary Committee..  SB0386 has  also been referred to  Government Oversight and Rules before a possible floor Vote.

ALAC in Florida may have better prospects than in the three previous sessions. The evidence  from research of   recognition  of foreign laws in a significant number of lower court and appellate level decisions  in Florida may answer legislators’ questions of why it is needed. Protection of Florida’s women and children from foreign laws appears to  put a human face on why ALAC should be passed.  Nonetheless,  political horse trading will be  crucial in navigating the legislative process to a possible successful conclusion in the 2014 session in Tallahassee.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Check cashing anti-fraud bill passes Florida legislature

Representative W. Travis Cummings

Tallahassee, Fla. – The Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) today commended the Florida Legislature for the passage of House Bill 217, which if signed into law, will require check cashiers to log check cashing data into a statewide database designed to prevent fraudulent activity.

“It has been a pleasure working with the various stakeholders on this very important legislation that is long overdue,” said Representative Travis Cummings, sponsor of the bill.  “I am convinced that the use of technology via this real time database will significantly combat fraud that is currently costing our state roughly $1 billion annually.”

The new legislation will require check cashiers to log any checks cashed in excess of $1,000.  In addition to the check amount, each business will be required to submit traceable information such as payer  payee, fee charged, type of identification presented and payee’s workers’ compensation insurance policy number, if the check was made out to a business.  The bill also provides that multiple checks accepted from any one person in one day, which total $1,000 or more, must be aggregated and reported in the database.

“This legislation allows our state agencies to work together to prevent and fight fraud,” said OFR Commissioner Drew J. Breakspear. “The new database will allow the OFR to efficiently and effectively track and investigate potential fraudulent activity with real time information from our partners at the Department of Financial Services (DFS) and the Department of State (DOS).”

This legislation is one of the recommendations from a work-group convened by Chief Financial Officer, Jeff Atwater, to look at the complicated and organized premium avoidance scheme that is pervading the workers’ compensation insurance market.  In some cases, check cashing store owners are being used to accomplish this fraud.

“This work-group brought together all stakeholders to develop recommendations on how to clean up the industry,” said CFO Atwater. “I applaud the Florida Legislature for passing this bill and look forward to working with the OFR to prevent and prosecute fraudulent activity.”

The check cashing database created by this legislation will have the capability to interface with the Secretary of State’s database for purposes of verifying corporate registration and articles of incorporation.  The database will also have the capability to interface with the DFS database for purposes of determining proof of coverage for workers’ compensation.

“Florida’s financial service centers have worked hard to help ensure passage of House Bill 217 to provide regulators with a real-time database of check cashing transactions,” said Corey Mathews, Executive Director of the Financial Service Centers of Florida.  “This critical tool will help law enforcement to identify and prosecute criminals who are attempting to invade the financial services industry.”

“Workers’ Compensation fraud is a problem that negatively affects consumers and taxpayers every day,” said James Banks, Executive Secretary Treasurer of the Florida Carpenters Regional Council.  “Florida’s Carpenters applaud the steps the Legislature has taken to level the playing field in the construction industry by creating additional tools for our law enforcement community.”