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Today in Tallahassee: fraud, gambling and smokes

TALLAHASSEE — The battle over auto insurance fraud continues to brew today as a Senate committee takes up measures to tighten requirements for doctors and lawyers that handle the cases.

A bill by Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, would limit attorneys' fees and create an arbitration process for disputes arising from coverage of auto accidents.

Also in the Senate, a proposal to make it easier for out-of-state companies to collect state sales tax on product sales over the Internet gets a hearing in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee. The same committee also hears a bill by Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami, to open the door to competition for casino resorts in Florida.

Senators will also take up an education proposal to allow ads on school buses and a measure to eliminate salaries for school board members.

In the morning, Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet meet to discuss a series of environmental permits and hear a report on the status of the state's bonding capacity.

In the afternoon, a rally organized by the nation's largest tobacco companies, Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Retail Federation, will march on the Capitol urging legislators to pass a bill targeting Miami's Dosal Tobacco company. The bill by Rep. John Tobia, R-Melbourne, and Sen. Thad Altman, R-Viera, would impose a surcharge on cigarettes sold by the company in an attempt to remove the advantage the company now claims over major cigarette manufacturers.

Under the 1997 Florida Tobacco Settlement Agreement, the nation's largest tobacco companies are required to make annual payments to the state of more than $375 million to defray the health care cost of treating sick smokers. But because Dosal was not a large operator at the time, it escaped having to make the payments. Legislation proposed by two Republicans would close what they consider a loophole.

Times/Herald staff writer Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report.

Today in Tallahassee: fraud, gambling and smokes 04/05/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 11:04am]
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