Florida House Bill 909: What Every Restoration Professional Needs to Know

The following article has been written by R & R Magazine.

First Florida. Then, it could be the rest of the country.

If you ask Harvey V. Cohen, attorney, Cohen Battisti, the proposed Florida House Bill 909 could destroy the restoration industry as we know it over time.

The bill was the focus of a special open-house style meeting Saturday, April 20 at the conclusion of The Experience Conference & Exhibition, which fittingly took place in Clearwater Beach, FL. Specifically, if passed, the bill would take away the homeowner’s ability to assign rights and benefits under their insurance contract. Essentially, it shifts risk from the insurance company to the mortgage holder and doesn’t guarantee that a contractor will be paid for any work after it’s completed.

“They’re taking away a valuable right from the homeowners and make it specific to this industry and not to anybody else,” Cohen says. “I think it’s outrageous. If this language stays in this bill and this bill gets passed, you’re going to have to make sure you go and collect money from people up front. Most people don’t have $5,000 sitting around waiting for an emergency at their house.

“If they do away with assignment (of benefits), there will be no right to recover. Who are you going to get the money from? If the insurance company pays the homeowner directly and they keep the money – too bad, you’re out of luck.”

The bill could make it hard for a lot of Florida restoration companies to stay in business, says Jeff Grant, President/Owner of Bone Dry Restoration (Tallahassee, FL), who has been active in mobilizing support to stop it.

But the fact is that time’s ticking. Legislative session ends on May 4. If the bill isn’t derailed by then, it’ll go to a vote in the House of Representatives. If it passes the House, it will go to the Senate.

Grant hopes that it will fail before it can go to the House vote or that, minimally, the language in it will be changed. But if it doesn’t, and it passes via House vote, the industry’s last chance to derail it will be before it goes in front of the Senate.

If the bill takes effect in Florida, a trickle-down effect could proceed to other states across the country.

“It not only affects you, it’s going to affect all of us down the road,” says Gary Glenn, SCRT President, ICRA VP and partner of ServiceMaster by A-Town Hi-Tech Cleaning and Restoration, which operates out of Abilene, TX. “We’re going to get actively involved in this.”

Grant’s hoping that fellow Florida restoration businesses join him in the effort to shoot down House Bill 909. He’s started the Florida Association of Restoration Specialists and is currently in the process of hiring a lobbyist to represent the industry both presently and on any future bills that might crop up – but a lobbyist is going to come with a $25,000 price tag, of which funds are needed immediately.

Grant’s asking anyone willing to help to contact him either by phone (850-878-6469) or by e-mail at bonedryrestoration@earthlink.net or flars@earthlink.net. Checks can also be made out to “Foyt Ralston & Associates, LLC” and mailed to Grant at Bone Dry Restoration and Cleaning, Inc., 1285 Smoke Rise Lane, Tallahassee, FL, 32317.

Cohen recommended that restoration contractors across the country get involved with associations in case a bill like this crops up elsewhere.

Fighting FL House Bill 909: How to Get Involved

  • Contact Jeff Grant at 850-878-6469 or by e-mail at  bonedryrestoration@earthlink.net. Checks can also be made out to “Foyt Ralston & Associates, LLC” and mailed to Grant at Bone Dry Restoration and Cleaning, Inc., 1285 Smoke Rise Lane, Tallahassee, FL, 32317 to support a lobbyist.
  • Contact your local Florida representatives and senators.
  • Join industry associations that can mobilize support to fight the bill. Remember, even if House Bill 909 fails, a similar bill could emerge in the future.

HB 909 Update – Act Now!

There has been a major update on House Bill HB 909 (2013).  This can affect your restoration company.  If you have not already, it is time to mobilize against House Bill 909 (2013)!

House Bill 909 was approved by the committee on a 14-4 vote (4 against the bill).  We offered alternatives to the bill but they were rejected.

Please call your state representative now!  Send e-mails, letters, tell your neighbors, use Facebook, Twitter, use all types of social media to let others know they should act now against HB 909.

To contact your local representative please click here.

For more information about this bill please call (407) 478-4878.

“It’s About Justice”

Orlando Child Support Attorney On Child Support Agreements


Can We Agree On Child Support?

Anytime a family law attorney has a case that involves minor children you can be assured that 100% of the time the issue of child support will arise at some point. Sometimes child support is bitterly litigated and at other times the parties have no objections to the guideline payment that is calculated. Most cases involving children will go to mediation and a little more than half of those usually settle without going to trial. Leading up to mediation in custody and support cases one of the big questions on the minds of many litigants is “can we agree on our own child support payment or do we have to follow these guidelines”.

In Florida, the law says that child support is the right of the child and is not able to be bargained away by the parents in the settlement process. This means that the parties are not permitted to agree to waive child support or to agree on an amount lower than minimum guidelines. The parties, however, can agree on an amount higher than what they expect guidelines to be.

That being said, there have been cases where the judge has exercised his or her latitude to exclude a child support obligation in certain cases where other types of support are being provided to the child that meet with the Court’s satisfaction and are in the child’s best interests. Your Orlando child custody attorney can let you know if your case is one where this type of arrangement is possible considering the facts of your case.

Sometimes when knowledgeable attorneys are not involved in this process an unrepresented party may agree to a child support amount that is lower or higher than the unrepresented party should have gotten and the agreement will go, unintentionally, under the judge’s radar and get signed into a final judgment. If you have a pending child support case and you do not have an attorney then you should speak to a attorney as soon as possible.

Sean Smallwood is a family & divorce attorney, motivational speaker, and guest blogger in Orlando Florida. He works for the firm of Cohen Battisti as the family law and divorce attorney.