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Last June, Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill into law that explains how patients can receive medical marijuana under Florida’s related amendment from 2016. Amendment 2, Florida’s “medical marijuana law” passed with 71% of the vote and took effect January 3, 2017. The amendment required lawmakers to come up with a description of how patients can qualify and receive medical marijuana by July 3, 2017. As an employer or employee in Florida, here’s what the new marijuana laws mean for you.

Employers still have the right to a Drug-Free Workplace

While court challenges may arise, employers are generally safe since the law doesn’t require accommodation for medical marijuana users.The medical marijuana amendment to Florida’s law still preserves employers’ rights to enforce drug-free workplace policies. Despite patients being able to legally qualify and receive medical marijuana, if their employer enforces a drug-free environment, the patient won’t be able to work. The amendment does not limit an employer’s ability to “establish, continue, or enforce a drug-free policy.” It does not make it mandatory for employers to accommodate patients receiving medical marijuana or working under the influence of marijuana. The section also states that it does not “create a cause of action against an employer for discrimination or wrongful discharge.” Since the passing of the amendment in Florida, employers have worried about what it could mean for drug use in the workplace. Until courts rule otherwise, companies must not tolerate testing positive for marijuana under the drug-free workplace.

Medical marijuana and employee drug testing

According to the new medical marijuana law, patients must have a “qualifying condition” to receive medical marijuana. Conditions include cancer, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, seizures, and terminal illness. Since the passing of the new law, employers and employees have wondered what it might mean for drug use in the workplace. The answer? Not much, thanks to the section not granting employees the right to use marijuana at work if an employer has a policy against it. If an employee qualifies for legal marijuana use, he or she must still obey an employer’s rules for using drugs at work or having marijuana in the system. If an employer wishes to maintain or implement drug testing rules prior to hiring an employee, he or she has this right. An employee that does not pass the drug test, regardless of the legalization of the drug, cannot sue the employer for discrimination based on medical marijuana use. However, there is still the possibility of the courts ruling in favor of employees in lawsuits regarding medical marijuana.

The most significant change to the 6th Edition of the Florida Building Code is that it now requires the minimum elevation of newly constructed homes in Flood Zones A or V to be 1+ foot above the base elevation. The base elevation is the height shown on the Flood Maps as the required level to build homes, and is what flood insurance premiums are based upon. Previously, new homes were required to be built equal to the base elevation. Now, builders must add an additional foot to raise the lowest floor to at least 1’ above the base flood elevation.

This is important for all homeowners in Zones A and V to be aware of when reviewing their current Homeowner Policy. There is coverage on the Homeowner Policy entitled “Building Law or Ordinance,” which pays additional monies to bring your home up to code should you need to rebuild it in the event of major damage. Under this policy provision, homeowners can select 0%, 10%, 25%, or 50% of the dwelling coverage shown on the policy.

Should a home sustain damage equal or greater than 50% of the home’s market value, Collier County, in accordance with FEMA’s Substantial Improvement/Substantial Damage Rule, will mandate that the remaining structure be demolished and rebuilt to the current building code. As such, homeowners will likely see an increased cost to rebuild and raise the foundation a foot above base elevation per the new code. Homeowners may have chosen a low limit of “Building Law or Ordinance” coverage if their home was built recently since it met building codes. Now is the time to review the policy for proper coverage on the “Building Law or Ordinance” provision.

The IRS just announced that the 2018 HSA contribution limit for individuals with family coverage (which includes employee/spouse and employee/child[ren], as well as employee/family elections) under a high deductible health plan (HDHP) has been reduced from $6,900 to $6,850. The individual contribution limit remains unchanged at $3,450.

The IRS recalculated the limit because the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that passed at the end of 2017 applies the so-called chained consumer price index (chained CPI) to increases in HSA and a few other employee benefit contribution limits.

Action Steps:
As an employer who offers one or more Qualified High Deductible Health Plans (QHDHPs) with the corresponding HSA contribution allowance, you should notify your employees of this reduction in the family HSA contribution limit, and advise them that adjustments in contributions for the remainder of 2018 may be needed. Employees may need to change their HSA elections going forward to comply with the new limit. Also, any individuals with family QHDHP coverage who may have already contributed $6,900 for 2018 must receive a refund of the excess contribution in order to avoid an excise tax.

Click here to read the Internal Revenue Bulletin.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) just announced changes effective April 1, 2018 and January 9, 2019. The changes outlined below apply to new business and renewals that will become effective on or after April 1, 2018. The premium changes for Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) and Newly Mapped procedure policies will become effective January 1, 2019.
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NAPLES, FL (February 16, 2018) – Gulfshore Insurance Inc., a leading insurance agency in Florida, is pleased to announce that they have partnered with Waterside Shops in Naples, FL for their 2018 Coins for a Cause program. Gulfshore will be making a matching contribution to Avow, the 2018 Coins for a Cause recipient.

Coins collected from the Waterside Shops fountains from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018, will benefit Avow’s palliative care consultations for adults facing chronic or serious illnesses, hospice care patients, and bereavement support services for children and adults.

President and CEO of Gulfshore Insurance, Brad Havemeier said, “Avow is one of the charities that Gulfshore has supported for a long time now. We are very excited for the opportunity to contribute to an organization that does so much for our community.”

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