TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — Among the various legislative priorities for the March session in Tallahassee, Gov. Ron DeSantis and both leaders of the Florida House and Florida Senate have pushed for reforms in state litigation.
The legislation, focused on what’s called tort reform, is aimed at reducing incentives for what its proponents call frivolous lawsuits.
However, among opponents for one such proposal, Senate Bill 236, is the father of 19-year-old Miya Marcano, who was murdered in 2021 at her apartment by a maintenance worker. Marlon, her father, spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, saying if SB 236 passes, it would essentially reverse Miya’s Law, passed last year.
“Miya Marcano is my daughter and on September 24th, 2021 she was murdered,” Marlon Marcano told Senate committee members Tuesday, as reported by WESH. “She was murdered in the apartment where she lived an also worked for these people. I oppose this bill.”
WESH reported that among those at the hearing, individuals included victims of sex trafficking, families of murder victims, and business owners.
One supporter of SB 236 who testified before lawmakers was Holly Wozniack, a risk manager for Gate Petroleum. Wozniack said Gate has seen insurance premiums in the state go up as much as 500%, citing litigation as a cause impacting businesses and reason to support the bill.
“Gate has lost countless hours and dollars fighting frivolous lawsuits because in our state’s current legal climate, businesses acting in good faith don’t stand a chance,” Wozniack said, according to WESH. “On behalf of Gate, I ask you to support this bill and balance the scales of justice.”
However, Marlon Marcano, and other victim advocates at the committee hearing, pushed back on the bill’s impact, saying that when someone in an apartment complex or other multi-resident area was harmed, it wasn’t only the fault of the perpetrator.
He continued, saying that all parties have to be held accountable, including the landlords, when it comes to security.
Voting on the bill ended with it moving forward on Tuesday, with eight members voting in favor of the bill, and four opposing it from the Senate Judiciary Committee. In another updated version of the bill reviewed by the Fiscal Policy committee, the bill passed 13-6 on Thursday
A separate version of the bill, HB 837, is also working its way through the Florida House. Neither version has made it to a full floor vote yet.