Today, Governor Rick Scott signed into law HB 1223, which extends a heightened protection from predatory practices to military service members and their families. The bill signing was held at MacDill Air Force Base. Governor Scott was joined by Holly Petraeus, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Senator Wilton Simpson and Representative James Grant.
Governor Scott said, "Because of Florida's strong veteran presence, there's more opportunity for individuals to target these populations with predatory schemes that hurt our veterans' quality of life. Make no mistake: there are predators out there who will go after our veterans.
"We must do everything in our power to protect those who served our nation from these predatory practices. I'm proud to be joined by veterans from the Tampa Bay area to sign into law HB 1223, which extends a heightened protection from predatory practices to military service members and their families.
"This bill will create a significant civil penalty -- that will be added on top of restitution -- for attempting to steal from our veterans or their families. This new layer of protection will send a strong message to the rest of the nation that in Florida, we'll do whatever it takes to protect our veterans and their families."
Attorney General Pam Bondi said, "Our military members sacrifice so much for our country, and we need to do everything we can to protect them and their families from unscrupulous individuals who target them with scams. I thank Senator Simpson and Representative Grant for working with me to enhance the penalties against those who target military members with unfair and deceptive practices, and I thank Governor Scott for signing this key legislation."
"Just as the CFPB protects servicemembers at the Federal level, as evidenced by our enforcement action on June 27th against deceptive practices in the MILES military auto loan program, the state governments can do a great deal to protect them where they live and work. I'm pleased to be here at MacDill Air Force Base today with Governor Scott and Attorney General Bondi for the signing of this bill that provides enhanced penalties against those who would cheat Florida's servicemembers, veterans and their families," said Holly Petraeus, Assistant Director for Servicemember Affairs, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Senator Wilton Simpson said, "The Governor's done a great job in supporting our country's heroes, and this legislation will further protect these heroes from fraud."
Representative James Grant said, "With the sacrifices made by the heroes who protect our nation in mind, I am proud to say that we have taken steps towards returning the favor by further protecting them from theft here at home. This bill could not have become law without Governor Scott's strong support, Attorney General Pam Bondi's leadership, and the tireless efforts of Sen. Wilton Simpson and Rep. Ross Spano."
Florida is home to a considerably large number of veterans:
Florida has the third largest population of veterans in the nation.
Florida has the largest population of World War II veterans in the nation with more than 164,000.
There are 1,543,496 veterans currently living in Florida, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.