Florida Chamber Unveils 2017 Legislative Report Card

By: Edie Ousley

Releases How They Voted and Highlights 16 Distinguished Advocates

Tallahassee, Fla. (July 14, 2017) – Following the 2017 Legislative Session and June’s Special Session 2017-A, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today is releasing grades earned by all members of the House and Senate on the Florida Chamber’s 2017 Legislative Report Card. Disappointingly, lawmakers earned among the lowest grades in recent history for their votes on legislation that would make Florida more competitive.

The Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card, as outlined in How They Voted, is an annual opportunity to recognize members of the Florida Legislature who placed making Florida more competitive through private-sector job creation above special interests and their attempts to protect the status quo.

KEY DATA POINTS:

After tabulating more than 4,700 votes cast during the 2017 regular session, data shows:

  • 9 percent of state lawmakers earned an “A” (90-100) on pro-jobs issues outlined in the Florida Chamber’s 2017 Business Agenda, compared to 68 percent last year.
  • Average GPA for both legislative chambers was 73 percent, compared to 90 percent in 2016.
  • Senate GPA was 70 percent – down from 91 percent in 2016.
  • House GPA was 74 percent – down from 90 percent in 2016.
  • 13 Representatives earned an “A” – down from 80 in 2016.
  • One Senator earned an “A” – down from 30 in 2016.

“The Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card lets Florida’s families, small businesses, taxpayers and voters know if legislators voted in favor of job creation and a stronger economy,” said DAVID HART, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber. “While there were pockets of excellence, on the whole, grades were down significantly. We look forward to a session when every legislator earns an “A” and Florida’s competitiveness outranks every other state.”

The drop in grades earned by lawmakers is primarily due to legislative inaction to:

  • Stabilize Florida’s workers’ comp system and rein in the $1.5 billion cost increase to job creators,
  • Improve on Florida’s well-known lawsuit abuse crisis,
  • Enhance Florida’s competitiveness through targeted economic development and tourism funding during the regular legislative session, and
  • Stop Assignment of Benefits fraud that’s driving up property insurance rates on homeowners’ and small businesses.

TRANSPARENT GRADING PROCESS:

The Florida Chamber’s legislative grading process is both transparent and accountable.

  • The Florida Business Agenda (FBA) was announced prior to the 2017 session, and was attended by 17 bi-partisan and bicameral members of the legislature, and dozens of leaders from throughout Florida’s business community.
  • The Florida Business Agenda, outlined in Where We Stand, was hand delivered and mailed to each member of the Florida Legislature.
  • Florida Chamber leadership met with various newspaper editorial boards in advance of session.
  • Most importantly, prior to each vote graded on the report card, a “Your Vote Matters” letter outlining the pro-business position and the Florida Chamber’s intent to score the vote was transmitted to voting members of the legislature – in total, 193 scored votes letters were transmitted in advance.

 

Distinguished Advocate Award Winners:

The Florida Chamber’s Distinguished Advocate award recognizes lawmakers who fought tirelessly for the passage of pro-business legislation – no matter how difficult – and furthered the Florida Chamber’s goals of securing Florida’s future through job creation and economic development.

“We’re pleased to recognize members of the Florida Legislature with Distinguished Advocate awards who had the courage to put free enterprise principles for job creation above special interest,” said MARK WILSON, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The 16 members of the Florida Legislature honored with a 2017 Florida Chamber Distinguished Advocate award include:

Senators

  • Senator Jeff Brandes
  • Senator Jack Latvala
  • Senator Bill Montford
  • Senator Keith Perry
  • Senator Kelli Stargel

 

Representatives

  • Representative Ben Albritton
  • Representative Michael Bileca
  • Representative Jim Boyd
  • Representative Danny Burgess
  • Representative Manny Diaz
  • Representative Jay Fant
  • Representative James Grant
  • Representative Mike La Rosa
  • Representative Tom Leek
  • Representative Scott Plakon
  • Representative Chris Sprowls

Special Session Addendum:

The above grades reflect the 2017 regular session. For a recap of Special Session, click here.

Moving Forward:

The Florida Chamber is already developing its 2018 Business Agenda, and the Florida Chamber’s Political Operations team, under the direction of Senior Vice President of Political Operations Marian Johnson, is actively enlisting pro-jobs, pro-business candidates to run in the 2018 election cycle.

 

###

Established in 1916 as Florida’s first statewide business advocacy organization, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as crucial to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FLChamber.com for more information.
136 South Bronough Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301