Florida Chamber Unveils 2018 Legislative Report Card

By: Edie Ousley

Highlights 15 Distinguished Advocates of the 2018 Legislative Session

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (April 5, 2018) – Following the 2018 Legislative Session, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today is releasing grades earned by all members of the House and Senate on the Florida Chamber’s 2018 Legislative Report Card.

Lawmakers earned higher grades this session with their renewed focus on certain competitiveness issues like cutting red tape, chipping away at Florida-only taxes, funding for economic development, tourism marketing and infrastructure investments, and targeted education reforms. But, the Florida Legislature also took significantly less total scored votes, leaving crucial competitiveness issues such as Florida’s bottom-five legal climate and ongoing workers’ comp crisis unaddressed in both chambers.

The Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card 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 2,900 votes cast during the 2018 legislative session, data shows:

  • 47 percent of state lawmakers earned an “A” (90-100) on pro-jobs issues outlined in the Florida Chamber’s 2018 Business Agenda, compared to 9 percent last year.
  • Average GPA for both legislative chambers was 78 percent, compared to 73 percent in 2017.
  • Senate GPA was 74 percent – up from 70 percent in 2017.
  • House GPA was 79 percent – up from 74 percent in 2017.
  • 64 Representatives earned an “A” – up from 13 in 2017.
  • 8 Senators earned an “A” – up from 1 in 2017.

 

“The Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card lets Florida’s families, small businesses, taxpayers and voters know if legislators voted in favor of private sector job creation and a stronger economy,” said DAVID HART, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber. “While there is always room for improvement and more work to be done, this legislative session’s grades showed many legislators took steps in the right direction on several policy fronts and voted to prevent harmful ideas from becoming law. We look forward to a session when every legislator earns an “A” and Florida’s competitiveness outranks every other state.”

 

Unfinished Business:

Despite several wins for Florida’s businesses, lawmakers failed to:

  • Stabilize Florida’s workers’ comp system and rein in the $1.5 billion cost increase to job creators,
  • Improve on Florida’s unfortunate, but well-known lawsuit abuse crisis,
  • Stop Assignment of Benefits fraud that’s driving up property and auto insurance rates on Floridians and small businesses and,
  • Increase investments in Florida’s workforce colleges to ensure good jobs for all.

 

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 2018 session and was attended by 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 numerous 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, about 2,900 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 15 members of the Florida Legislature honored with a 2018 Florida Chamber Distinguished Advocate award include:

  • Representative Ben Diamond
    Championed an amendment that would limit potential lawsuits against job creators.
  • Representative Manny Diaz
    Led the Florida House’s education reform efforts and fought to pass Florida Chamber-backed computer science legislation.
  • Representative Joe Gruters
    A reliable and vocal partner in the fight for free enterprise, came to the defense of the Florida Chamber on the House Floor against unnecessary and inappropriate personal attacks.
  • Representative Clay Ingram
    Worked to secure full funding for key economic development programs, including Enterprise Florida and VISIT FLORIDA.
  • Representative Mike La Rosa
    Fought against the expansion of gambling in Florida and championed private property rights for vacation rentals.
  • Representative Jose Oliva
    Led the Florida House in passing responsible and necessary school safety measures in response to the Parkland tragedy.
  • Representative Scott Plakon
    Sponsored legislation and fought against labor unions to promote transparency in the collective bargaining process; carried this effort for several years in a row dating back to 2011.
  • Representative Holly Raschein
    Sponsored legislation that would allow state assumption of federal environmental permitting, a streamlining effort the business community has sought for decades.
  • Representative Paul Renner
    Championed this year’s tax package, including a reduction in the Florida-only business rent tax, a longstanding Florida Chamber priority.
  • Representative Jay Trumbull
    Sponsored Florida Chamber-backed assignment of benefits legislation, which would help contain the rising cost of property insurance due to fraud.
  • Senator Dennis Baxley
    Championed an amendment in the Florida Senate that would promote transparency in the collective bargaining process.
  • Senator Bill Galvano
    Sponsored legislation and led the Florida Senate in passing responsible and necessary school safety measures in response to the Parkland tragedy.
  • Senator David Simmons
    Sponsored legislation that would allow state assumption of federal environmental permitting, a streamlining effort the business community has sought for decades.
  • Senator Wilton Simpson
    Worked to secure full funding for key economic development programs, including Enterprise Florida and VISIT FLORIDA.
  • Senator Kelli Stargel
    Championed this year’s tax package, including a reduction in the Florida-only business rent tax, a longstanding Florida Chamber priority.

 

Moving Forward:

Moving forward, the Florida Chamber’s Political Operations team, under the direction of Senior Vice President of Political Operations Marian Johnson, is actively engaging in electing pro-jobs, pro-business candidates in the 2018 election cycle. Soon, the Florida Chamber’s Political Institute will begin its statewide candidate interview tour – interviewing state House and Senate candidates.