Modernizing Florida’s Pension Systems

 

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Why It Matters to Florida

The burdensome cost of having unfunded liabilities in our state continues to provide a barrier toward supporting teachers, attracting targeted industries, building roads and reducing taxes. Florida must adapt and change or suffer the consequences to our state’s rebounding economy.

Florida’s Competitiveness Agenda

  • Municipal Pension Systems
    In fact, there are 490 local pension systems, more than 84 percent are NOT fully funded. Florida’s total unfunded liability is equal to more than $11.2 billion.
  • State Pension Systems
    Last year, instead of funding teachers and Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity, taxpayers paid over $1 billion to pay down the pension systems unfunded liability

The Fight for Free Enterprise Continues

The Florida Chamber will continue to champion common sense reforms that modernize public pension programs and stop $6 billion taxpayer bailouts of pensions, helping our state become more fiscally responsible.

Act Now

If you believe in creating fiscally stable state and local governments as we do, contact Christopher Emmanuel today.

E-Verify Legislation Filed in Senate and House

As 2018 winds down, the 2019 Legislative Session is beginning to take shape as bills are continuing to be filed even as we approach the holidays. One notable piece of legislation that was filed yesterday afternoon is SB 164, sponsored by Senator Aaron Bean (R-Jacksonville). This bill would mandate businesses to utilize the federal E-Verify program for all new hires beginning as early as 2020.  You can read the legislative text of SB 164 here.  This bill is similar to HB 89 filed in the House by Representative Thad Altman (R-Indialantic).

The Florida Chamber has already reached out to Senator Bean, and as this news article reports, the Florida Chamber will remain engaged in ensuring Florida’s businesses remain competitive, while maintaining a lawful, safe, and productive workforce where Florida job creators are not unduly burdened.

Tell Us Your Thoughts

Please contact Chris Emmanuel at cemmanuel@flchamber.com or (850) 521-1242 with any feedback on how this legislation would impact your business if signed into law.

Florida Chamber’s Autonomous Florida Leading the Way – Autonomous Technology Demo Day

 

Autonomous Florida

 

The Florida Chamber’s Autonomous Florida in partnership with the Society of American Engineers, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority, Senator Jeff Brandes and numerous Tampa area partners, recently staged an autonomous technology demonstration day in the heart of Tampa.

Throughout the week, hundreds of members of the public were able to experience a ride in a self-driving car for the very first time. The Florida Chamber’s Autonomous Florida is thrilled to partner with business leaders to bring these types of forward-thinking events to Florida.

The Florida Chamber’s Autonomous Florida program has been featured in a series of opinion pieces throughout the state:

Get Involved

For more information on Autonomous Florida, click here or contact Christopher Emmanuel at (850) 521-1242 or cemmanuel@flchamber.com.

Lawmakers Vote to Reduce Regulations While Protecting Environment

Florida Chamber of Commerce-backed legislation that reduces confusion and time delays in the wetland permitting process, while also maintaining the exact same existing environmental protections, passed the Florida Legislature today.

The bill (HB 7043) allows the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to step into the shoes of the Army Corps of Engineers to issue Federal 404 wetlands permits under the existing federal regulations using the best science possible. This new process will reduce uncertainty and maintain Florida’s high environmental standards.

The Florida Chamber thanks bill sponsors Representative Holly Raschein and Senator David Simmons for working to make Florida more competitive. HB 7043 now travels to Governor Rick Scott for his action.

Legislative Session Coming to a Close
The 2018 Legislative Session is scheduled to end this Friday. The Florida Chamber of Commerce is your number one resource for what passed, what didn’t, and what needs more work. Be on the lookout for the Florida Chamber’s end of session news brief.

Streamlined Permitting Bill Passes Senate Committee

A bill that will drastically reduce confusion and time delays in the wetland permitting process, while also maintaining the exact same existing environmental protections, passed the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee with the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s support.

For Floridians, this means a reduction in uncertainty and the significant wait times for permit decisions, while maintaining necessary environmental resource protections.

SB 1402, proposed by Senator David Simmons, allows the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to step into the shoes of the Army Corps of Engineers to issue Federal 404 wetlands permits under the existing federal regulations using the best science available.

Florida wins when we stand by long-term science-based solutions to Florida’s environmental issues. This legislation follows similar successful state efforts to assume federal permitting responsibilities for wastewater discharges and air emissions.

Environmental Permitting Summer School

To learn more about the governance, permitting and regulations pertaining to water, enroll today in Environmental Permitting Summer School on July 17-20 in Marco Island.

 Streamlined Permitting Bill Passes House Committee

A bill that will drastically reduce confusion and time delays in the wetland permitting process, while also maintaining the exact same existing environmental protections, passed the House Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee with the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s support.

For Floridians, this means a reduction in uncertainty and the significant wait times for permit decisions, while maintaining necessary environmental resource protections.

Proposed Committee Bill 2 allows the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to step into the shoes of the Army Corps of Engineers to issue Federal 404 wetlands permits under the existing federal regulations using the best science available.

Florida wins when we stand by long-term science-based solutions to Florida’s environmental issues. This legislation follows similar successful state efforts to assume federal permitting responsibilities for wastewater discharges and air emissions.

Environmental Permitting Summer School

To learn more about the governance, permitting and regulations pertaining to water, enroll today in Environmental Permitting Summer School on July 17-20 in Marco Island.

Bipartisan Affordable Housing Bill Passes Senate Community Affairs  

Today, the Florida Chamber of Commerce commended the Florida Senate Committee on Community Affairs for voting favorably on bipartisan affordable housing legislation that would prohibit the sweep of the State and Local Housing Trust Fund. The legislation, Senate Bill 874, sponsored by Senator Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples), is slated to be heard next in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development.

“Attainable housing is a key ingredient to meet the needs of Florida’s growing workforce. Ensuring workers have access to affordable housing will help our economy to continue growing, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce thanks members of the Senate Community Affairs Committee for protecting this important program,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida 2030 research project— a once-a-decade benchmarking report looking at the fundamentals of the state and planning for future changes and disruptions— provides a more in-depth analysis on the need for affordable and attainable housing in order to secure Florida’s future. As part of the Florida 2030 research project, the Florida Chamber Foundation visited 67 counties and engaged more than 10,000 Floridians in town hall conversations. One issue universally identified as crisis across the state was the availability of attainable housing, particularly for critical workers.

Additionally, during the Florida Chamber Foundation’s annual Economic Outlook Summit last week, Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist, Dr. Jerry Parrish, identified affordable housing as one of Florida’s constraining variables to economic growth.

A statement on the need for attainable housing, prepared for today’s committee meeting by Tony Carvajal can be found here.

Sign Up to Continue This Conversation

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Less Poverty Through More Prosperity Summit identified ten specific areas Florida must get right if we are to secure economic prosperity for all Floridians. From housing to childcare, click here to sign up for your specific area of interest.

California Housing Crisis Shows Why Proposal 23 Is Bad For Florida

Don’t Let This Happen in Florida

Recently, a FOX News report detailed the self-inflicted crisis facing California’s housing market. This report shows how California’s much needed housing developments are greatly delayed by lengthy environmental litigation, which is what Proposal 23 before the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) will allow.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce opposes CRC Proposal 23 because it creates a series of new and ambiguous rights, and creates a new cause of action for any person to sue any party, public or private, for violating these new undefined rights. The Florida Chamber urges that you call the CRC Judicial Committee today at (850) 717-9550 and tell them to vote against Proposal 23.

More from the FOX News report:

….

“NIMBYism has now become a tool for special interests to stop projects,” Rita Brandin said in the FOX News report. “There’s an anti-growth attitude that really creates this roadblock to providing homes and that is creating a disparity. We are leaving out our working class who have to commute hours, sometimes two hours beyond our borders, to work in our city.”

….

Read the full story to see how ligation has hijacked California’s economy.

Take Action Now

Contact the CRC Judicial Committee today at (850) 717-9550 and urge them to vote against the extreme Proposal 23.

This Century’s First Transitional Term

The last century was full of transitional terms like cordless phone or horseless carriages. These clunky words are a language’s way of coming to terms with something that is a generational leap from, yet oddly similar to, what it replaces. Instead of waiting on a federal solution, Florida is creating welcoming policies for what will surely be this century’s first transitional term: the driverless car.

The most eye opening trait of driverless cars is not their precision or efficiency – it’s their variety. Just as trucks, sport cars, and SUVs all have different uses, so too will there be dozens of different autonomous vehicles with many different purposes. We will be adding an entirely new ecosystem of transportation on top of our existing infrastructure. Roads, parking, and transportation habits will all radically change. This requires planning.

Fortunately the federalist system allows for states to be policy laboratories and Florida has already some of the most pro-autonomous vehicle legislation on the books. Recently, Representative Jason Fischer and Senator Jeff Brandes introduced legislation which will safely and smartly guide the next step of Florida’s autonomous revolution and make Florida more competitive for this emerging industry. House Bill 353, which is supported by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, is far from alone. Michigan passed their first legislative package last year, allowing driverless cars to lawfully operate on their streets. Arizona, Nevada, and Tennessee all have passed similar legislation. Each piece of legislation is different, and all will need periodic updating. Laws that were once state-of-the-art will have to be replaced only a few years later for being obsolete.

Not everyone will welcome the transition. For some, the freedom that a car represents will keep the tradition of human drivers alive and on our highways, surely causing many headaches and difficulties. Many might feel uneasy about giving up control of their car. Special interest groups have already started opposition lobbying efforts, including personal injury trial attorneys in Florida and California. But hopefully it will only be a matter of time before these operating systems reduce the seemingly endless supply of car accidents and the easy lawsuits that accompany them.

For the interests of our society at large, this transition cannot come soon enough. According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 37,461 people died in the on our roads in 2016 and over two million injured. Over 94 percent of these crashes are attributed to human error, such as drunk driving, speeding, or distracted driving. As long as we responsibly allow this new technology to grow and expand, there is another term we may soon render obsolete: driver error.

Florida Chamber Presents Opposition to CRC Proposal, Argues it is a Solution in Search of a Problem

 

Letter of Opposition      Staff Analysis      FJRI White Paper

 

On November 28, 2017, during a presentation before members of the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) Judicial Committee, the Florida Chamber of Commerce said Proposal 23 is a solution in search of a problem. As outlined in a Florida Chamber Staff Analysis, Proposal 23 calls for creating a series of new and ambiguous rights, and creating a new cause of action for any person to sue – public or private – for violating these undefined rights. The excessive burdens it would create on businesses, as well as the additional legal liability it would place on job creators, are among the many flaws this proposal carries.

“While we disagree with the approach of the proposal, we appreciate the awareness being brought to the issue. The Florida Chamber believes that science must drive environmental public policy decisions, and that it is imperative we protect our natural environment for future generations. However, in addition to being an unnecessary addition to our state’s constitution, we remain concerned that this proposal’s ambiguity will hamper Florida’s future economic growth while unleashing a bevy of needless lawsuits.”

 

– Frank Walker

Vice President of Governmental Affairs, Florida Chamber of Commerce

 

 

 

According to the Florida Chamber, Proposal 23:

  • Can be addressed through Florida’s existing regulatory structure,
  • Will create ambiguity, spawning more lawsuits, clogging our courts and further tarnishing Florida’s already bottom five legal climate, and
  • Similar proposals have made other states less competitive.

The panel of Florida Chamber legislative advocates and partners presenting the opposition viewpoint on behalf of the Florida Chamber included:

  • Frank Walker, Vice President of Governmental Affairs, Florida Chamber
  • Ryan Matthews, Former Interim Secretary, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Chamber legislative advocate and Attorney, Peebles, Smith & Matthews
  • David Childs, Florida Chamber legislative advocate and Attorney, Hopping Green & Sams
  • William Large, President, Florida Justice Reform Institute

The following resources regarding the Florida Chamber’s opposition are available:

BE THE FIRST TO KNOW:
Get the latest news and information on proposals being heard by Florida’s once-every-20-years Constitution Revision Commission. Email Chris Emmanuel at cemmanuel@flchamber.com to add your name.

More Regulations Bad for Rail Industry

 

Download Letter to Transportation Committee      Register for Transportation Summit     Transportation Investments

 

Florida Should Welcome All Modes of Transportation

In testimony before the Florida Senate Transportation Committee, the Florida Chamber of Commerce expressed its opposition to SB 572, which would add unneeded state regulations to the already heavily federally regulated rail industry.

The Florida Chamber believes this bill will disturb existing agreements between local governments and private companies, and discourage private investment that seeks to solve public transportation issues.

During testimony to the committee, which is chaired by Senator George B. Gainer (R-Panama City), we shared that Florida will see an additional 5.4 million residents and 117 million annual visitors by 2030. Florida should welcome all modes of transportation, especially those the private sector is willing to invest in.

Click here to see Chris Emmanuel’s testimony in front of the Florida Senate Transportation Committee.

 

Share Your Feedback

We welcome your feedback on this issue. Join the discussion at the 2017 Florida Chamber Foundation Transportation Solutions Summit on December 12. For additional information, email Chris Emmanuel at cemmanuel@flchamber.com or call at (850) 521-1242.

Got An Idea for Florida’s Constitution?

Submit Your Ideas for Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission No Later Than Friday

Friday is the deadline to submit citizen proposals to Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission.

Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) Chairman Carlos Beruff and CRC Commissioner Belinda Keiser, while speaking at the Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum last week in Orlando, encouraged Floridians to have their voices and concerns heard and to submit ideas and changes to Florida’s constitution. The deadline for submitting citizen proposals has been extended to this Friday, October 6.

This week in Tallahassee, members of the CRC began reviewing proposals from citizens, including measures relating to write-in candidates, infrastructure funding and restoration of voting rights for felons.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce continues to closely follow the CRC and encourage thoughts and ideas from the public for changes to Florida’s constitution.

Share Your Ideas on How to Move Florida Forward

The CRC is a unique opportunity for Floridians to make changes to the state constitution and make Florida an even better place to live. If you have a proposal you think would make Florida better, please contact me at (850) 521-1242 or cemmanuel@flchamber.com.

Hear from the CRC at the Future of Florida Forum

I hope that this finds you and your loved ones well after Hurricane Irma. Following a similar move by the Florida Legislature, the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) Chair Carlos Beruff canceled the first committee week of the CRC due to the impacts from Hurricane Irma.

With Irma now in the rearview mirror, the CRC will now convene next week, Sept. 25-29. Chair Beruff has indicated that the CRC would revisit the proposed public filing deadline for constitutional amendments and will continue to allow the public to submit proposals.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce stands ready to help you and your business recover from the Hurricane Irma. As our state returns to normal, we will continue to solicit thoughts and ideas for suggested changes to Florida’s constitution.

For more information on the CRC, its impact on Florida’s future and how to voice your ideas click here.

Hear from the CRC at the Future of Florida Forum

Members of the CRC, including Chair Beruff, will participate in a panel discussion as part of the Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to hear from those leading the once every 20 year process of reviewing Florida’s constitution. Register today!

Shape and Priorities of the CRC Come Into Focus

Right now, Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is making decisions that could impact the lives of every Florida business and resident for years to come.

That’s because the CRC, which convenes once every 20 years, is reviewing proposed changes to Florida’s Constitution – many of which may go before voters on the 2018 general election ballot.

Already, the shape and priorities of the CRC are beginning to come into focus. Last week, the CRC Rules and Administration Committee met in Tallahassee and announced its Committee Meeting Schedule and a September 22 public proposal filing deadline.

Earlier this week, Governor Rick Scott announced he is pushing for a constitutional amendment that would require a supermajority vote of the legislature to raise any taxes or fees. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who supports the proposal, was at the Governor’s side for the announcement.  A constitutional amendment proposal through the CRC may be an avenue Governor Scott seeks for this effort.

Want to Make a Difference?

The Florida Chamber of Commerce encourages pro-jobs, pro-business proposals for the CRC’s consideration. Contact me at CEmmanuel@flchamber.com to learn how you can help secure Florida’s future.

Governor Scott Signs Florida Chamber-Backed Ridesharing Bill Into Law

Florida Governor Rick Scott today removed a major road block to ridesharing technologies by signing into law a Florida Chamber of Commerce-backed bill that embraces innovation, strengthens job growth and provides ridesharing opportunities for Floridians and the 112+ million annual visitors to Florida.

Sponsored by Senator Jeff Brandes (R- St. Petersburg) and Representative Chris Sprowls (R-Clearwater), HB 221 creates consistent and responsible statewide regulations for transportation network companies. By setting reasonable insurance standards, the newly signed law not only helps ensure safety for riders and the public in general, it encourages innovation in the growing ridesharing sector – and the jobs and economic activity they bring with them – to move to Florida.

Why It Matters

Florida Chamber Foundation research shows that by 2030, Florida’s population will grow to approximately 26 million, an addition of six million new residents. Long-term forecasts predict Florida will have more than 160 million annual visitors by 2025. Consistent regulations like those provided by the passage of this bill are an important step toward ensuring Florida’s transportation infrastructure can accommodate population growth and help the state remain economically competitive well into the future.

 

“The Florida Chamber thanks the Florida Legislature and Governor Rick Scott for sending a strong signal to innovative companies that they are welcome in Florida,” said DAVID HART, Executive Vice President for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Innovation leads to economic development and competition, and statewide access to ridesharing increases transportation options in our communities and transforms the way they move and do business.”