Florida Legislature Takes Steps to Keep Florida’s Momentum Going

Lowers Cost of Living, Reduces Cost of Doing Business, Prepares for Future Growth, Protects Florida’s Constitution and Prepares for Virus’ Impact

TALLAHASSEE, FL (March 19, 2020) – Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature took steps during the 2020 Legislative Session to keep Florida’s momentum going. Lawmakers passed 12 Florida Chamber-backed bills that lower the cost of living, reduce the cost of doing business, prepare for future growth, protect Florida’s Constitution, and recognizes the unprecedented times Florida faces with COVID-19.

“In these unprecedented times, the Florida Legislature took many responsive and responsible actions during the 2020 Legislative Session to strengthen our state. More remains to be done for sure, but for now we must all pull together as Floridians and Americans. We will get thru this and be stronger than ever,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The Florida Chamber’s 2020 Jobs Agenda was supported by hundreds of local chamber members traveling to Tallahassee to meet with their lawmakers, and 144 separate Florida Chamber testimonials before House and Senate committees – all backed by a lobbying and public affairs team of 30 strong.

The Florida Chamber was also instrumental in defeating 23 bills bad for business, including bills that would insert government between employers and employees with all sorts of new employer mandates and create new lines of lawsuits – making Florida’s poor legal climate even worse.

The 60-day legislative session was extended by one-week, in part due to the economic uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus which caused a delay in finalizing the $93.2 billion state budget. Lawmakers filed more than 3,500 bills, and passed 210.

Chief among Florida Chamber-backed legislation that passed this session are bills that:

  • Strengthened Florida’s school choice options to serve even more students,
  • Increased access to healthcare by expanding scope of practice for advanced registered nurse practitioners,
  • Invested in Florida’s economic development and tourism marketing programs,
  • Protected the environment with long-term water quality investments,
  • Ensured Florida remains the Sunshine State, not the ‘melanoma state,’ by preempting scientifically dubious local bans on proven sunscreens,
  • Protected Florida’s Constitution from special interests buying their way onto Florida’s ballot,
  • Invested in Florida’s rural communities with cost-effective economic development efforts, and
  • Fully funded Florida’s affordable housing program.

Meanwhile, not all lawmakers were trying to make Florida more competitive. Some in the legislature tried to create a patchwork of regulations increasing costs on businesses, families and consumers. Additionally, there were a host of attempted mandates on job creators, including misguided wage and employment condition mandates.

And throughout session, the Florida Chamber took on attacks from those that want to make Florida less competitive, including government unions, billboard trial lawyers and fringe environmental groups seeking to give the same legal rights you enjoy as a citizen to their local river or lake.

Moving forward, the Florida Chamber once again soon release its Legislative Report Card – a comprehensive report based on over 4,000 individual votes on the Florida Chamber’s 2020 Jobs Agenda.

Click here to read the complete Florida Chamber 2020 Legislative Summary.

###

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 critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Lawmakers Vote to Protect Florida’s Constitution

Provide Floridians Greater Transparency on Proposed Amendments

TALLAHASSEE, FL (March 11, 2020) – Today, the Florida Chamber of Commerce applauds the Florida Legislature for passing a bill that will provide Florida voters with greater information about proposed constitutional amendments and better protect our state’s foundational document.

Today’s bill passage comes on the heels of polling showing broad bipartisan consensus among Florida voters that it’s too easy for special interests to pass amendments to Florida’s Constitution.

While the Florida Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis have enacted measures that have brought greater transparency to the constitutional amendment signature gathering process, given voters more information at the ballot box, and protected our state’s foundational document from constitutional clutter, more work was needed.

With today’s passage of SB 1794 by Senator Travis Hutson, important safeguards will provide further protections, including:

-Allowing the Florida Supreme Court to clarify if a proposal violates the U.S. Constitution,
-Ending the state subsidy of petition gathering firms by requiring that a sponsor pay the actual cost of validating signatures incurred by Supervisors of Elections,
-Giving voters more information about the proposed measure, which is effectively permanent, when casting their vote, and
-Saving government resources and reducing uncertainty by requiring a higher threshold for Supreme Court review.

“For far too long, special interest groups have bought their way into Florida’s Constitution, by placing poll tested proposed amendment titles that do little to explain what the amendment actually does onto voters’ ballots. Now voters will have stronger facts and information to better understand the amendment before casting their vote,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

According to Florida Chamber statewide survey results released last week, when asked about the process for getting an amendment to the state constitution on the ballot, 76 percent of 800 likely voters said adjustments are needed compared to only 14 percent that said the process works very well and needs no adjustment.

The bill now travels to Governor DeSantis for his action, and the Florida Chamber is encouraging the Governor to sign the bill into law.

The Florida Chamber thanks both bill sponsors, Senator Travis Hutson and Representative James Grant (HB 7037), for their leadership on this legislation.

###

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 critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Florida Chamber Applauds Lawmakers for Passing Legislation Increasing Access to Healthcare Providers

Expanding Scope of Practice Particularly Helpful in Rural and Underserved Communities

TALLAHASSEE, FL (March 11, 2020) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce applauds the Florida Legislature for today passing a bill that will provide Floridians greater access to healthcare, particularly in rural and underserved communities. With the passage of HB 607 by Representative Cary Pigman, registered nurse practitioners and physician assistants will be able to practice medicine to the fullest extent of their formalized education and training.

The Florida Chamber’s Healthcare Partnership has a seven-year long history of supporting expanded scope of practice for Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs) to allow them to practice medicine to the full extent of their education and training.

“With 900 new residents moving to Florida each day, and 4.5 million more residents expected to call Florida home by 2030, it’s vital that Floridians have increased access to safe, quality healthcare,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

With the passage of HB 607, Florida is poised to put in place what 30 other states have already done – allow nurse practitioners who have completed formalized training, achieved a masters degree or higher, completed two years of supervised training and 3,000 clinical practice hours, to be able to practice.

The Florida Chamber thanks Representative Pigman (one of only two practicing physicians in the Florida House of Representatives), Speaker of the House Jose Oliva and Senator Ben Albritton for their leadership on this important issue.

###

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 critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Lawmakers Pass Legislation to Invest in Water Quality to Protect Florida’s Environment

TALLAHASSEE, FL (March 11, 2020) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce applauds the Florida Legislature for passing a bill that will help protect Florida’s environment by making long-term investments in water quality.

With 4.5 million more Floridians expected to call Florida home between now and 2030, there is an increasing need for protecting Florida’s natural resources.

Under SB 712 by Senator Debbie Mayfield, Florida is Investing in Water Quality by:

– Collecting improved water data,
– Eliminating the fringe legal philosophy known as the “rights of nature” movement that could undercut past and ongoing environmental restoration and protection efforts, and
– Increasing inspections and investing in septic to sewer conversions.

“The Florida Chamber has a long history of advocating for science-based, sustainable water policies in order to ensure Florida’s environmental and economic future. Investments in septic to sewer conversions represent an important step forward to protect Florida’s natural beauty which Floridians and our visitors treasure,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

SB 712 also prevents the so-called “rights of nature” movement that would have given legal rights to some water bodies and give standing for nearly any person to sue an individual, organization, business or government for otherwise lawful activities.

Representative Bobby Payne, sponsor of the House companion bill (HB 1343), recently championed the importance of this legislation on the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line.

“I would say it’s a comprehensive package that really looks at how we’re going to address nutrient loading coming from our water bodies,” Representative Payne said. “Those loadings are coming from on-site sewage treatment systems, sanitary sewer overflows, domestic wastewater overflows, some agricultural BMPs that we need to tighten up and get some better records on. Let’s face it, we know we’re at a point, and the Governor pointed it out, if we don’t do some things now, we’ll continue to have problems in the future.”

The Florida Chamber thanks both Senator Mayfield, Representative Payne and Representative Blaise Ingoglia for their leadership in sponsoring this legislation.

###

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 critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

New Statewide Survey Shows Broad Bipartisan Support for Protecting Florida’s Constitution

Likely Voters Say It’s Too Easy to Pass Amendments to Florida’s Constitution & Lawmakers Should Take Action

TALLAHASSEE, FL (March 5, 2020) –There is broad bipartisan consensus that it’s too easy to pass amendments to Florida’s Constitution, and the legislature must take action to prevent special interests from taking advantage of the system, according to the latest statewide survey of likely Florida voters released today by the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

“While the Florida Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis have enacted measures that have brought transparency to the signature gathering process, given voters more information at the ballot, and protected our state’s foundational document from constitutional clutter, Floridians recognize there’s still more work to be done to improve this process,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

When asked about the process for getting an amendment to the state constitution on the ballot, 76 percent of 800 likely voters said adjustments are needed, compared to only 14 percent that said the process works very well and needs no adjustment.

Right now, the Florida Legislature is considering two bills, SB 1794 by Senator Travis Hutson and HB 7037 by Representative James Grant, that would provide stronger transparency by allowing voters to have more information about the measure when casting their vote.

When given a detailed description of SB 1794, 60 percent of voters said they support the bill. Again, survey results show this is far from partisan, with strong majorities of both parties, as well as independents, expressing support for the reform:

  TOTAL DEM IND REP
FAVOR 60% 55% 57% 69%
OPPOSE 21% 27% 24% 14%

Support for SB 1794 is largely driven by the perception that it’s too easy to take advantage of the current system due to the ease of amending the state constitution. When asked whether they agree or disagree that the Florida Legislature needs to do more to stop special interest groups from abusing the process, 78 percent of voters agreed.

  TOTAL DEM IND REP
AGREE 78% 75% 84% 78%
DISAGREE 15% 18% 11% 14%

“This robust response makes it clear that voters are ready for the Florida Legislature to act on what they see as an abuse of the constitutional amendment process,” Hart added.

SB 1794 is on the Senate Special Order Calendar for March 6, while HB 7037 is on the House Special Order Calendar for today, March 5.

ABOUT THIS POLL: The Florida Chamber of Commerce survey was conducted on March 1-3 by OnMessage, Inc. during live telephone interviews. The survey consists of 800 likely voters and was stratified to reflect historical turnout and the margin of error for this survey is +/-3.46%.

###

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 critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Florida Chamber Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish Details The Coronavirus’ Threats on Florida’s Economy

“With companies cutting their GDP forecasts, 30-year mortgages at an eight-year low, and manufacturers idling their factories because of supply-chain issues, all of this is having an effect on Florida’s economy.”

– Dr. Jerry Parrish

TALLAHASSEE, Fla (February 25, 2020) – Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish says Florida should be “concerned, but not panicked” about the coronavirus’s threats on Florida’s economy.

“Yesterday the Dow dropped by more than 1,000 points, companies are cutting their GDP forecasts, 30-year mortgages are at an eight-year low, manufacturers are idling their factories because of supply chain issues. All of this is having an effect on Florida’s economy, and it could continue. This is certainly a concern, but it’s not anything to panic about,” Dr. Parrish explained in his latest Florida By The Numbers report.

According to Dr. Parrish, Florida’s most vulnerable industries include:

• International Visitors
• Cruise Passengers
• Imports/Exports
• Manufacturing Jobs

The 10-year government bond, and the three-month T-bill are now showing an inversion.

“An inversion of the yield curve has been a reliable, but not perfect signal, of a future recession. This is one of the metrics that goes into the calculation of the probability of a Florida recession which is on TheFloridaScorecard.org,” Dr. Parrish explained. “The probability of Florida being in a recession over the next nine months has now increased to 24.1 percent.”

# # #

Florida’s Top Economic Development Leader Pushes for VISIT FLORIDA and Qualified Targeted Industry Investments

Shares How Florida’s DEO is Helping with Long-Term Hurricane Disaster Relief

TALLAHASSEE, Fla (February 25, 2020) – With the Florida Legislature currently putting finishing touches on Florida’s next state budget, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity CEO Ken Lawson tells the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line that Floridians enjoy a friendly tax climate because of Florida’s visitors contributing to the economy.

“By virtue of tourism, we’re not paying a state income tax,” said Lawson. “Out-of-state tourists are investing in Florida, spending money across the state, that means that’s increasing our tax base. So, it’s very important that VISIT FLORIDA is funded to help market the state across the country and the world.”

Director Lawson, Florida’s top economic development leader, also shared the importance of not letting the Qualified Targeted Industries (QTI) program sunset.

“QTI is a great tool for small, medium and large communities across Florida. This tool causes companies to create jobs in aerospace, finance and diversified areas,” he explained about the program that allows job creators who invest in their business, create jobs and pay their taxes, to seek tax refunds based on their investment.

Director Lawson also highlights how DEO is playing a vital role in helping with long-term hurricane disaster recovery.

“Under Governor DeSantis’s leadership, DEO is fully committed to long-term disaster recovery, ensuring they put funds out across the State of Florida,” Lawson said. “With Hurricane Irma, we awarded $300 million so far, with Hurricane Michael we are working on our state action plan.”

Click HERE to watch the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line public affairs program.

# # #

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 critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Senator Jeff Brandes Calls for Narrowing the Use of Contingency Fee Multipliers – the “Slot Machine” for the Legal Profession – on the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line

TALLAHASSEE, FL (February 21, 2020) – As the Florida Legislature tackles narrowing the use of contingency fee multipliers, Senator Jeff Brandes tells the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line that these fee escalators were never designed to be “the slot machines for the legal profession.”

In fact, contingency fee multipliers, which are used by trial lawyers to get legal fees two or three times higher than their normal, hourly rate, are only granted in “rare and exceptional” circumstances everywhere but Florida.

“We’re trying to level the playing field and set the standards as where it is in the rest of the 49 states and the federal standard,” Brandes explains.

Florida’s bottom five legal climate is costing the average family $4,442 each year in lawsuit abuse ‘taxes.’ Lawsuit abuse reform is a top legislative priority for the Florida Chamber.

Senator Brandes also discusses criminal justice reform as well as the future of innovation and disruptive technologies.

# # #

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 critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Florida Workforce 2030 Shows Changing Landscape of the ‘World of Work’ Requires New Skills

92% of Industry Leaders Poised to Hire, Yet 81% Concerned About Lack of Employability Skills

TALLAHASSEE, FL (February 13, 2020) – Robots, automation, artificial intelligence, new innovations and technology are significantly changing the landscape of what will be required of Florida’s workforce, and the skills that Florida students will need as they plan their future, according to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s latest report Florida Workforce 2030. While industry leaders are poised to hire, they’re increasingly concerned about the lack of employability skills.

With the world of work becoming increasingly complex, to remain globally competitive, Florida must lead by developing, attracting and retaining a strong talent pool, Florida Workforce 2030 explains.

“To build America’s best workforce in Florida, we must prepare students for global competition. That means better aligning programs and standards with future job demands, training and attracting the best and brightest for advancement and new careers, and increasing economic prosperity for all Floridians – starting with our youngest learners,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Through a series of industry leader roundtables, surveys and research, Florida Workforce 2030 shows that five of Florida’s targeted growth sectors – Aviation and Aerospace, Financial and Professional Services, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Manufacturing, Trade and Logistics – will require talent that embraces technological advancements, artificial intelligence, automation and innovation. According to the report, industry leaders reveal that:

“I applaud the Florida Chamber’s focus on workforce education and supporting Governor DeSantis’ goal of becoming the number one state in the nation for workforce education by 2030. With Florida’s population growing to more than 26 million by 2030, it is imperative that we focus on building a talented and highly skilled workforce to fill the jobs of the future. I look forward to working with the Governor, Legislature and Chamber to ensure that goal,” said Florida Commissioner of Education, Richard Corcoran.

To prepare for projected shifts in Florida’s labor market, the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Workforce 2030 highlights five core recommendations for policymakers, educators and Florida’s business community to unite around. They are:

  1. Recommit to long-term, continuous strengthening of every stage of our education system by providing career pathways focused on industry needs. This includes adults needing to upskill, re-skill or complete a credential to be competitive in the workplace, as well as for middle and high school students in order to increase educational attainment levels.
  2. Emphasize work-based learning opportunities as part of education in high school and beyond and all students should be encouraged to earn at least one high-quality, industry-recognized certification to ensure that they graduate with career and workforce competencies that are valued by employees.
  3. Identify strategies that address equity gaps to ensure upward mobility opportunities for all Floridians. Closing the educational attainment and labor participation gaps in Florida between racial and ethnic groups, as well as urban and rural populations, is essential to Florida’s future.
  4. Invest economic development dollars in proven, scalable training programs for adults and other incumbent workers while creating public-private partnerships through targeted incentives, and re-training for high-demand jobs that will help build local talent pipelines.
  5. Utilize data to inform policy and best practices including metrics that measure education attainment, employment, earnings, future population and workforce needs.

Florida Workforce 2030 was presented to Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, Senate President Bill Galvano, House Speaker Jose Oliva, and members of the Florida Talent Development Council which was established by Governor DeSantis to develop a coordinated, data-driven, statewide approach to meeting Florida’s needs for a 21st-century workforce.

Florida Workforce 2030, along with an Industry Roundtable and Survey Summary along with Industry Career Path details for Florida’s five targeted growth sectors, are available at www.FLChamber.com/FloridaWorkforce2030.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING:

“CareerSource Florida applauds the Florida Chamber Foundation for its ongoing work to help Governor DeSantis ensure our state becomes No. 1 in the nation in workforce education. We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this important research through state and local perspectives on the evolution of talent development needs for Florida’s growing industries.” Michelle Dennard, President and CEO, CareerSource Florida

“Workforce development education is a major factor to secure Florida’s economic prosperity for years to come, and I am proud to support Governor DeSantis’ goal of Florida leading the nation in workforce development by 2030. I commend the Florida Chamber’s spotlight on building a talent pipeline that will lead to innovation and competitiveness, ultimately resulting in higher wages and a sustainable economy. Florida’s future looks especially bright and I am looking forward to working with Governor DeSantis, the Legislature and the Florida Chamber to make these important strategic goals a reality.” Dr. Eric Hall, Chancellor for Innovation, Florida Department of Education

“The Florida Chamber Foundation has set the course for adopting a data-driven approach to meeting Florida’s future workforce needs.  The Florida Workforce 2030 report aligns perfectly with the Florida 2030 Blueprint and after listening to the needs of employers across the state, provides long-term recommendations for a 21st century workforce.” Todd Powell, Vice President of Real Estate, Weyerhaeuser & Chair, Florida Chamber Foundation

# # #

Governor DeSantis’s Legislative Affairs Director Stephanie Kopelousos Shares Insights on EFI, Legal Reform & VISIT FLORIDA on the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line

TALLAHASSEE, FL (February 12, 2020) – When Governor Ron DeSantis outlined his 2020 legislative priorities during his annual State of the State speech just five weeks ago, he encouraged lawmakers to continue improving on Florida’s bottom-five legal environment by passing meaningful lawsuit abuse reforms.

On the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line, Stephanie Kopelousos, Legislative Affairs Director for Governor Ron DeSantis explains why it’s important to improve on Florida’s bottom-five legal climate.

“I think you see legislation this session that are going through that I think will make a difference. But the Governor’s made it a clear priority, just look at how many judicial appointments he’s made in really trying to get us from the bottom – we are at the bottom – in making that climate better for Floridians,” Kopelousos says.

Additionally, with a budget battle brewing between the House and Senate, Kopelousos explains why it’s important for the legislature to invest, as Governor DeSantis has recommended, in Florida’s tourism marketing and economic development programs by funding VISIT FLORIDA and Enterprise Florida, Inc.

# # #

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 critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Septic to Sewer Conversions in Florida Keys Have Improved Water Quality, and Stand as an Example for Improving Water North of Lake Okeechobee

TALLAHASSEE, FL (February 4, 2020) — Scientists, fishermen, and environmental leaders agree that the success of septic to sewer conversions in the Florida Keys is a shining example of how the same process could be used to improve water quality in the Everglades Basin extending north to Orlando.

As part of its ongoing environmental stewardship efforts to help secure Florida’s water future, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today released the latest in a series of educational videos featuring the research of Dr. Brian Lapointe, research Professor at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.

Lawmakers are considering water quality bills this legislative session, including Senator Debbie Mayfield’s SB 712 that calls for converting from septic tanks to sewage treatment centers. The bill is expected to be heard Wednesday, in Senate Appropriations.

“With 4.5 million more people expected to call Florida home by 2030, and 50 million more visitors expected each year – on top of the 127 million that visited last year – ensuring Florida’s water future is sustainable and provides the quality of life Floridians and visitors deserve is vital,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Lapointe’s research of Looe Key Reef extend back 35 years, and shows the amounts of algae in the water have doubled since 1984.Point sources for increasing nitrogen in the water are traced to sewage and non-point sources coming from the Everglades Basin that extends north, all the way up to Orlando.

“What you clearly see from the data is that every time you dump more water into Florida Bay from the north, you get larger algae blooms,” Larry Brand, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Marine Biology and Economy, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science said.

But as local commercial fisherman Mike Laudicina explains, “Down in Key Haven off of Key West, which has had sewers from day one, the canals in there are like I remember (from early in his career), you could see the bottom, you could see the fish.”

“So regionally, the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Plan needs to be funded and implemented which calls for increased storage and treatment of water north of Lake Okeechobee, that will help protect Lake Okeechobee and the downstream waters in Florida Bay,” Lapointe explained.

The Florida Chamber has long advocated for long-term sustainable water and environmental policies, and since March 2016, has championed an educational partnership with Dr. Lapointe. Dr. Lapointe has extensive experience in water quality research in South Florida and the Caribbean region. His research has led to greater nutrient removal from sewage effluents in Monroe County, his long-term water quality monitoring at Looe Key Reef in the Florida Keys represents the longest low-level nutrient record for a coral reef anywhere in the world.

Experts also featured in this educational video include:
Charles Patterson, Executive Director, Monroe County Land Authority
Captain Keith L. Douglass, Director of Facilities, Boy Scouts of America, High Adventure Sea Base
Bill Louda, Ph.D., Research Professor, Florida Atlantic University
James W. Miller, Florida Institute of Oceanography, Retired
Tommy Strowd, P.E., Director of Operations & Maintenance, Lake Worth Drainage District
Don Demaria, Commercial Fisherman

Securing Florida’s Water Future is a series of educational videos solely focused on ensuring Florida’s water future is sustainable and provides the quality of life Floridians and visitors deserve. Educational videos have focused on Indian River Lagoon, the Florida Keys, Southwest Florida, Florida’s Springs, the St. Lucie Estuary, the Kissimmee River, Caloosahatchee, and North of Lake Okeechobee.

For more information, please visit Securing Florida’s Water Future online.

# # #

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 critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Representative Tom Leek Puts Consumers Ahead of Billboard Trial Lawyers with Bill Stopping Scare Tactics Aimed at Seniors

TALLAHASSEE, FL (February 3, 2020) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce continues turning up the pressure on Florida’s bottom five legal climate, joining Governor Ron DeSantis and legislative leaders to take on billboard trial lawyers. Lawsuit abuse impacts all Floridians, costing the average family $4,442 each year in lawsuit abuse ‘taxes.’

On the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line, Representative Tom Leek explains why it’s important to put consumers ahead of billboard lawyers – particularly those that are deploying scare tactics aimed at seniors. Rep. Leek’s legal advertising bill, CJS2, will be heard Tuesday in the Civil Justice Subcommittee.

Rep. Leek also discusses accuracy in damages and asbestos trust claims.

Accuracy in Damages: This legislation allows a jury to see the usual and customary amount of a medical service, ensuring the cost of medical care is not inflated specifically for personal injury cases, and effectively curtailing the gamesmanship being used with letters of protection. (HB 9)

Asbestos Trust Claims: This legislation brings transparency to the trust claim process and ensures that claims move legitimately through the judicial process. (HB 741)

Asbestos Trust Claims: This legislation brings transparency to the trust claim process and ensures that claims move legitimately through the judicial process. (HB 741)

Predatory Practices by Lawsuit Lenders: This legislation provides greater transparency to help ensure that consumers understand the terms of the loan and that all parties of the case are aware that others could benefit from the outcome of the case. (HB 7041)

###

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 critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Florida’s Constitution Shouldn’t Be a Playground for Politics, Representative Jamie Grant Shares on the Latest Edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (January 29, 2020) — The Florida Chamber of Commerce has a long history of protecting Florida’s Constitution from special interests’ groups who try to buy their way into Florida’s foundational document.

On the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line, Representative Jamie Grant explains why Florida’s Constitution shouldn’t be a “playground for politics.”

Representative Grant is sponsoring HB 7037 which would:

• Allow the Florida Supreme Court to ensure that a proposal doesn’t violate the U.S. constitution,
• Provide voters greater transparency about the measure they’re voting on, and
• Increase the signature threshold from 10 to 50 percent before an initiative gets a Supreme Court review.

In addition to discussing Florida’s constitutional amendment process, Representative Grant explains the importance of HB 1, which protects employee paychecks from garnishing union dues without their consent.

# # #

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 critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Florida Chamber of Commerce Applauds President Trump for Signing the USMCA Trade Agreement Into Law

“Florida Wins with USMCA Trade Agreement”

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (January 29, 2020) – Selling more Florida goods and services around the world is vital to creating jobs, and helping local businesses grow Florida’s economy from the 17th largest in the world to the 10th largest.

With President Donald Trump’s signature, the new U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) law will help preserve and strengthen U.S. trade ties to Canada and Mexico – two of Florida’s top six countries for Florida-origin exports.

“With more than 2.5 million high-wage Florida jobs depending on international trade, the Florida Chamber of Commerce thanks President Trump for signing the USMCA trade agreement. USMCA will benefit Florida’s agriculture industry, manufacturers and local businesses, and will help grow Florida’s $57 billion exports of goods and $43 billion in exports of services,” said Bob Grammig, Chair, Florida Chamber of Commerce’s International Trade Division, and Partner, Holland & Knight. “The Florida Chamber’s International Trade Division will continue fighting to strengthen Florida’s position as a global trade leader and will continue working to ensure Florida’s exports in goods double and exports in services triple by 2030.”

Data from TheFloridaScorecard.org shows just how important trade is to Florida’s economy:

In uniting Florida’s business community for good, the Florida Chamber stood up for local businesses in supporting USMCA in the halls of Congress, on editorial pages and in letters to lawmakers, and we’re committed to protecting this important economic engine.

# # #

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 critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Florida Voters Strong on Governor DeSantis, Down on Impeachment Removal from Office, Concerned Most About Healthcare Costs and Finding Skilled Workers

Latest Florida Chamber Political Poll and Small Business Survey Show

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (January 21, 2020) – Governor Ron DeSantis continues to enjoy strong approval ratings among voters (68-18 percent), which is helping bolster voters’ feelings that Florida is moving in the right direction (63 to 24 percent), according to the latest statewide poll from the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

And as the impeachment trial gets underway in the U.S. Senate today, Florida voters do not approve of the Senate removing President Donald Trump from office, with 52 percent of voters disapproving and 43 percent approving.

While healthcare tops the list of issues voters would like the Florida Legislature to tackle this session (18 percent), the Florida Chamber’s Small Business Index Survey shows that job creators are still most concerned about finding qualified workers to fill the 284,800 open jobs.

“Floridians are confident in Governor DeSantis and, while they’re concerned about healthcare costs and workforce quality, support his efforts to help keep Florida moving in the right direction and champion solutions,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

With the road to the White House running through Florida, presidential head-to-head races show Donald Trump leading Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Mike Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg.

Here’s how the numbers break down:

Governor DeSantis Approve/Disapprove:

68% approve
18% disapprove
14% unsure

Florida Right/Wrong Direction:


63% right direction
24% wrong track
13% not sure

After impeachment, should President Trump be removed from office?


TOTAL VOTERS:
52% disapprove, 43% approve
DEMOCRATS: 73% approve, 20% disapprove
NPA’s: 50% approve, 46% disapprove
REPUBLICANS: 87% disapprove, 9% approve

What issues should the legislature address?


Healthcare Costs 18%
Jobs/Economy 12%
Environment 9%
Education 9%
Immigration 6%

What’s keeping job creators up at night?

Florida Chamber’s Small Business Index Survey
Workforce quality 28%
Healthcare Costs 13%
Government Regulations 12%
Economic Uncertainty 10%

Presidential Head-to-Heads


                            Head-to-Head                  DEM               REP                NPA

Trump/Biden             49/45                          16/78              88/7                41/51

Trump/Warren          50/43                          17/75              90/7                41/50

Trump/Bloomberg    49/44                          16/75              87/8                40/53

Trump/Buttigieg        50/43                          19/72              87/9                40/51

In addition to measuring where voters stand on candidates and issues, the latest polling results show that NPAs continue to lead in voter registrations. In December, the latest month for which the state has data, 29 percent of new voters registered as Democrats, 34 percent registered as Republicans, and 37 percent registered as NPA – for a total of 50,733 total voter registrations in Florida. Total state voter registrations show 37 percent are Democrats, 35 percent are Republicans and 28 percent are NPAs.

ABOUT THIS POLL:

The Florida Chamber of Commerce political poll was conducted on January 3-12,2020 by Cherry Communications during live telephone interviews of likely voters, and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent. The sample size included 247 Democrats, 241 Republicans and 120 Others for a total of 608 respondents statewide. The samples for the polls conducted by the Florida Chamber are consistently drawn from likely voters and newly registered voters, meaning those voters who have the propensity and past performance of voting in elections, rather than simply including registered voters.  Voters are again screened for likelihood of voting.

# # #

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 critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.