Florida Chamber Releases 2020 Jobs Agenda

FLORIDA CHAMBER’S 2020 JOBS AGENDA

Keeping Florida’s Momentum Going and Predicting 200,000 New Jobs in 2020

“Making Florida more competitive is essential for job and economic growth.”

MARK WILSON, President and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce

TALLAHASSEE, FL (January 13, 2020) – Job creators are gathering in Tallahassee this week with optimism that Florida can keep the momentum going, create 200,000 new jobs this year, and strengthen Florida’s economy even more through actions by the Florida Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis. Additionally, job creators have released the Florida Chamber’s 2020 Jobs Agenda, commonly referred to as the Florida Business Agenda, which highlights where the Florida Chamber stands on key legislative decisions. 

Business leaders from throughout Florida are gathering this week at the Capitol as part of the Florida Chamber’s Annual Legislative Fly-In, and are sharing the Florida Chamber’s 2020 Jobs Agenda which will help create jobs, lower the cost of living and lift incomes – with the belief that Florida’s best days are yet to come.

The Florida Chamber is uniting the business community for good to:

– Lower the Cost of Living,
-Reduce the Cost of Doing Business, and
-Better Prepare for Florida’s Future Growth.

These are ideas outlined in Florida’s 2030 Blueprint, commonly known as Florida’s next Strategic Plan.

“The Florida Chamber’s annual jobs and competitiveness agenda – the Florida Business Agenda – is a set of priorities that will help grow private sector jobs, continue to create economic opportunity in Florida and further diversify our economy,” said Charles Caulkins, Chair of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Partner at Fisher Phillips.

For the last nine years, Florida has outpaced the U.S. economy in job growth. As Florida will grow at approximately 900 new residents daily, Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish predicts that Florida will create 200,000 new jobs in 2020 and that the Sunshine State has a lower probability of recession than last year.

“If Florida was a stock, it would be considered a strong buy. While Florida’s economic outlook for 2020 is positive, it’s not without risks which is why passing the Florida Chamber’s Jobs Agenda is so important,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The Florida Chamber’s 2020 Jobs Agenda Includes:

Lowering the Cost of Living:

Lawsuit abuse essentially amounts to additional taxes on Florida families over $4,000 each year. Florida’s lawsuit climate currently ranks 46 out of 50 in a national survey conducted by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.

  • The Florida Legislature should improve Florida’s legal climate by passing common-sense reforms to curtail abuse of Florida’s legal system.

“If we make the legal climate so it’s based on the clients rather than the attorneys, I think that would be a better climate,” Governor Ron DeSantis said when the national survey ranking Florida’s lawsuit climate among the nation’s worst was released.

Reducing Florida’s Cost of Doing Business:

Discouraging and anti-competitive tax policies, like the Florida-only business rent tax and lack of internet sales tax collection, make Florida less competitive.

  • The Florida Legislature should advance globally competitive tax policies by reducing the Business Rent Tax and modernizing Florida’s tax code to collect sales tax on internet transactions from out-of-state retailers.

Preparing for the Future Growth:

According to www.TheFloridaScorecard.org, there are 284,800 jobs looking for people and 323,000 people looking for jobs. Finding a qualified workforce is a top concern for job creators. Employers need talent that is prepared to enter the workforce, and Florida wins when we close the talent gap.

The Florida Legislature should:

  • Continue to focus on early learning, talent and workforce shortage solutions. 
  • Continue to support the legislatively-created Talent Development Council to develop a coordinated, data-driven, statewide approach to meeting Florida’s needs for a 21st century workforce that employers and educators use as part of Florida’s talent supply system. This also supports Governor DeSantis’s efforts to have the number one workforce in America.

By 2030, 4.5 million more residents will call Florida home. A growing Florida means a growing need for forward-thinking infrastructure investments in Florida’s energy, water, transportation, telecommunications, agriculture and other hard and soft infrastructure sectors.

The Florida Chamber’s Infrastructure Coalition recommends that the Florida Legislature:

  • Continue to make long-term investments in energy, transportation, resiliency and water policy for Florida’s future.

Florida is currently experiencing a shortage of access to high-value, quality healthcare and that is a problem that will continue to grow as Florida’s population grows. That is why we support expanding scope of practice laws to allow for greater access to care, particularly in rural and underserved communities.

The Florida Chamber’s Healthcare Partnership encourages the Florida Legislature to:

  • Support expanding scope of practice for Advanced Practitioners and allow them to practice medicine to the full extent of their education and training.

“Year after year, the Florida Chamber has been at the forefront of solving issues that impact the competitiveness and future of Florida’s business climate. Our focus remains steadfast in our efforts to be the driving force uniting Florida’s business community for good, creating economic opportunity and growing jobs,” Wilson added.

The Florida Chamber will track each bill on the Florida Business Agenda, and votes will be used as the basis for grading lawmakers at the conclusion of the Legislative Session. We look forward to working with Governor DeSantis, Senate President Bill Galvano and Speaker of the House Jose Oliva to keep Florida’s momentum going.

The Florida Chamber’s 2020 Florida Business Agenda can be downloaded HERE.

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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.

2020 Florida Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity

Did you know more than 3 million Floridians live in poverty? Of those, more than 260,000 are under age 5.

Join business and industry leaders as well as elected officials and community voices us as we analyze a path to prosperity for each of Florida’s zip codes. We will also discuss best practices around the state, how they can be replicated and more. Conversations will also focus around 10 topic areas that the Florida Chamber Foundation’s research shows are: Jobs, Education, Housing, Health, Food, Safety, Child care, Justice, Transportation and Agency-Community voice.

Florida Business Leaders Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity
May 19, 2020
The Westin Sarasota
Sarasota, Florida

To have your logo featured here, click here or contact Aaron Kinnon at AKinnon@FlFoundation.org.

Making Florida More Competitive is Essential for Jobs and Economic Growth

 

Watch Our News Conference     Download Where We Stand

 

The 2019 Legislative Session begins in earnest next week, and as we prepare to enter this 60-day event, we are reminded that choices matter. The Florida Chamber of Commerce’s annual jobs and competitiveness policy agenda, commonly referred to as the Florida Business Agenda, is a set of priorities that will help grow private sector jobs, continue to create economic opportunity in Florida and further diversify our economy.

Year after year, the Florida Chamber has been on the front lines of solving issues that impact the competitiveness and future of Florida’s business climate. While time passes, our focus remains the same – to be the driving force in uniting Florida’s business community, creating economic opportunities and growing private-sector jobs.

In many ways, Florida is moving in the right direction; but the truth is, things are fragile. Political inaction and uncertainty, changing demographics and unprecedented amounts of out-of-state special interests pose a threat to Florida’s sustainability and competitiveness.

Making Florida more competitive is essential for economic growth and job creation, which is why the Florida Chamber is calling on lawmakers to reduce the cost of living, reduce the cost of doing business and to prepare for Florida’s future growth.

For more than eight years, Florida has outpaced the U.S. economy in job growth. Growing at just under 900 new residents daily, Florida Chamber Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish predicts that Florida will create 150,000 new jobs in 2019 and that the Sunshine State has a very low probability of recession.

I’ve often said that if Florida was a stock, I’d buy all the stock I could. While Florida’s economic outlook for 2019 is positive, it’s not without risks, which is why passing the Florida Chamber’s Jobs Agenda is so important.

 

Reducing the Cost of Living

When it comes to reducing the cost of living, the Florida Legislature should put consumers ahead of trial lawyers and finally end Assignment of Benefits (AOB) scams that the Wall Street Journal and others have consistently written about. I encourage you to learn more about AOB fraud and abuse by reading this Pensacola News Journal article that Harold Kim, COO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform and I recently published.

 

Lowering the Cost of Doing Business

To lower the cost of doing business, lawmakers must fix Florida’s broken lawsuit climate. Florida’s bottom-five legal climate translates to a $4,442 tax on Florida families. Click here to see what leaders from Allstate, Safelite, People’s Trust Insurance, and Ron Jon Surf Shop have to say about Florida’s “judicial hellhole.”

 

Preparing for Future Growth

With 26 million people expected to call Florida home by 2030, and three million more drivers on our roads, it’s important that Florida’s infrastructure is prepared for this future growth. Therefore the Florida Chamber and its Infrastructure Coalition recommend that lawmakers champion innovations and adequate funding in all modes of transportation, secure affordable, efficient and sustainable energy solutions, champion long-term, sustainable water and environmental policies and ensure proactive economic planning and development.

Further, preparing for future growth also means ensuring that we have a qualified workforce to close the talent gap. That’s why we will again encourage the legislature to prepare Florida’s workforce to address the skills gap, and improve attainment and access to higher education and post-secondary learning.

2019 Florida Business Agenda

During last week’s 2019 Legislative Fly-In we had the opportunity to share your 2019 Florida Business Agenda with Governor Ron DeSantis and members of the Florida Legislature, the Cabinet and state agency leaders. Chief among guest speakers were Governor DeSantis, who hosted Legislative Fly-In attendees at a reception at the Governor’s Mansion, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Ken Lawson, Florida Department of Transportation Senior Policy Advisor Doug Callaway, Representative Chris Sprowls and Senators Wilton Simpson and Joe Gruters.

Each week during the legislative session, you’ll receive the Florida Chamber’s Weekly Legislative Update and learn the latest on how the Florida Business Agenda is fairing. When important “pro-biz” votes are scheduled, we’ll reach out and encourage you to share your support with lawmakers. And when there are bad “no-biz” bills that may force additional employer mandates on job creators, we’ll be there to push back against those who want free enterprise to fail.

Thank you for your support of free enterprise and in us.

Florida Chamber 2018 Legislative Fly-In

 

Register     Agenda     Book Your Hotel

 

Please join us for the Florida Chamber’s Legislative Fly-In, formerly known as Capitol Days, and connect with legislators, state leaders and
Florida’s top business leaders.

 

FLORIDA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE’S  2018 LEGISLATIVE FLY-IN  l  February 19-21, 2019

Augustus B. Turnbull, III Florida State Conference Center
555 W. Pensacola Street – Tallahassee, Florida 32306
AND
Florida State Capitol Complex
400 S. Monroe Street – Tallahassee, Florida 32399

Highlights Will Include

  • State of the State Business Address
  • 2019 Florida Business Agenda
  • Networking Opportunities with Florida’s Legislative Delegation
  • And More

 

Florida Chamber Board Chair Invites You to Join us in September

 

Register     Book Your Hotel

 

Florida Chamber Board Chair Bob Grammig Invites You to Join us at the 2018 Future of Florida Forum

Have you registered for the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2018 Future of Florida Forum? Join us as Florida’s business leaders, industry experts and elected officials from around the state lead conversations on topics from the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida 2030 research, including:

  • Florida’s cradle to career continuum and preparing tomorrow’s workforce,
  • Diversifying national and global markets,
  • Preparing Florida’s infrastructure and transportation systems for the next 5.4 million residents,
  • Creating the nation’s best business climate,
  • Promoting economic opportunity for all Floridians,
  • The future of connected communities,
  • and more!

Click here for a snap shot of the Future of Florida agenda.

The Future of Florida Forum will once again work alongside the Florida Commission on the Status of Women to host the 2018 Florida Women’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, to honor women who have made a significant contribution to Florida.

Florida Chamber of Commerce Summarizes Legislative Session

Despite Several Wins, Florida Legislature Makes It a Bit More Expensive for Families and Small Businesses, and a Little Less Competitive for Florida’s Job Creators

 

TALLAHASSEE, FL (March 12, 2018) – Lawmakers rightfully took steps this session to implement school safety measures following the Parkland tragedy, but overall results of the 2018 Legislative Session show lawmakers made it a bit more expensive for families and small businesses, and a little less competitive for Florida’s job creators.

 

“Rightly so, the last three weeks of session were focused on school safety following the Parkland tragedy. Unfortunately, when you look at the other work of the legislature, on balance they made it a little more expensive for families and a little less competitive for businesses,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

 

Florida Chamber advocates defeated a dozen efforts to increase employer mandates, implement overreaching regulations, further worsen Florida’s abysmal lawsuit abuse climate, and limit transportation opportunities. Those included: PIP repeal without bad faith reforms, a ban on plastic bags, patient culture, minimum wage increases, hurricane-related employer mandates, open carry liability, interruption of services, anti-rail, anti-fracking, expansion of gambling, attacks on the hurricane catastrophe fund, prejudgment interest, and more.

Outside the political circle of Tallahassee, businesses are highly concerned about hiring talented team members for the 250,100 unfilled jobs, rising auto and homeowner’s insurance rates, the $1.5 billion impact from workers’ compensation rates, and shady trial lawyers targeting businesses with “gotcha” lawsuits. Yet, for the second year in a row, some in the Florida Senate chose not to advance pro-jobs legislation that lowers the cost of living on families and businesses, and further lifts up jobs and economic opportunity.

Click here for the most recent comprehensive outline of what passed as well as unfinished business on the Florida Chamber’s 2018 Jobs Agenda.

 

Did Not Lower Cost of Living on Families

Floridians currently pay the sixth highest automobile insurance rates, and homeowners are facing up to a 10 percent increase in their property insurance rates. Unchecked fraud and legal scams are known to be contributing to rising insurance rates.

  • Some in the Florida Senate failed to protect consumers from Assignment of Benefits scams that are raising auto and homeowner’s rates.

In support of families, lawmakers did take steps to make it harder for the legislature to increase taxes and fees in the future. This bill will now appear on the 2018 general election ballot, and must be approved by voters.

 

Did Not Lower Cost of Doing Business

Florida has been named the worst “Judicial Hellhole” in the country, and inaction by some in the Senate resulted in failure to improve Florida’s legal climate. Some in the Florida Senate:

  • Chose not to address the $1.5 billion impact from workers’ comp rates that remain 14.5 percent higher than they should be.
  • Chose not to fix Florida’s broken lawsuit climate that costs families an average of $3,400 each year in lawsuit abuse costs.

Toward strengthening Florida’s business climate, lawmakers took steps to continue chipping away at the Business Rent Tax (BRT). Included within the approved legislative tax package is a 0.1 cent BRT reduction, which brings the two-year total BRT reduction down by 0.3 cents.

 

Took Steps to Invest in Florida’s Future

The Florida Legislature is to be commended for taking steps to invest in Florida’s future by:

  • Passing a near record level transportation budget, $10.5 billion,
  • Further improving Florida’s K-12 schools with computer science instruction,
  • Strengthening the State University System of Florida,
  • Increasing the membership threshold to certify some public employee unions,
  • Reducing confusion and time delays in wetland permitting processes, and
  • Investing in VISIT FLORIDA and Enterprise Florida’s Job Growth Grant Fund.

However, lawmakers reduced investments in Florida’s workforce colleges – a disappointing move in the Florida Chamber’s efforts to ensure good jobs for all.

 

School Safety

The Florida Chamber commends lawmakers for taking steps to ensure Florida has the procedures and laws in place to give our children, as well as their parents, the assurances they need to learn. Florida has shown Washington, D.C., and the rest of the country how to lead. With bipartisan support, and support of all 17 families that lost loved ones in Parkland on February 14, the Governor and Legislature – under the leadership of Senator Bill Galvano and Representative Jose Oliva – passed legislation that will further protect students. Governor Scott has signed this bill into law.

 

Moving Forward

Following a year in which sitting lawmakers earned the lowest grades in the history of the Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card, the Florida Chamber will once again soon release its Legislative Report Card — a comprehensive report based on over 2,600 individual votes on the Florida Chamber’s 2018 Jobs Agenda.

 

“While we’re looking forward to working with future leadership, the Florida Chamber looks forward to ensuring candidates that believe in jobs and growing the economy to support families are elected during the 2018 election cycle,” said Will Weatherford, Chair, Florida Chamber Political Council, and Partner, Weatherford Capital.

 

Click here to read the Florida Chamber’s 2018 Legislative Summary.

 

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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 Unveils 2017 Legislative Report Card

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.

 

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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

2017 Legislative Summary

 

Download Legislative Summary

 

“Thanks to the thousands of businesses that stood with the Florida Chamber to help make Florida more competitive during the 2017 Florida Legislative Session. While lawmakers did pass important legislation, we look forward to future opportunities to lower costs on families and businesses, and to putting Florida’s 483,000 unemployed Floridians back to work,” said MARK WILSON, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The Florida Chamber’s 2017 Legislative Summary provides a more comprehensive outline of what passed as well as unfinished business.

 

House-Proposed Gaming Compact Protects Florida’s Family-Friendly Brand

For over twenty years, the Florida Chamber has been opposed to the expansion of gambling in Florida, especially “Las Vegas-style” casinos, as we believe it is contrary to our family friendly brand and not the type of economic development our state needs. It is the Florida Chamber’s belief that a renewed state compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida is the best way to limit the expansion of gambling in the state, by containing it to tribal lands. We must continue to protect Florida’s unique economy and long term potential growth by rejecting any further expansion of gambling in our state.

The Florida Chamber supports House Bill 7037 and its sponsor, Representative Mike LaRosa, for holding strong against any further expansion of gambling in Florida. The House’s bill stands in contrast to Senate Bill 8, which is sponsored by Senator Bill Galvano and calls for a vast expansion of slot machines and gaming. Both the House and Senate gambling bills were passed out of their respective committees last week. SB 8’s next stop is the Senate floor, whereas HB 7037 has not received its next committee reference yet.

As it has for more than two decades, the Florida Chamber will continue fighting to protect our family-friendly brand by opposing the expansion of Las Vegas-style casino gambling, as is done in SB 8, while continuing to advocate for a renewed Seminole Gaming Compact, as is done in HB 7037.

 

Take Action Now

Click here for more information on the Florida Chamber’s 20-year opposition to gambling expansion in Florida, or contact me at bhunt@flchamber.com.

Mega-Casinos Are a Bad Bet for Florida

> DOWNLOAD Our Gambling Expansion One Pager

As talent and a strong workforce quality replace tax incentives as the deciding factor for job creation, quality of life becomes essential. Tomorrow’s talent wants to live in a place where quality of life is second to none.

This means protecting our state against very real dangers like Las Vegas-style casino gambling. Floridians should be cautious of unsubstantiated job growth and economic development offered by mega casinos. Florida cannot afford to bet our economic future on the expansion of gambling or the creation of these destination megacasinos. Las Vegas-style casinos don’t compliment positive, long-term economic development. Instead, they weaken our brand and burden our cities with debt and poverty and wipe out existing forms of commerce.

The Florida Chamber will continue to push for the expansion of high-wage jobs and protect our state’s brand. This means continuing to oppose the expansion of Las Vegasstyle mega casinos. There are countless examples of states that have been lulled into a false sense of economic safety by mega casinos, only to discover their reputation has waned, their high-skilled workers have left or their businesses can no longer afford to do business in their state. Florida continues to top lists as the nation’s premier place to visit, live, work, learn and play. We must continue to focus our attention on growing private sector jobs and keeping an attractive business-friendly economy.

At the Florida Chamber, we will continue to stay strong against continued efforts from around the world, which seek to devour Florida’s economy and family-friendly reputation by expanding Las Vegas-style casino gambling in Florida. By supporting innovation and families over special interest agendas, and working toward goals that help secure Florida’s future, Florida will become more than a “reward for a life well lived somewhere else” and will instead be the number one choice for talent.

Help us protect Florida’s reputation as the best place to visit, live and work by contacting us today and sharing in our fight for a robust free-enterprise system.

Florida Chamber Poll Finds Floridians Continue to Support Seminole Compact and Benefits to Florida

An Overwhelming Percentage of Floridians Continue to View the Sunshine State as a “Family-Friendly” Destination

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (January 7, 2016) – As lawmakers begin making their way to Tallahassee to start the 2016 Legislative Session, a new statewide poll commissioned by the Florida Chamber of Commerce reveals that among those who have heard about it, the Seminole Compact proposed by Governor Rick Scott is overwhelmingly popular.

“Floridians are nearly unanimous in agreeing that our state is a family-friendly tourist destination, and support a continued partnership with the Seminole Tribe of Florida,” said Mark Wilson, President of the Florida Chamber. “The Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Compact presents Florida with the most reasonable path toward controlled gaming operations that also provide significant economic stability to Florida.”

The poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, also found that Florida voters respond favorably to the newly proposed Compact. Further, after hearing the details of the proposal, three-fourths of voters in Florida believe the legislature should approve of the new 20-year Compact. This clearly indicates that as voters become more educated as to what is included in this new Compact, public support should increase.

The Compact will result in $3 billion in revenue to Florida over seven years, which is three times the guarantee of the prior Compact.  Additionally, the Compact will not only save 3,500 jobs, but will also generate 15,000 new jobs.

“Our polling continues to find that Floridians are satisfied with the agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida and believe the Compact will continue to benefit the State of Florida,” said pollster Neil Newhouse, who conducted the poll on behalf of the Florida Chamber.  “Once voters hear about this new Compact, it wins broad support across party lines and media markets across the state.”

In December 2015, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced a new Compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which is pending approval by the Florida Legislature. The poll asked respondents how they feel about the Compact and whether they believe it is in the state’s interest to approve it.

The poll found:

  • Among voters who have an opinion, by a margin of nearly three-to-one, Floridians believe the Compact has been good for the state.
  • When asked if the agreement between the state and the Tribe has been mostly good for the state, mostly bad for the state or somewhere in-between, fully 30% of Floridians say it’s been mostly good, 11% say it’s been mostly bad, and 54% say it’s “somewhere in between.”
  • By a wide 38%-11% margin, Florida voters believe the Seminole Tribe kept their end of the agreement with the state to provide a minimum of $1 billion over five years in revenue.
  • Fully 95% of Florida voters say that they consider the state’s entertainment options to be “family-friendly.”
  • When asked whether the opportunities for gambling in the state should be expanded, reduced or kept at about the same level, the number of Florida voters who opt for keeping them at about the same level outnumber those who want an increase or a decrease by about two-to-one. (Keep them the same – 53%, expand – 27%, reduce – 19%).

The poll was conducted December 28-30, 2015 and has margin of error of +/- 3.7% in 95 out of 100 cases.

Please click here to see addendum for question wording and responses, and click here for crosstab information.

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Keep Florida Summers Alive- Don’t Bet on Gambling

Local businesses open and filled with customers, children and families enjoying white sand beaches, full hotel rooms- that’s a good summer vacation in Destin. In fact, for many of Florida’s coastal towns that rely on visitors and tourism, that’s a good year. According to Visit Florida, more than 97 million visitors came to our state last year. For Florida, that number signifies jobs, growth and competitiveness, and comes from the multi-faceted efforts of local communities and chambers of commerce, and organizations like the Florida Chamber, Enterprise Florida and VISIT FLORIDA.

But our state hasn’t just garnered attention from visitors around the world- it has also earned a bulls-eye from mega Las Vegas-style casinos seeking to expand into our state.

In Destin, we want to keep Florida summers alive. That’s why we join the Florida Chamber in opposing Las Vegas- style casinos.

Las Vegas-style mega casinos promised once thriving coastal communities a boost to their economies and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. But facts are, as we know, stubborn things. A look at the blighted economy of Atlantic City provides all the insight we need as to why expanding Las Vegas-style casinos in Florida is a bad bet- thousands of jobs lost, millions lost in revenue, countless casinos closing. And in the wake of this downfall? A coastal town that once treasured their summers.

On November 28, 2011, our board of directors passed a resolution opposing the expansion of gambling in Florida.  We stand by that position today.  In November 2013, I was proud to stand before Senate President Don Gaetz and his committee on gaming to express our chamber’s concerns about and opposition to the expansion of gambling in our great state.

We cannot let Florida go the way of Atlantic City. We hope you will join us and the Florida Chamber in opposing the expansion of Las Vegas-style gambling.

 

Written by Shane A. Moody, CCE, FCCP, President & CEO, Destin Area Chamber of Commerce

Leading Capitol Reporters Gary Fineout and Tia Mitchell Provide Session Update Water, Special Session, Budget, Healthcare and Gambling on The Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line

Tia Mitchell, State House Bureau Chief with The Florida Times Union, and Gary Fineout, Capitol Press Corp Reporter with the Associated Press, join the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line to give their perspective on Florida’s 2015 Legislative Session. From healthcare issues to the possibility of a special session, Mitchell and Fineout discuss the issues that matter.

 

The Midway Point Assessment:

Gary:

“We haven’t really done very much. There’s a big divide in a lot of places, particularly in the healthcare arena and on the budget. Frankly, as anyone’s whose watched this process knows, the budget is sort of the grease that gets the gears to turn. And as long as there is a big sort of, conundrum, with the budget, it kind of affects the progress of the session. Essentially we are here at the midway point and they’ve only passed, really both sides, have only passed one substantial bill… overall, there’s a lot that has not yet been done.”

On Florida’s Budget:

Tia:

“If you believe what they say, you have to couch that, because again, this is a little bit of posturing, but I do kind of believe what they say, mainly because the House has said for three years straight that they do not want to use federal dollars to expand Medicaid. So you can believe that they really don’t want to do it and that they are dug into that and so far, there has been no compelling reason from the Senate to make them change their mind. But what’s different this year is the Senate says it’s really dug in. Before, the Senate would say ‘hey, we want to expand Medicaid, we did it on our side, they wouldn’t do it on the other side’ and just shrugged it off. This year the Senate is saying ‘no, we think it needs to be done, it’s our highest priority.’ And that’s really different this year.”

On the Possibility of a Special Session:

Gary:

“I see someone is going to have a fairly major retreat, in order for things to be worked out. it’s not that that’s not possible between now and the end of the session but it just doesn’t seem that’s where we’re going. The situation is basically, when you have a top person in the House, which is the budget chairman Richard Corcoran, when you have him get up on the floor and give a passionate speech defending their positions saying that one chamber cannot dictate to anther chamber, that kind of affects the pace and where things will go into the future.”

On Water and Amendment 1:

Tia:

“I think the water debate; the policy is progressing pretty well- they are working on implementing Amendment 1. I see two things happening. I think the environmentalists that pushed Amendment 1 are going to not be happy at the end of the day, because they want much more money spent on purchasing conservation land and the Amendment 1 dollars are going to be spread out for various water issues, various water projects, that don’t all fit under what the Amendment 1 supporters really wanted. The actual projects are going to be a part of the budget debate,  and so we don’t know yet exactly what they are going to use Amendment 1 dollars, the specific projects, but I think there’s going to be a lot more variety than perhaps what the conservation groups would like.

On Healthcare:

Gary:

“I think we can all agree. I think the House as already expressed the thought that they want to do something about access to care. It would not surprise me if the House, as a result of all of this, pushes ahead with several of those issues, especially the scope of practice and nurse practitioners bill. They might want to try to package them all as ‘this is our answer to how to deal with healthcare. And we don’t think that we need to do what you’ve offered in terms of the Medicaid alternative expansion plan that the Senate has crafted, instead we think you should do these other things to improve access.’ And we’ve heard a little bit about that, we’ve heard about the graduate medical education and increasing the number of doctors and things of that nature, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that becomes a part of the mix when all of this is said and done. And as you know, again, Richard Corcoran, the budget chief for the House, has made it abundantly clear that we need to quote ‘challenge the status quo.’ So I can see all of that becoming part of that dynamic and eh dialogue between now and the end of session.”

On Gambling:

Gary:

“I think at this point in time, the main outcome that I could foresee possibly, and I still don’t know if this is guaranteed, is something that just simply allows the status quo to continue as is. I think the Senate has showed that it is potentially interested in that dynamic. In other words passing something that merely says the existing compact kind of stays in place a little while longer.  Is it a year, is it two years, I don’t know the answer to that . But I think you’ve seen the Senate warming up to that. So what does that mean for the House bill? I mean, the House bill still hasn’t passed one committee yet…So I think at this point in time it is kind of hard to imagine that we would have a major gambling bill get passed this year, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think that something still can’t happen between now and May 1.”

 

Tia:

“I just think that the House’s gambling bill, people just thought it was dead on arrival because there’s just so much in it so there’s so much for people to hate. You’ve got the greyhound industry, doesn’t like decoupling- that’s in the bill. You have Disney and the Restaurant and Lodging Association, don’t want destination resorts- that’s in the bill. You have the Seminole Indians, don’t want the compact to go away- that’s in the bill. So there’s so much opposition to that House proposal because it’s so heavy, it’s just kind of sinking under its own weight.”

 

Florida Chamber’s Mark Wilson Testifies Against Expansion of Gambling

Urges Lawmakers to Stay Focused on High-Wage, High-Skill Jobs

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (March 26, 2015) – Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson today delivered the below remarks opposing the expansion of Las Vegas-style casino gambling to the House Regulatory Affairs Committee during a workshop on gambling legislation.

“Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, thank you for your time this morning, and for listening to all sides. Leader Young, thank you for putting this discussion in play. I’m Mark Wilson, President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

“At the Florida Chamber, our focus is to make Florida more competitive in the short term, and to help secure Florida’s future over the long term.

“For more than 20 years, the Florida Chamber has opposed the expansion of Las Vegas-style gambling. Florida already has limited gambling; residents and visitors can already gamble. We’re not arguing to do away with all gambling in Florida, we’re here to oppose the EXPANSION of Las Vegas-style gambling.

“We believe Florida should direct its focus on creating high-wage, high-skill jobs – more engineers…more manufacturers…not more blackjack dealers.

“When it comes to Florida’s economy, everyone knows the news is good.

“The debate over the expansion of gambling sometimes takes focus away from important competitiveness issues.

“You have already eliminated or improved nearly 3,000 regulations. You’ve lowered taxes nearly 40 times, and you are working on more. Your education reforms are working. And you’ve passed comprehensive water policy.

“Florida is growing by over 800 new residents each day. In fact, we estimate we’ll add 280,000 new residents and 250,000 new jobs this year.

“So here’s the bottom line…Florida doesn’t need Las Vegas-style casinos. The truth is, the big foreign and out-of-state casinos need Florida.

“Florida’s brand is known around the world. We’re known as a family-friendly place to visit, and now we’re known for our jobs and economic opportunity.

“Now is not the time to change course.

“There have been plenty of studies on gambling – with a CENTRAL study coming from the gambling industry. It says that gambling won’t work in locations with an already established tourism market like Florida.

“When casinos were introduced to Atlantic City, 40 percent of restaurants and approximately 30 percent of retail shut down.  Nevada — with all of its casinos – has led the nation in unemployment, foreclosures, violent crime, and personal bankruptcy

“When out-of-state and foreign casino operators brought their expansion proposals to Florida a few years ago, the Florida Chamber was the first statewide organization to come out against their efforts.

“Since then, many others have joined the Florida Chamber in opposing the expansion of gambling, including:

  • The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association,
  • The Florida Retail Federation,
  • The Florida Sheriff’s Association,
  • Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi,
  • Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater,
  • Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, and
  • Newspaper editorial boards across Florida…

“As I said, Florida is on the right track. We don’t need the Las Vegas-style casinos industry, they need Florida.

“The best way to help secure Florida’s future is to stay the course, and don’t bet Florida’s future on a gimmick that has never worked in an already established market like Florida.

“Members, I’ve been advocating for job creation and economic development for decades.

“I’ve not ever seen a single economic development plan that suggests gambling is a good way to go.

“I would encourage you to protect Florida from the expansion of Las Vegas-style gambling.

“Again, thank you for helping us secure Florida’s future.”

###

Expansion of Casino Gambling Draws Dire Warnings, Praise

By Scott Powers, Orlando Sentinel

If Florida increases its bet on gambling, the wager will ride on whether new casinos could become economic engines as in Baltimore, or economic vacuums as in Atlantic City.

That was the central argument in a debate over gambling during a Florida Forward forum sponsored in downtown Orlando on Tuesday by the Orlando Sentinel.

Atlantic City’s economic demise was caused by decades of Democrat rule and astronomical taxes. The casinos just delayed it a few decades.

Opponents, notably No Casinos Inc. President John Sowinski, argued that many new casinos have sucked vitality out of communities by drawing dollars away from existing restaurants, hotels and attractions. And he held up Atlantic City’s economic demise, with recent widespread casino failures, as a frightening cautionary tale.

Supporters, notably Geoff Freeman, president of the American Gaming Association, argued that many new casinos that are more wisely planned and regulated, as in Baltimore and Ohio, have been boons to their cities’ economies and could serve as role models for any Florida expansion.

The casino issue is reemerging because Florida’s five-year compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida expires this summer. It allows the tribe lucrative, exclusive rights for its seven tribal-land casinos, in exchange for more than $130 million in annual fees.

A renegotiated contract could open up what other casino operators want — expansion of competition.

Two companies, Las Vegas Sands Corp. and the Genting Group of Malaysia, have publicly pushed for Florida to allow more casinos in South Florida.

“Here’s the bottom line,” said opponent Mark Wilson, president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, “Florida doesn’t need the casino industry. The casino industry … needs Florida.”

There also are eight pari-mutuel betting tracks, all in South Florida, that now operate limited-game casinos and seek more.

“We just want to be on a level playing field,” said Isadore Havernick, vice president of the Magic City Casino in Miami.