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.

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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 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 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.

Florida Chamber of Commerce Names Representative Bob Rommel 2019 Most Valuable Legislator

Also Announces 18 Distinguished Advocate Award Recipients

ORLANDO, Fla. (June 20, 2019) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce today awarded Representative Bob Rommel with the 2019 Most Valuable Legislator (MVL) award for his leadership in tackling Florida’s ‘Judicial Hellhole’ label. The MVL presentation was made during the Florida Chamber’s Board of Directors meeting in Orlando.

The Florida Chamber’s MVL award is the business community’s premier legislative award honoring a single lawmaker for their outstanding legislative leadership and willingness to take a stand for free enterprise.

“Representative Rommel championed and led ending Florida’s lawsuit abuse problem that is costing Florida’s families over $4,000 each year, and has earned Florida an international reputation as a ‘Judicial Hellhole,’” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, in a congratulatory video.

Upon news of the award, Representative Rommel said: “The Florida Chamber’s commitment to make sure Florida’s business community flourishes is unparalleled. I was very proud to work with them this year to advance and enact unprecedented business reform legislation that will unleash Florida entrepreneurs to grow, innovate, and create more jobs. I’m honored to receive this recognition from the Florida Chamber, and I look forward to our continued partnership.”

DISTINGUISHED ADVOCATE AWARD RECIPIENTS:
Additionally, the Florida Chamber Distinguished Advocate awards – recognizing lawmakers who fought tirelessly for the passage of pro-business legislation and advanced the Florida Chamber’s goals of securing Florida’s future through job creation and economic development – were announced.

“We’re pleased to recognize members of the Florida Legislature with the 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 18 members of the Florida Legislature honored with a 2019 Florida Chamber Distinguished Advocate award include:

HOW THEY VOTED

The Florida Chamber also released its annual publication How They Voted – which provides the grades for all 157 legislators so business leaders can see who voted for or against job creation and economic growth.

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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 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 Releases 2019 Legislative Report Card

98 Lawmakers Earn A’s and B’s; 59 Earn C’s, D’s, and F’s

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (May 21, 2019) – Ninety-eight members of the Florida Legislature earned A’s or B’s on the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Legislative Report Card, and helped lower the cost of living and cost of doing business on families and job creators, while also preparing for future growth and protecting Florida’s constitution, the state’s leading voice of business and largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and business association partners announced today.

Many lawmakers earned higher grades this legislative session with their renewed focus on important competitiveness issues like:

  • Property insurance, lawsuit abuse, regulatory and targeted tax reforms,
  • Innovations in healthcare, and high-quality workforce education and apprenticeship programs, and
  • Key smart growth issues like transportation, energy grid hardening, and autonomous and innovations.

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

KEY DATA POINTS:
After tabulating more than 4,000 votes cast during the 2019 Legislative Session, data shows:

  • 98 lawmakers earned an A or B; 59 lawmakers earned a C, D or F.
  • Average GPA for both legislative chambers was 79.37 percent.
  • Senate GPA was 84.59 percent, up from 74 percent in 2018.
  • House GPA was 77.59 percent, down slightly from 79 percent in 2018.

“We believe in transparency and accountability, and the Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card is a fantastic tool for families, small businesses, taxpayers and voters to know if their elected officials voted in support of lowering the cost of living and reducing the cost of doing business, while also preparing for Florida’s future,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

TRANSPARENT GRADING PROCESS:
The Florida Chamber’s legislative grading process is both transparent and accountable.

  • The Florida Business Agenda (FBA) was announced during a news conference prior to the 2019 Legislative Session which was attended by bicameral members of the legislature, and dozens of leaders from throughout Florida’s business community.
  • The Florida Business Agenda, outlined in Where We Stand, was hand delivered and mailed to each member of the Florida Legislature.
  • Florida Chamber leadership met with numerous newspaper editorial boards, and legislators and staff in advance of session.
  • Most importantly, prior to each vote graded on the report card, a “Your Vote Matters” letter outlining the pro-business position and the Florida Chamber’s intent to score the vote was transmitted to voting members of the legislature – in total, about 4,000 scored votes letters were transmitted in advance.

Stay Tuned:
The Florida Chamber will soon announce 2019 legislative awards, including Distinguished Advocates and the Florida Chamber’s premier legislative award, the Most Valuable Legislator award. Past winners can be found here.

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Phasing Out VISIT FLORIDA Could Diminish Florida’s Leading Workforce Skills Training Ground Worsening Small Business Owners Access for Employees with Employability Skills

Latest Florida Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index Survey Shows

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (April 26, 2019)— If lawmakers phase out Florida’s tourism marketing program VISIT FLORIDA, it could greatly diminish the employability skills training ground the tourism and hospitality industry provide, putting greater strain on small businesses to identify and hire employees with needed workforce skills, the Florida Chamber of Commerce said today.

“As the future of VISIT FLORIDA is being debated in the Legislature, job creators around Florida continue to tell us workforce quality remains their top concern,” said Dr. Jerry Parrish, Chief Economist for the Florida Chamber Foundation. “What many people in Florida don’t realize is that Florida’s hospitality industry is one of the largest trainers of employability skills in the world. Florida hospitality companies are training employees for all of Florida’s companies— from manufacturing to trade & logistics, to business services, and more.”

Workforce quality tops out as the number one concern among Florida’s small businesses in the Florida Chamber’s second quarter Small Business Index Survey – jumping up from second place in quarter one. Overall top concerns include:

  1. Workforce Quality – 32%
  2. Economic Uncertainty – 10%
  3. Access to Capital – 10%
  4. Lawsuit Abuse – 7%
  5. Healthcare Costs – 7%
  6. Government Regulations – 7% 

When asked about Florida’s economic future, small businesses are optimistic, with 49 percent of respondents expecting the economy to improve, up from 44 percent last quarter. However, 38 percent of businesses expect the economy to weaken over the next year. 

“Workforce Quality resumed the top spot as the number one concern of Florida’s small businesses, with economic uncertainty and access to capital tying for second,” said Glenda Hood, Chair of the Florida Chamber’s Small Business Council, and Founding Partner, Hood Partners LLC. “Small businesses are the foundation of Florida’s economy, and the Florida Chamber’s Small Business Council remains committed to advocating on their behalf.”

About the Survey: The Florida Chamber’s Small Business Index Survey was conducted electronically March 30 through April 19, 2019. Of the respondents, 31 percent employ less than five employees, while 48 percent employ five to 49 employees. Click here to view the full report.

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.

Moody’s: Florida Now Earns Highest Credit Rating

Originally Published in Florida Politics

Some good news for Florida’s credit ratings emerged Thursday, with upgrades across the board from Moody’s seemingly vindicating Gov. Rick Scott‘s approach to financial management.

Per a media release: Moody’s upgraded the state one notch from Aa1 to Aaa, with a stable outlook for the best rating possible, despite what is called an “aging population.”

“Florida’s general obligation debt upgrade to Aaa reflects a sustained trend of improvement in its economy and finances, low state debt and pension ratios, and reduced near-term liability risks via the state-run insurance companies. Florida’s economy is performing strongly in terms of job growth, and long-term growth prospects are favorable despite the challenges posed by an aging population base.”

Florida joins 14 other states with an Aaa rating. Scott has repeatedly asserted that under his watch, Florida shed $9 billion of debt ($5.5 billion in general debt, and $3.5 billion from the repayment of an unemployment compensation loan from 2009).

 

Click here to read the complete article in Florida Politics.

 

 

Florida Chamber Unveils 2018 Legislative Report Card

Highlights 15 Distinguished Advocates of the 2018 Legislative Session

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

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

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

Key Data Points:

After tabulating more than 2,900 votes cast during the 2018 legislative session, data shows:

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

 

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

 

Unfinished Business:

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

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

 

Transparent Grading Process:

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

  • The Florida Business Agenda (FBA) was announced prior to the 2018 session and was attended by bi-partisan and bicameral members of the legislature, and dozens of leaders from throughout Florida’s business community.
  • The Florida Business Agenda, outlined in Where We Stand, was hand delivered and mailed to each member of the Florida Legislature.
  • Florida Chamber leadership met with numerous newspaper editorial boards in advance of session.
  • Most importantly, prior to each vote graded on the report card, a “Your Vote Matters” letter outlining the pro-business position and the Florida Chamber’s intent to score the vote was transmitted to voting members of the legislature – in total, about 2,900 scored votes letters were transmitted in advance.

Distinguished Advocate Award Winners:

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

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

The 15 members of the Florida Legislature honored with a 2018 Florida Chamber Distinguished Advocate award include:

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

 

Moving Forward:

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

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 Reemployment Tax Rate to Remain at its Lowest in 2018 for Third Year in a Row

On December 14, Gov. Rick Scott announced that Florida businesses will continue to pay the lowest possible rate for reemployment taxes next year for the third year in a row. The minimum tax rate will remain at $7.00 per employee in 2018. As a result of Florida’s thriving economy, more than 60 percent of Florida’s employers will pay the minimum tax rate, which is the highest number of employers at the lowest reemployment tax rate since 2004. The $7.00 per employee minimum tax rate for 2018 is down from a high of $120.80 per employee in 2012. Since 2012, Florida businesses have had their reemployment tax reduced by more than 94 percent, resulting in a savings of more than $4.9 billion.

Gov. Scott said, “By keeping the reemployment tax low, we are putting more money back into the hands of job creators so they can invest in their businesses. This continued low rate is another example of the steps we are taking to make Florida number one in the nation for job growth and opportunities.”

Florida businesses pay the reemployment tax as a percentage of the first $7,000 in wages for each employee. Reemployment taxes, or taxes on payroll, fund Florida’s Reemployment Assistance Trust Fund. Florida’s strong economy and private-sector job growth has allowed the state to dramatically reduce the minimum reemployment tax rate. As a result, this year’s trust fund is robust and the reemployment tax rate will remain low for 2018.

Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Cissy Proctor said, “Businesses are confident in Florida’s economic climate and continue to create jobs for hardworking citizens. Our strong trust fund allows for a lower tax rate for a majority of businesses. This allows businesses to reinvest these savings. Florida remains the best state in the nation to live, work and do business.”

More information about the Reemployment Assistance tax rate can be found here.

Florida Chamber Foundation Focuses on Future of Florida At Annual Future of Florida Forum

Orlando, Fla. (Sept. 27, 2017) – The Florida Chamber Foundation this week is gathering business and industry leaders and elected officials from around the state at the 2017 Future of Florida Forum in Orlando to ask, is Florida ready for the future?

From conversations on economic prosperity and the future of workforce to discussions on Hurricane Irma recovery efforts and what Florida’s next steps are, this two-day event asks business leaders to lead conversations with state and local leaders to help secure Florida’s future.

The event began with Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis discussing Hurricane Irma recovery efforts around the state. His remarks focused on assignment of benefits abuse, which contributes to increasing insurance rates in Florida.

His call to action to businesses and legislators was clear- “doing nothing is not an option.”

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam also discussed the future of Florida’s agriculture industry and with it, the future of talent and workforce, and the need to attract new jobs to our state.

“All the bright and shiny industries that we want to come here- we need to have the talent to have those jobs,” said Commissioner Putnam.

 

Day one of the 2017 Future of Florida Forum continues with a special Women’s Hall of Fame presentation, where three inductees will be honored by members of the Florida Commission on the Status of Women and Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis. Media are invited to view the presentation and the entire 2017 Future of Florida Forum at www.FloridaChamber.com/ForumLive

 

Day 2 Speakers and Topics Include:

 Florida’s Cradle to Career Continuum Ι 7:30 – 9:30 a.m. 

  • Jobs 2030
    • Jerry Parrish, Ph.D., Chief Economist, Florida Chamber Foundation
  • Florida K-12 Education System: Moving in the Right Direction
    • Pam Stewart, Commissioner, Florida Department of Education
  • Launch My Career Florida: Connecting Talent to Opportunities
    • Mark Schneider, Vice President and Institute Fellow, American Institutes for Research
  • The Business Case for Early Learning
    • Brittany Birken, Ph.D., CEO, Florida Children’s Council
    • Dr. Katharine Stevens, Resident Scholar, Education Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute

 

PRESS CONFERENCE: Launch My Career Florida Ι 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. 

  • Jaimie Francis, Director of Programs and Operations, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
  • Cissy Proctor, Executive Director, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
  • Mark Schneider, Vice President and Institute Fellow, American Institutes for Research
  • Rebecca Schumacher, Executive Director, Florida School Counselor Association

 

Keeping Florida Open for Business Ι 10:00 – 11:15 a.m.

  • Representative Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills)
  • Representative Jay Fant (R-Jacksonville)
  • Representative Rene Plasencia (R-Titusville)

 

Planning For the Future: Economic Opportunity, Health and More Ι 10:00 – 11:15 a.m.

  • Julie Cummings, Co-Chair, Florida Women’s Funding Alliance
  • Paula Liang, Co-Chair, Florida Women’s Funding Alliance An Affinity Group of the Florida Philanthropic Network
  • Dotti Groover-Skipper, Anti-Trafficking Director, The Salvation Army Florida Divisional Headquarters

 

Meeting Florida’s Infrastructure Needs Ι 10:00 – 11:15 a.m.

  • Moderator: Alice Ancona, Director of International Trade, Florida Chamber of Commerce
  • Jim Avitabile, Strategic Initiatives Market Leader, RS&H, Inc.
  • Loreen Bobo, P.E., I-4 Ultimate Construction Program Manager, Florida Department of Transportation, D5
  • Christopher Emmanuel, Policy Director, Florida Chamber of Commerce
  • Tim Giuliani, President & CEO, Orlando Economic Partnership
  • Gary Huttmann, Deputy Executive Director, MetroPlan Orlando
  • John Kaliski, Principal, Cambridge Systematics, Inc
  • Rob Palmer, Planning and Mobility Leader, RS&H, Inc.

 

Future of Florida Forum General Session Lunch and Florida Chamber of Commerce Board of Governors Annual Meeting Ι 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

  •  Syd Kitson, Chairman and CEO, Kitson & Partners; Chair, Florida Chamber of Commerce

 

The Future of Florida’s Economic Development

  • Moderator: Marshall Criser, III, Chancellor, State University System of Florida; Florida Chamber Past Chair
  • Pete Antonacci, President and CEO, Enterprise Florida
  • Ken Lawson, President and CEO, VISIT FLORIDA
  • Cissy Proctor, Executive Director, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

 

A Live Skype Conversation with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

 

Hurricane Irma Recovery Efforts

  • Kenny Montilla, Mobilization Program Director, Airbnb
  • Harry Sideris, State President, Florida, Duke Energy
  • Eric Silagy, President & CEO, Florida Power & Light Co.
  • Stephanie Smith, Manager, Florida Public Policy, Uber
  • Glenn Wiltshire, Deputy Port Director, Port Everglades

 

Future of Florida Forum Leadership Dinner Ι 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

  •  Marian Johnson, Senior Vice President, Political Operations, Florida Chamber of Commerce

 

A Conversation with Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission Members

  • Carlos Beruff, Chair, Florida Constitution Revision Commission
  • Belinda Keiser, Vice Chancellor, Keiser University
  • Bill Schifino, President, Florida Bar
  • Carolyn Timmann, Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller, Martin County

Register Today for the 2017 Future of Florida Forum

 

Register     Agenda     Hotel

 

By 2030, nearly 26 million Floridians will call Florida home. Is Florida ready to remain globally competitive, create high-wage jobs and economic opportunity, and fuel vibrant and sustainable communities? The Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2017 Future of Florida Forum will bring together Florida’s business leaders, industry experts and elected officials to discuss the opportunities and challenges impacting Florida’s future between now and 2030.

Topics such as workforce, education, prosperity, global competitiveness, innovation, economic development and more will be examined – are you ready to help lead the conversation?

And for the first time, the Florida Chamber Foundation is proud to work alongside the Florida Commission on the Status of Women to host the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in conjunction with the Future of Florida Forum, in order to honor women who have made a significant contribution to Florida.