Florida Chamber Honors Pro-Business Legislators with Distinguished Advocate Awards

CONTACT: Edie Ousley, 850-521-1231 or 850-251-6261


And Releases Annual ‘How They Voted’
On the Florida Chamber’s Business Agenda

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (July 13 , 2015) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce today announces that 23 members of the Florida Legislature earned a Distinguished Advocate award for championing pro-jobs, pro-business legislation outlined in the Florida Business Agenda.
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.

“Early during the 2015 legislative process, the Florida Chamber encouraged lawmakers to focus on measures that would put Florida’s long-term future ahead of short term politics,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The Florida Chamber is pleased to present the Distinguished Advocate awards to lawmakers who have the courage to put free enterprise principles for job creation above special interests.”

The 23 members of the Florida Legislature honored with a Florida Chamber Distinguished Advocate award include:

Florida Senate
  • Senator Jeff Brandes (R- St. Petersburg)
    Filed legislation to help fix Florida’s broken legal climate.
  •  Senator Nancy Detert (R- Venice)
    Advocated to make Florida more competitive by continuing to fight to keep high-wage film jobs in Florida.
  • Senator Alan Hays (R- Umatilla)
    Helped Florida’s legislature implement Amendment 1 in a fiscally responsible manner.
  • Senator Dorothy Hukill (R- Port Orange)
    Empowered Florida’s businesses by championing efforts like permanently eliminating the tax on manufacturing equipment and machinery.
  •  Senator John Legg (R- Lutz)
    Fought for Florida’s students by successfully championing a law, which will require fewer and better tests without compromising Florida’s rigorous accountability standards.
  •  Senator Wilton Simpson (R- Trilby)
    Successfully passed legislation that helps Florida accommodate smart growth by streamlining sector and smart management plans, and clarifying freight logistics zones.


Florida House of Representatives
  • Representative Ben Albritton (R- Bartow)
    Helped Florida’s legislature implement Amendment 1 in a fiscally responsible manner.
  • Representative Matt Caldwell (R- Lehigh Acres)
    Continued to advocate for sustainable, long-term water solutions for Florida.
  • Representative Richard Corcoran (R- Lutz)
    Held strong against opposition from special interest groups and sent a message that protecting and empowering our state’s teachers is a top priority for Florida by securing full funding for the Educator Liability Program in the FY 2015-2016 budget.
  • House Speaker Steve Crisafulli (R- Merritt Island)
    Led the charge as Speaker of the House on issues including sustainable water resources and marketing Florida efforts. His support helped to garner $10 million in funding to market Florida’s business climate in other states.
  • Representative Manny Diaz, Jr. (R- Hialeah)
    Tirelessly advocated for numerous Florida Chamber education and talent priorities like expanding school choice options and supporting rigorous accountability standards.
  • Representative Katie Edwards (D- Sunrise)
    Passed legislation that protects private property rights.
  • Representative Erik Fresen (R- Miami) 
    Helped Florida’s students by advocating for school choice and high standards as a strong supporter of the Education Accountability bill.
  • Representative Matt Gaetz (R- Shalimar) 
    Advanced legislation that provided $400 million in targeted tax cuts to Florida small businesses and families.
  • Representative Mike Hill (R- Pensacola) 
    Filed legislation to fight measures that would further harm Florida’s unfair legal climate.
  • Representative Larry Metz (R- Groveland)
    A former Florida Chamber Most Valuable Legislator, Rep. Metz continued to support legal reform efforts in Florida.
  • Representative Mike Miller (R- Winter Park) 
    Advocated to make Florida more competitive by continuing to fight to keep high-wage film jobs in Florida.
  • Representative Ed Narain (D- Tampa) 
    Encouraged investments in Florida’s R&D Tax Credit Program, which would motivate more companies to look to Florida for growth.
  • Representative Marlene O’Toole (R- The Villages)
    Remained a champion for Florida’s students by supporting fewer and better tests without compromising Florida’s rigorous accountability standards.
  • Representative Kathleen Passidomo (R- Naples)
    Protected Florida businesses by taking up and passing legal reform bills that would improve Florida’s bottom-10 legal climate.
  • Representative Cary Pigman (R- Sebring) 
    Remained a champion of scope of practice bills that would allow nurse practitioners to practice to their full ability.
  • Representative Lake Ray (R- Jacksonville)
    Successfully passed legislation that helps clarify freight logistics zones.
  • Representative Ross Spano (R- Riverview)
    Fought to empower and protect Florida’s teachers by continuing to push for the educator liability insurance program.


Florida Chamber’s ‘How They Voted’ – Where Legislators Stood on Pro-Jobs Issues:

The Florida Chamber also released its annual publication How They Voted – which identifies where legislators stood on the Florida Chamber’s 2015 business agenda. How The Voted provides the grades for all 160 legislators so businesses and families can see who voted for or against a competitive Florida, as well as what Florida Business Agenda issues did or didn’t pass during the 2015 legislative sessions.

Despite a regular and special legislative session at times filled with missed opportunities and philosophical differences, lawmakers introduced 1,795 bills and passed 243 bills – including 20 Florida Chamber of Commerce-backed measures. All 160 legislators earned grades on the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Report Card based on their actual pro-jobs, pro-business votes cast during the 2015 sessions.

Each year, the Florida Chamber usually honors one legislator as a Most Valuable legislator, for their courage to champion business issues. Although in the 2015 regular and special sessions no comparable champion emerged, we honor the last 10 years of steadfast leaders who stood firm against special interest agendas and fought for Florida’s business community on the issues that will help secure Florida’s future. Those include:

  • House Speaker Will Weatherford (2014)
  • Representative Larry Metz (2013) – also a 2015 Distinguished Advocate recipient
  • House Speaker Dean Cannon (2012)
  • Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff (2011)
  • Senator John Thrasher (2010)
  • Senator Garrett Richter (2009)
  • Representative Dennis Ross (2008)
  • Representative Stan Mayfield (2007)
  • Representative Don Brown (2006)
  • House Speaker Allan Bense (2005)

Click here to review the 23 Distinguished Advocate honorees, click here to view How They Voted, and click here to review the Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card.



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 Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

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