Florida Chamber of Commerce Summarizes Legislative Session
By: Edie Ousley
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.
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.
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.
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.