Florida’s Legislative Session by the Numbers:
- 1,828 Bills and PCBs filed; over 350 bills passed both chambers
- Florida Chamber of Commerce testified 181 times on legislation impacting job creators
- Florida Chamber is analyzing more than 5,700 votes cast by lawmakers and will soon release its annual Legislative Report Card
- $116 billion budget passed- the largest in state history
TALLAHASSEE, FL (May 5, 2023) — The 2023 Florida Legislative Session saw passage of several Florida Chamber top priorities and the largest budget in Florida’s history as Florida continues to surpass revenue expectations and grows by more than 1,000 new residents a day. While the backdrop of national election politics dominated many of the media headlines, the legislature took significant strides in continuing Florida’s economic momentum by passing several pro-jobs bills and investments.
Florida’s economic growth and competitiveness is further enhanced through the passage of much needed lawsuit abuse reform, a dramatic expansion of school choice options, a workforce housing plan that incentivizes the private market, record infrastructure investments and tax cuts, and continued focus on building the world’s best workforce.
“The Florida Chamber has been fighting to make Florida more competitive for years, so it’s no surprise Florida is number one in the nation in income migration with $4.48 million coming in every hour and the national model for economic growth and competitiveness,” said Mark Wilson, President & CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The Florida Chamber’s priorities passed this legislative session will continue this momentum for Florida — driving our economy, growing private-sector jobs, and creating additional economic opportunities for all Floridians and local businesses.”
The first substantive bill that passed this session has been a top priority of the Florida Chamber for well over a decade as we have sought to improve Florida’s bottom-five legal climate to top 12 by 2030. HB 837 contained seven significant components that each taken on their own would have been a huge win for local businesses and consumers. The much-needed Florida Chamber-backed lawsuit abuse reform would not have been possible without the leadership of House Speaker Paul Renner, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, and Governor Ron DeSantis. This will begin to reverse the damage done by personal injury billboard trial lawyers by redirecting the billions of dollars spent annually on frivolous litigation, chipping away at the more than $5,000 per household lawsuit abuse tax in the form of higher costing good and services.
“The Florida Chamber is in year-round pursuit to unify business leaders from every district to the state capitol and to earn their support of the Florida Business Agenda,” said Florida Chamber Board of Directors Volunteer Chairman Charles Bailes III, Chairman and CEO of ABC Fine Wine & Spirits. “We are successful during any election cycle when the business community is united and makes the right things happen to ensure Florida is the most competitive state in the country to run a business, raise a family, and enjoy our quality of life.”
Following the December special session to tackle overdue property insurance reform, the legislature continued to prioritize further bills that would reduce the cost of living and increase affordability for Florida consumers and local businesses that have been challenged with near record inflation over the last year. A $2.7 billion tax relief package provides several sales tax holidays and exemptions on goods and services such as school supplies, disaster preparedness, gas stoves, baby products and diapers that will benefit nearly every Florida family. The annual tax package also includes tax relief for local businesses, such as a reduction in the Florida-only business rent tax from 5.5 percent to 4.5 percent beginning this December.
Affordable housing also took center stage this session. Florida’s workforce housing crisis has disrupted its economic growth potential. Rising housing costs have not only hurt Florida families, but have been a significant issue stifling Florida’s competitiveness, affordability, and quality of life. Florida is creating 1 in every 10 U.S. jobs, so it is essential to have affordable workforce housing to ensure Florida’s workforce can ‘live local’ in the communities where they work. The passage of this legislation will ensure Floridians can live closer to their jobs, schools, and healthcare and still remain within their household budgets. This game-changing legislation will also incentivize developers and communities to invest in affordable workforce housing and develop areas that have been economically struggling, while ensuring anti-market policies like government rent control are not allowed to fester at the local level.
Below are a few highlights of the Florida Chamber-championed legislative priorities that passed this session:
- Ending Florida’s “Judicial Hellhole” Standing and Improving Florida’s Bottom-Five Lawsuit Abuse Climate: Reduces our lawsuit abuse tax of more than $5,000 that each Florida family pays by aligning several elements of Florida’s civil justice system to most other states, such as reducing the statute of limitations, increasing transparency to juries, and appropriately allocating fault in negligence claims. For more information on this generational legal reform package, click here
- Universal School Choice: Expands school choice so a student’s zip code is not the primary factor determining a student’s opportunity for earned success. The passage of universal school choice ensures every family can choose the best learning environment for their children, which should boost educational outcomes and better position Florida’s current learners to become earners in the 21st century global economy.
- Affordable Workforce Housing: The “live local” act increases funding for state and local affordable housing programs, relaxes burdensome regulations, and incentivizes the private market to increase the availability and affordability of housing so each Floridian can live in the community in which they work. Greater access to affordable housing will help employers attract and retain a competitive workforce.
- Workforce Development: Continues to build Florida’s talent pipeline by aligning education systems with industry to increase access to work-based learning opportunities such as apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships, career and technical education, and on the job training. The Florida Chamber will be diving deeper into what this means for Florida’s business community at the Florida Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit on June 27.
- Innovation in Transportation: Builds on the work of the Florida Chamber’s Autonomous Florida initiative to become the mobility innovation capital of the world by creating a system to grade Florida’s highways for autonomous vehicle use and allows for collaboration, research, testing and market delivery of mobility solutions at the Implementing Solutions from Transportation Research and Evaluating Emerging Technologies (I-Street) lab at the University of Florida.
- Rural Economic Development: Improves access to state and federal financial assistance and economic development programs to boost economic activity in rural communities, which will help meet the 2030 Blueprint goal of doubling the rural share of state gross domestic product.
- Fiscal Cliff Reform: Encourages a pathway to prosperity by reducing “fiscal cliffs” and phasing in costs for parents that qualify for subsidized health insurance under Kidcare, so they are not choosing between a small increase in their paycheck or health insurance for their child. The Florida Chamber will discuss this further at the Florida Prosperity & Economic Opportunity Solution Summit on May 25.
- Paycheck Protection: Brings transparency and accountability around government sector union dues by prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars to collect dues and empowers the Public Employees Relations Commission to certify and decertify unions.
“The Florida Chamber team, and our key partners, fought on the front lines this session, pushing legislation forward that will continue to position Florida as a global competitor,” said Florida Chamber Executive Vice President of Governmental and Political Relations Frank Walker. “We will immediately begin preparation of our 2024 legislative agenda starting with any unfinished business and continue to lead the fight for free enterprise.”
While numerous business-friendly measures passed, several threats to local businesses emerged during session. The Florida Chamber worked endlessly to defeat or mitigate efforts to drive additional litigation, create new regulations, or increase costs on Florida businesses. One example was legislation that would mandate E-verify on all employers, provide for citizen enforcement, and allow for criminal penalties and the loss of a business license were mitigated through the work of a united business community. The immigration bill that ultimately passed exempts small businesses of 25 employees or less, allows companies to cure a violation before penalties are assessed, and removes criminal penalties and citizen enforcement.
The Florida Chamber team is analyzing thousands of votes and will soon release its annual Legislative Report Card, showcasing grades earned by all 159 legislators in the Florida House and Senate based on their votes during the 2023 Legislative Session. The Florida Chamber 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. The Report Card also lets Florida families, small businesses, taxpayers, and voters know who voted in favor of private-sector job creation and a stronger economy.
To view the Florida Chamber’s full legislative review of what passed, what was defeated, and what remains unfinished business for next year, visit: https://conta.cc/3NEJi8I