Florida Legislature Takes Steps to Make Florida More Competitive

By: Edie Ousley

Lowers Cost of Living, Reduces Cost of Doing Business, Prepares for Future Growth and Protects Florida’s Constitution

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (May 4, 2019) – Six months after the launch of Florida’s next strategic plan, commonly known as the Florida 2030 blueprint, Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature took steps during the 2019 Legislative Session to make Florida more competitive. Lawmakers passed 20 Florida Chamber-backed bills that will help lower the cost of living on families, reduce the cost of doing business on job creators and prepare for Florida’s future growth.

“This session lawmakers took steps in the right direction to make Florida more competitive, but there’s still much more work for Florida to reach its potential,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

To secure Florida’s future, during the 60-day session, lawmakers filed 1,675 bills, and passed 174 bills. Chief among Florida Chamber-backed legislation that passed this session are bills that:

  • Strengthen education policy to improve Florida’s talent pipeline, and further school choice options,
  • Prepare for Florida’s future growth with important infrastructure policy,
  • Protect Floridians from the lawsuit abuses of Assignment of Benefits property insurance fraud,
  • Invest in Florida’s economic development and tourism marketing programs,
  • Support innovations in autonomous vehicles, small cell technology and telehealth,
  • Harden Florida’s electrical grid for future hurricanes and disasters, and
  • Protect Florida’s constitution from out-of-state and special interests buying their way onto Florida’s ballot.

Meanwhile, not all lawmakers were trying to make Florida more competitive. Some in the legislature tried to create a patchwork of regulations increasing costs on businesses, families and consumers. Additionally, there were a host of attempted mandates on job creator’s employment, including misguided wage and employment condition mandates.

Big picture, the Florida Legislature moved Florida forward in three important areas:

Lowering the Cost of Living:

  • Assignment of Benefits (AOB) Reform: At the urging of the Florida Chamber’s Consumer Protection Coalition, lawmakers partially closed the Assignment of Benefits (AOB) loophole. This will help curb rampant litigation over homeowner property insurance claims, and help stop bad actors from abusing the system for their own gain. However, work remains to close auto glass AOB abuses. The Florida Chamber considers this unfinished business, and looks forward to passing reforms next session.
  • Innovations in Healthcare: Lawmakers championed innovations in healthcare by passing a telehealth bill that provides safe, high-quality and affordable medical care options, and a bill creating a health insurance savings program that allows health insurers to create voluntary shared savings programs.

Reducing Florida’s Cost of Doing Business:

  • Lawsuit Abuse Reform: To help improve Florida’s bottom five legal climate, lawmakers passed two lawsuit abuse reform bills this session. A dangerous instrumentality exemption protecting certain renters of heavy equipment from frivolous lawsuits passed, and AOB lawsuit abuse reform passed for property insurance.
  • Targeted Tax Reform: Lawmakers continued chipping away at the Florida-only Business Rent Tax, saving job creators $64.5 million annually.
  • Regulatory Reform: Prevented a patchwork of regulations that would have increased costs on businesses, families and consumers. Additionally, lawmakers passed a Florida Chamber-backed bill requiring local government to pay attorney’s fees for improper local actions.

Preparing for Future Growth:

  • Enterprise Florida, Inc., VISIT FLORIDA and Space Florida: To help keep Florida’s momentum going, lawmakers invested in Enterprise Florida, Inc., and VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s economic development and tourism marketing programs, and also invested in Space Florida.
  • Infrastructure and Growth: With 4.5 million more people expected to call Florida home by 2030, the legislature took major strides to prepare for Florida’s future growth by passing legislation (SB 7068) that mirrors the Florida Chamber’s Infrastructure Coalition recommendations.
  • Energy Grid Hardening: Preparing for future hurricanes and natural disasters with storm protection plans to harden Florida’s electrical grid.
  • Autonomous and Communications Innovation: The Florida Chamber’s Autonomous Florida program helped secure victories modernizing the autonomous vehicle regulatory structure to help make Florida the most autonomous-friendly state in the union. Additionally, lawmakers reduced communications services barriers for deploying small cell devices to reliably boost 5G cellular coverage using a minimal amount of space.
  • Florida’s Future Workforce: This Florida Chamber-backed legislation will help ensure students have access to high quality workforce education and apprenticeship programs, and increases college degree attainment.

Protecting Florida’s Constitution:

Florida’s constitution has been under attack by out-of-state and special interests buying their way onto Florida’s ballot – all to advance their own interests. At the urging of the Florida Chamber, lawmakers passed a bill reducing the influence of out-of-state and special interest groups and returning control of the petition gathering process back to Floridians where it belongs. Florida voters gain greater transparency into the constitutional amendment process. The Florida Chamber has a decades-long tradition of protecting Florida’s constitution from the assault of special interests’ agendas, and we thank the Florida Legislature for returning the constitutional amendment process back to Floridians.

MOVING FORWARD…

The Florida Chamber will once again soon release its Legislative Report Card – a comprehensive report based on over 4,000 individuals votes on the Florida Chamber’s 2019 Jobs Agenda.

Click here to read the complete Florida Chamber 2019 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.