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 Chamber Jobs Agenda Seeks Workers’ Comp Fix

As a business leader, you know all too well the fight for free enterprise never ends. The cost of doing business is a daily reminder of the challenges job creators face.

Florida’s business community has faced a $1.5 billion impact from workers’ compensation rates that remain 14.5 percent higher than they should be. Florida’s bottom five legal environment is an open invitation for “gotcha” lawsuits that cost Florida families an average of $3,400 each year in lawsuit abuse costs. And discouraging and discriminatory tax policies, like the Florida-only business rent tax, are uncompetitive.

Despite the economic, political and demographic shifts that have placed Florida in a fragile position, I believe Florida’s best days are yet to come. By reducing the cost of living and cost of doing business, redoubling efforts on workforce and investing in infrastructure, Florida’s economy will continue to strengthen jobs, wages and opportunities for Floridians.

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. And the Florida Chamber’s 2018 Jobs Agenda – reinforced by the united support of Florida’s business community – once again will be the driving force to create economic opportunity and grow jobs.

Legislative leaders, including House Speaker Richard Corcoran, former House Speaker Will Weatherford, more than a dozen members of the Florida Senate and House of Representatives, along with Florida Chamber Board Chair Bob Grammig joined us at Florida’s Capitol recently as we unveiled the jobs agenda, and called on lawmakers to strengthen Florida’s economy, spur smart growth, and create jobs and economic opportunity.

Among the 41 priorities on the 2018 Jobs Agenda is a fix to Florida’s workers’ comp system. By addressing the true cost drivers of the system, including attorney fees, Florida can experience stability to the system and lower unnecessary costs.

See What Others Are Saying

“I think workers’ comp is one of the biggest issues facing the state of Florida, especially if you put it in the context of working families. There is a tremendous amount of pressure for companies, like mine, that provide basic services to keep wages low.” – Senator Keith Perry, Florida Chamber Bottom Line.

 

“A competitive and predictable workers’ comp system that protects workers and job creators is vital to making Florida more competitive. Lawmakers should consider the long-term ramifications for the future of the state if they fail on reform this session.” – Carol Roberts, President and CEO, Bay County Chamber of Commerce.

 

“When it was first developed it had a good purpose. But, by the time you allow government to take over and attorneys to get involved, it has been completely run amuck. – Todd Gates, Southwest Florida Region Chair, Florida Chamber Board of Directors and Founder and Chairman of GATES.

 

The Orlando Business Journal, Florida Politics, WJHG News Channel 7, and more were among those talking about the 2018 Jobs Agenda.

Workers’ Comp Task Force

The 2018 Legislative Session begins January 9, and the Florida Chamber and its Workers’ Comp Task Force will once again be leading the charge to reform Florida’s broken workers’ comp system. As a leader in Florida’s business community, your help is needed.

 

Here are three ways you can help:

  1. Share this message,
  2. Join our Worker’s Comp Task Force, 
  3. Engage with our lead lobbyists on this issue, Carolyn Johnson (cjohnson@flchamber.com) for in-depth legislative details.

As always, thank you for your support of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Florida Chamber of Commerce Unveils 2018 Jobs Agenda

 

That Will Continue Strengthening Florida’s Economy, Spur Smart Growth, Create Jobs and Economic Opportunity

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (November 14, 2017) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce today unveiled its 2018 Jobs and Competitiveness Agenda – a legislative roadmap that will continue strengthening Florida’s economy, spur smart growth, create jobs and economic opportunity for everyone. The 2018 Legislative Session begins January 9 and the Florida Chamber looks forward to working with Governor Scott, President Negron, Speaker Corcoran and the legislature as we look for opportunities to find common ground to secure Florida’s future.

Recognizing that economic, political and demographic shifts have placed Florida in a fragile position, the Florida Chamber’s 2018 Jobs Agenda is built on the belief that Florida’s best days are far from over, they are yet to come. By reducing the cost of living and cost of doing business, redoubling efforts on workforce, and investing in infrastructure, Florida’s economy will continue to strengthen, and jobs, wages and opportunities will grow for Floridians.

“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, creating economic opportunity and growing jobs,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The Florida Chamber’s Jobs Agenda, outlined in Where We Stand, details 41 legislative recommendations. Among these recommendations to help strengthen Florida’s economy, spur growth, create jobs and lift incomes, the Florida Chamber recommends:

 

Reducing the Cost of Living:

Floridians currently pay the 6th 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 and the legislature should:

 

Reducing the Cost of Doing Business:

Florida’s business community is facing a $1.5 billion impact from workers’ comp rates that remain 14.5 percent higher than they should be.

  • The legislature should fix Florida’s workers’ compensation system by addressing the true cost drivers of the system, including attorney fees. Doing so will bring stability to the system and lower unnecessary costs.

Florida’s bottom five legal environment is an open invitation for “gotcha” lawsuits that cost Florida families an average of $3,400 each year in lawsuit abuse costs.

Discouraging and discriminatory tax policies, like the Florida-only business rent tax, are uncompetitive.

 

Preparing for the Future:

There are 265,200 jobs looking for people, and 374,000 people looking for jobs. Building 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.

  • Redouble efforts on workforce education.
  • Expand access to pathways to Florida’s attainment.goals.

By 2030, 5.5 million more people will call Florida home. A growing Florida means a growing need for infrastructure investments in Florida’s energy, water, transportation, telecommunications, and other hard and soft infrastructure sectors.

Based on input from Florida Chamber members, local chambers of commerce, partner associations, research and unfinished business from 2017, the Florida Chamber’s Jobs Agenda is a blueprint of legislative priorities that it will lobby, track and score this legislative session.

A complete listing of the Jobs Agenda is available at www.FloridaChamber.com/WhereWeStand.

 

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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.