Florida Chamber of Commerce Agrees with Attorney General Ashley Moody

Florida Supreme Court Should Strike Down Unconstitutional Proposal That Would Raise Electricity Prices

Florida Chamber Files Legal Brief With Supreme Court

TALLAHASSEE, FL (April 18, 2019) – Today the Florida Chamber of Commerce, in its ongoing efforts to ensure policies aren’t put in place that would make Florida less competitive and electricity more expensive, filed a legal brief opposing a proposed energy regulation amendment.

“We cannot secure Florida’s future with regulatory policies that will make Florida less competitive and electricity more expensive,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Voters deserve to know the facts – this price-hiking electricity related amendment is a drastic and costly proposal that will drive up costs on Florida’s families, consumers and local businesses.”

The Florida Chamber was joined in the legal brief (amicus curiae) by the Florida Economic Development Council (FEDC).

“For over 50 years, the Florida Economic Development Council has promoted economic development throughout the state,” said Beth Cicchetti, Executive Director, FEDC.

“Not only does the ballot initiative violate a number of laws, it could cause great harm to our more than half-century of work to build Florida’s economy and attract new businesses to our state.”

The brief outlines in detail how the energy regulation amendment violates Florida’s single-subject rule which requires that an amendment must not engage in logrolling, and must not substantially alter or perform the functions of multiple aspects of government. Specifically, the brief says:

  • The ballot summary includes two subjects:
    • 1: A competitive market that,
    • 2: Would exclude established market participants from competing
  • The ballot initiative would force voters who may favor competition, but not want to put their current energy provider out of business to vote either yes or not to both. That is classic logrolling.
  • The proposal substantially alters and performs the functions of multiple branches of government.

In previous statements opposing this proposal, the Florida Chamber outlined that studies conducted by Charles River Associates show that the proposed changes to Florida’s electricity market would have the very damaging financial impact on state and local governments of more than $1.2 billion per year in increased costs and reduced revenues. That means less funding for vital local services, including fire departments and first responders, and higher taxes for consumers and small businesses.

The Florida Chamber has a long history of opposing constitutional amendments that can be achieved through the legislative process. The energy regulation amendment can be achieved through the legislative process, and therefore should not be permanently enshrined into Florida’s foundational document.

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Amendment 2 Affects All Floridian Consumers and Property Owners

 

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Carrie O’Rourke, the Florida Realtors Association’s Vice President of Public Policy, recently sat down with us to discuss Amendment 2, its impact on Florida’s consumers and their property, and how to get involved in educating other voters.

“It impacts every Floridian. Not only from a consumer side, but it keeps that stability and that security in the business place so that small businesses can plan and they know what their property taxes are going to be year over year,” said O’Rourke.

 

Vote Yes on Amendment 2

Amendment 2 prevents excessive property taxes and ensures that Florida remains an affordable place to live, work and do business. To learn more about the amendment and how it affects Floridians, check out the Florida Chamber’s Constitutional Amendment Guide or visit Everyone is for 2 here.

 

Florida Chamber Bottom Line: “Yes on 3”: Florida Has Come Too Far to Gamble

 

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Amendment 3 Puts Voters in Charge

 

Representative Mike La Rosa, Florida House Chair of the Gaming Control Committee, explains the uniqueness of Florida’s economy, and how a vote against Amendment 3 will threaten Florida’s family friendly brand.

“Our economy is very unique here in Florida, and adding an element of gaming should honestly have the voice of the entire state,” said La Rosa.

 

Vote Yes on Amendment Three

The Florida Chamber supports “Yes on 3,” and putting voters in charge of important decisions like gambling expansion. Learn more by clicking here.

Appeals Court Strikes Down Miami Beach Minimum Wage

On December 13, the Third District Court of Appeals sided with the Florida Chamber of Commerce and struck down Miami Beach’s minimum wage ordinance. The Florida Chamber of Commerce, along with the Florida Retail Federation and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, challenged the Miami Beach ordinance soon after it was adopted in 2016.

The Miami Beach minimum wage increase attempted to usurp existing Florida wage law. The Florida Legislature in 2003 preempted minimum wage, requiring a single statewide standard. In 2004, voters approved a constitutional amendment that increased Florida’s minimum wage above the federal level. Miami Beach had attempted to mandate an increased minimum wage of $13.31 per hour by 2021 for all businesses within the city’s boundaries, citing the constitutional amendment as giving them the authority.

However, the Third District Court of Appeals ruled that the 2004 constitutional amendment did not conflict with the ability of the state to preempt minimum wage, declaring the Miami Beach ordinance invalid.

This is a victory for Florida’s business community, and serves as a proof point to other local governments that a patchwork of mandated wage regulations are against the law. Instead, the statewide minimum wage remains in effect.

The Florida Chamber encourages job creators to remain watchful of this issue. It is likely that Miami Beach will appeal this ruling to the Florida Supreme Court.

Free Markets, Not Government Mandates, Will Improve Lives of Floridians
In order to create sustainable wages, communities should invest in removing barriers and making it easier to empower entrepreneurs to grow the economic base — produce more and pay more based on markets and consumers needs. Learn more by reading the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Less Poverty, More Prosperity: Florida Fiscal Cliffs Report.

Solar Advocates Applaud Overwhelming Legislative Vote for Solar Bills

 

High Profile Business Groups and Solar Advocates Applaud Overwhelming Legislative Vote for Solar Bills
~SB 90 solar implementing bill passed today; onto Governor~

TALLAHASSEE & STATEWIDE (May 4, 2017)  Today the Florida legislature passed SB 90, legislation that implements Amendment 4, the solar ballot initiative that 73% of voters supported last August. Amendment 4 provides Florida homeowners and businesses an exemption from burdensome property taxes on solar and renewable energy devices. Bills to implement Amendment 4 passed unanimously in both the Senate and House chambers, with support from a broad coalition of business groups, the solar industry, and clean energy advocates. Below are statements from statewide associations and Vote Solar in response to the passage of the legislation.

“Last August, Florida voters called for solar progress in one of the most popular amendments in the Sunshine State’s history,” said SCOTT THOMASSON, Southeast Director at Vote Solar. “We applaud Senator Jeff Brandes and House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues for their leadership in working with all sides to pass a balanced bill that respects the will of the voters they serve while also protecting customers. Now, it’s up to Governor Rick Scott to honor the voters’ overwhelming support for solar development and deliver on the promise of more jobs and energy choices across Florida.”

 

“With technological advances, energy opportunities for Floridians are increasing, and now families and job creators will benefit from a targeted tax break on solar panels,” said DAVID HART, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The Florida Chamber commends Senator Jeff Brandes and lawmakers for helping Florida achieve energy independence while also strengthening Florida’s economy.”

 

“The Florida Retail Federation commends the legislature for answering the will of the voters and passing SB 90 which implements solar Amendment 4,” said SCOTT SHALLEY, President of the Florida Retail Federation. “Thanks to bill sponsors Senator Jeff Brandes and House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues retailers throughout the Sunshine State will be able to take advantage of this great solar energy policy.”

 

“A victory lap to the finish line on solar energy today. The Florida legislature passed a bill to implement what 2 million voters called for last election cycle in Amendment 4,” said JULIO FUENTES, President of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “Our members include more than 604,000 Hispanic owned small businesses who support energy diversity and thank the legislature for their excellent work.”

 

“Tourism is Florida’s leading industry. Visitors and residents alike, will benefit from the energy savings resulting from the passage of this legislation,” said RICHARD TURNER, General Counsel and Vice President of Government Relations for the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “The hospitality industry is excited to support our lawmakers’ smart policies that promote sustainability and diversify our energy grid.”

 

Republican lawmakers worked closely with clean energy and jobs advocates, including Vote Solar, the Solar Energy Industries Association, Advanced Energy Economy, and The Alliance for Solar Choice, to craft a bill that best serves Florida businesses and residents. The final bill has earned praise from a range of business, consumer and environmental organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, Florida Conservation Voters, and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

 

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Do You Know Who Created the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission?

> SEND an email to Christopher Emmanuel

Did you know the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), which meets once every 20 years to review Florida’s Constitution, helped create the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in 1998?

Eight of the nine finalized ballot proposals by the 1998 CRC were successfully adopted by the public. They include:

  1. The creation of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which passed with 72 percent of the popular vote.
  2. Adjustments to the education system, which passed with 71 percent of the vote.
  3. The restructuring the State Cabinet, which eliminated the elected Cabinet positions of the Secretary of State and Secretary of Education, and merged the offices of Treasurer and Comptroller into the Chief Financial Officer. That measure passed with 56 percent.
  4. Increased ballot access, which (among other things) gave third party candidates easier access to the ballot, passed with 64 percent.
  5. The creation of a local option for criminal history records check and waiting period for the purchase of firearms, which passed with 72 percent.

These initiatives make an impact in our state to this day. And while eight out of the nine proposals passed, three of these would have failed today due to the 60 percent vote threshold needed to pass constitutional amendments. The CRC holds incredible power over Florida’s Constitution. Their decisions on topics ranging from gambling to education to redistricting to the courts, could impact Florida’s families and businesses for the next 20 years.

Not all those seeking to influence the process agree with our vision of Florida’s future.  There is no doubt that plaintiff lawyers, extreme environmentalists, union officials, and out-of-state billionaires will seek to use this process to accomplish what they cannot do through the legislative process.  Much work has been done by the Florida Chamber of Commerce to advocate for free market solutions and opportunity for all.  Make no mistake – those accomplishments are in jeopardy any time the Florida Constitution is changed.

More than in any other political process in Florida, it is vital for the citizens to be informed, engaged, and skeptical.  I encourage you to contact us today at cemmanuel@flchamber.com and get involved today.

LEARN MORE

To learn more about how the CRC works, who is appointed and the importance it can make to our state’s future, click here.

Florida Supreme Court Approves Marijuana Amendment

Just minutes ago, the Florida Supreme Court issued their ruling on what is commonly referred to as the “John Morgan Marijuana Amendment.” The Florida Supreme Court ruled the initiative petition, ballot title and summary satisfy the legal requirement and is therefore constitutional, which means the amendment can be placed on the 2016 ballot, providing other requirements are met.

The amendment “Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions” still must reach the threshold of 683,149 verified signatures from 14 of Florida’s congressional district by February 1, 2016.  Currently, the effort has 400,032 of those verified signatures; however, they have reached their quota in only three congressional districts.

The significance of having this amendment on the 2016 ballot is huge. Our polling shows this amendment will most likely pass as Florida voters are compassionate about this issue and want people with debilitating diseases to have relief. And when we dissect the crosstabs, we find voters between the ages of 18-29, those over 65 and Democrats are most likely to vote for this amendment.

Let’s face it; Florida is the gateway to the White House. In presidential election years, voter turnout is approximately 25 percent higher than in non-presidential years, increasing from 45 percent to more than 70 percent. In the past, the younger voters have needed a reason to go to the polls. What better reason in a presidential year to turn out the younger voters and increase the 65+ voters than to have a constitutional amendment on the ballot?  You broke the code:  it is a voter turnout mechanism.

Should this amendment make it on the 2016 ballot, it will change the dynamics of the elections.

We are in for quite a ride.  So stay tuned and take care,

Marian

Statement On Solar Choice Amendment

TALLAHASSEE (October 22, 2015) – Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson today released the below statement on the Florida Supreme Court’s approval of a solar choice amendment.

“With Florida’s population expected to increase by six million people by the year 2030, the Florida Chamber of Commerce believes we must prepare Florida’s infrastructure for smart growth and development.

“To provide Florida families with reliable and cost-effective energy options, including solar, the Florida Chamber supports energy policies that focus on the long-term demands of our state that will help meet the needs of Florida’s growing population. Reliable and sustainable infrastructure is important to the prosperity of all Floridians, as well as Florida’s competitiveness.

“The Florida Chamber has a long-standing history of opposing constitutional amendments that can be achieved through the legislative or budget process, and therefore opposes the solar choice amendment. Additionally, the Florida Chamber has a strong history of advocating for a comprehensive state energy portfolio, including solar energy.

“The solar choice amendment is driven by special interest who seek to raise electricity prices on Florida families and make Florida less competitive. There’s a right way to do solar, but Florida’s Constitution isn’t it.

“The Florida Chamber will continue to encourage voters to protect our constitution by opposing this amendment that provides protections and unrestricted and unregulated growth for a specific industry.”

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

Justices Hear Arguments Over Potentially Costly Solar Amendment

Florida Chamber Urges Supreme Court to Reject Ambiguous Amendment

Fresh from advocating for Florida families and job creators, the Florida Chamber of Commerce has returned from today’s Florida Supreme Court hearings, where Justices heard debate on a proposed amendment that could increase energy cost. A group behind Limits or Prevents Barriers to Local Solar Electricity Supply defended their proposed amendment before the Florida Supreme Court.

“As a large and growing state, Florida needs a diverse energy portfolio that includes solar energy, however, the proposed constitutional amendment mandates major changes in existing law, using language that is unclear and misleading,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi in June.

The latest Florida Chamber Political Institute (FCPI) poll shows that Floridians support solar energy, but they do not support a proposed solar amendment that could drive up energy costs. Only 41 percent of likely Florida voters support this proposal – falling far short of passage.

The Florida Chamber filed an Amicus Brief with the Florida Supreme Court opposing this amendment. As noted in the brief prepared by former Florida Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero, the Florida Chamber believes:

  • The solar initiative violates the single-subject requirement, and
  • The title and summary of the amendment are deceptive and misleading to Florida voters.

The Florida Chamber has a long-standing tradition of opposing amendments that can be addressed legislatively or through the state’s budget, an opinion former Florida Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero shares in regards to this amendment.

“The proposed solar amendment would put into the Florida Constitution policy requirements that could be accomplished through the Legislative process. Voters should only be asked to amend the state Constitution if the proposed amendment clearly covers a single subject, which this proposed amendment does not,” said former Florida Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero.

David Hart, Florida Chamber Executive Vice President, in interviews with members of Florida’s Capitol Press Corps, told reporters that Floridians support solar. However, as Hart explained, “they just don’t support this one.”

With 30 proposed constitutional amendments attempting to make their way onto the ballot and into Florida’s Constitution, voters will be looking closely at those that might increase their utility costs.

Add Your Voice:

Sign the Florida Chamber’s resolution opposing this bad solar amendment. Contact Greg Blose at gblose@flchamber.com to obtain the resolution.

Amendment 2 is a Trick – Not a Treat

Readers beware – you’re in for a scare! Amendment 2’s language is a trick to voters and may allow for the widespread legalization of marijuana.

Local newspapers are warning their readers of the many problems with Amendment 2. Here’s what some of them had to say.

  • The Florida Times Union “overly vague amendment”
  • Orlando Sentinel “potentially littered with loopholes”
  • Tampa Bay Times “too broad”
  • Tampa Tribune “too many risks”
  • Panama City News Herald “will cause more problems than it solves”
  • Daytona Beach News-Journal “giant, open-ended loophole”

Florida voters are smart. They know that a NO vote will help ensure Floridians don’t get tricked.

On November 4, vote NO on 2.

 

Paid political advertisement paid for by Florida Chamber of Commerce PAC, Post Office Box 11309, Tallahassee, Florida 32302 independently of any committee.

 

 

 

 

Jeb Bush, Big Guns Oppose Medical Marijuana Proposal

BY: KEVIN DERBY

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida and the Florida Trucking Association announced on Thursday they opposed Amendment 2, a proposed state Constitution amendment expanding medical marijuana in the Sunshine State.

Bush said on Thursday Amendment 2 would hurt efforts to lure tourists to Florida.

“Florida leaders and citizens have worked for years to make the Sunshine State a world-class location to start or run a business, a family-friendly destination for tourism and a desirable place to raise a family or retire,” said Bush. “Allowing large-scale, marijuana operations to take root across Florida, under the guise of using it for medicinal purposes, runs counter to all of these efforts. I believe it is the right of states to decide this issue, and I strongly urge Floridians to vote against Amendment 2 this November.”

Mark Wilson, the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber, took aim at trial lawyer John Morgan who has been the point man behind efforts to get Amendment 2 on the ballot.

“Normally we focus on creating jobs, improving education and making Florida more competitive, but this is the type of business Florida can do without,” said Wilson. “I find it curious that the largest funder of this push to legalize pot is a personal-injury trial lawyer firm, yet such measures are overwhelmingly opposed by Florida’s medical and law enforcement community. Florida voters are smart and when the facts are on the table, I believe they will say no to drugs in Florida.”

Wilson noted the proposed amendment offered immunity to many participants involved in raising, using, selling and transporting medical marijuana, calling it a “red flag.”

Florida Chamber & Gov. Bush Join ‘Don’t Let Florida Go To Pot’ Coalition

The Florida Chamber of Commerce and former Gov. Jeb Bush today expressed concerns about Amendment 2 and the problems it could create by allowing large scale marijuana commercialization and sales in Florida, and added their voices to the Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot coalition.

“Florida leaders and citizens have worked for years to make the Sunshine State a world-class location to start or run a business, a family-friendly destination for tourism and a desirable place to raise a family or retire,” said Gov. Bush. “Allowing large-scale, marijuana operations to take root across Florida, under the guise of using it for medicinal purposes, runs counter to all of these efforts. I believe it is the right of states to decide this issue, and I strongly urge Floridians to vote against Amendment 2 this November.”

Flyer_FL Chamber Joins Dont Let FL Go to Pot Coalition The Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot coalition is a collective effort of local and state organizations working together to educate Floridians on the dangers of marijuana and efforts to allow marijuana for supposed medical uses in Florida.“Normally we focus on creating jobs, improving education and making Florida more competitive, but this is the type of business Florida can do without,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “I find it curious that the largest funder of the push to legalize pot is a personal injury trial lawyer firm, yet such measures are overwhelmingly opposed by Florida’s medical and law enforcement community. Florida voters are smart and when the facts are on the table, I believe they will say no to drugs in Florida.”

 

Also joining the coalition are our partners at the Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida and the Florida Trucking Association.

National drug policy expert Calvina Fay, Executive Director of the Drug Free America Foundation, raised another red flag that she says is most concerning. “Our greatest fear is that this will make marijuana much more available to kids and, worse, almost normalize it to them. They’ll see that it is legal and supposedly being used as medicine, so they think it is no big deal,” said Fay.

 

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