Legislative Agenda Puts Jobs, Growth and Economic Opportunity in the Driver Seat

 

Urges Lawmakers to Put Florida’s Long-Term Competitiveness Ahead of Short-Term Political Fixes

TALLAHASSEE (November 17, 2015) – As the Florida Chamber enters its 100th year of fighting for business, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today unveiled its 2016 Competitiveness Agenda – a comprehensive legislative agenda that focuses resources and expertise to advance jobs, growth and greater economic opportunities for Floridians. Florida’s Competitiveness Agenda builds on 104 pro-jobs bills passed and signed into law in the last five years, and is helping position Florida to be America’s number one private sector job creator.

Although there are more than 30 scored items in the 2016 agenda, here is a sample of what will make Florida more competitive:

  • A tax climate that helps generate job growth (we support a $1 billion cut),
  • A talented workforce to fill those jobs (continued education reform),
  • A diversified economy, and further improving Florida’s business climate (we support the $250 million Florida Enterprise Fund and other improvements to EFI),
  • A quality of life that includes science-based water policy, and
  • Smarter healthcare outcomes through transparency, competition and ending the cost shift.

Looking at Florida’s economic horizon, it’s clear Florida is making positive strides. More than 941,000 private-sector jobs have been created since Governor Rick Scott was first elected, approximately 3,000 regulations have been eliminated or improved, more than one billion in taxes have been cut, and Florida’s unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in seven years.

Looking forward, Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Jerry Parrish projects that by December, Florida will have created one million net new private-sector jobs since Governor Scott was elected, and he projects that Florida will create 220,000 new jobs in 2016.

“While Florida is moving in the right direction, now is not the time to be complacent,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Florida is in competition for private-sector jobs with other states, and therefore we must ensure a tax and business climate that is welcoming to job growth, ensure that we have a talented workforce to fill those jobs, ensure that Florida’s quality of life provides sustainable water resource solutions and that we lower the cost of healthcare through better outcomes. Now is the time to put Florida’s long-term economic security ahead of short-term political fixes.”

Based on input from Florida Chamber members, local chambers of commerce, partner associations, research, and unfinished business from 2015, the Florida Chamber’s 2016 Competitiveness Agenda is a blueprint of legislative priorities that it will lobby, track and score this Legislative Session.

LOWERING THE COST OF LIVING ON FLORIDA FAMILIES AND BUSINESSES

To lower the cost of living and the cost of doing business, the Florida Chamber recommends approximately one billion dollars in targeted tax cuts as follows:

  • Phasing out the Business Rent Tax (taxes on commercial leases),
  • Continuing to phase out the corporate income tax,
  •  Permanently eliminating the sales tax on manufacturing machinery and equipment, and
  • Supporting sales tax holidays on back-to-school items and hurricane preparedness.

CHAMPIONING A TALENTED WORKFORCE TO FILL JOBS

Talent is the new economic development currency. A quality education is the best way to ensure students can compete in a global economy, and therefore the Florida Chamber recommends:

  • Staying the course on school grades, and issuing school grades this year, and
  • Providing educational opportunities and economic independence for individuals with unique abilities.

DIVERSIFYING FLORIDA’S ECONOMY & IMPROVING FLORIDA’S BUSINESS CLIMATE

To build the perfect business climate, the Florida Chamber recommends:

  • Investing in Florida’s Enterprise Fund,
  • Fixing Florida’s broken legal system by addressing Assignment of Benefits and Fair Settlement lawsuit abuses, and
  • Engaging a workers’ comp legislative solution if the Florida Supreme Court rules against job creators and in favor of trial lawyers in pending court cases.

SECURING FLORIDA’S WATER FUTURE

To secure Florida’s water future, and avoid California’s mistakes, the Florida Chamber recommends science-based water policy that will:

  • Help ensure a clean and abundant water supply,
  • Reduce the prospect of “water wars” among users in resource-limited areas, and
  • Promote strategic partnerships between the public and private sector in achieving water resource development goals.

LOWERING THE COST OF HEALTHCARE

Whether or not the legislature expands Medicaid, the Florida Chamber recommends reducing the cost of healthcare by:

  • Greater transparency – whether pricing outcomes or value of procedures or facilities – provides greater competition and is a win for Florida families,
  • Eliminating healthcare fraud and abuse through innovative practices and technologies,
  • Allowing telemedicine to serve as an alternative healthcare delivery system to increase capacity, deliver high quality of care and control costs, and
  • Increasing the capacity and number of medical professionals by allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to practice to their fullest potential.

 

A complete listing of the Florida Chamber’s 2016 Competitiveness Agenda which outlines more than 30 priorities the Florida Chamber will be lobbying, tracking and scoring this Legislative Session, is outlined in Where We Stand and available at www.FloridaChamber.com.

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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.

Florida Chamber-Backed Bills Save Floridians Money and Improve Florida’s Insurance and Legal Climates

Thanks to the outreach of Florida Chamber members and volunteers, several lawsuit abuse reform bills have passed their committees in the Florida House and Senate. Be sure to send these legislators a thank you note by clicking the appropriate links below. The following is an update on these bills:

Property Insurance Reform – Assignment of Benefits

HB 669 sponsored by Rep. John Tobia (R-Melbourne) and SB 1064 sponsored by Sen. Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange), allows insurance companies to write policies that prohibit the post-loss assignment of benefits or rights other than for purposes of payment. This protects the homeowner by allowing them to maintain the rights of their policy but allows the contractor or subcontractor to be directly paid by the insurer.

This legislation is important to Florida’s business community because the bill:

  • Protects insurers against inflated claims by allowing the homeowner to maintain control of the repair and mitigation process
  • Balances the rights of the homeowner and the insurer when a loss occurs
  • Clarifies that insurers can prohibit the post-loss assignment of benefits as a part of an insurance policy
What’s Next:
  • HB 669- Has one more hearing at the Regulatory Affairs Committee, before being heard on the House Floor
  • SB 1064- Has two more hearings, with the Senate Judiciary Committee up next
Learn More:

Read an article by Rep. David Santiago on how assignment of benefits (AOB) forms are being abused. Send these legislators a thank you note for their hard work on these bills by clicking here.

Lawsuit Abuse Reform – Bad Faith/Fair Settlement

HB 1197 sponsored by Rep. Mike Hill (R-Pensacola) and SB 1088 sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R- St. Petersburg),specifies that the claimant, insured, or third party representing the claimant or insured must provide a written notice as a precedent to bringing a third-party bad faith claim. This will help improve Florida’s costly bottom 10 legal climate.

This legislation is important to Florida’s business community because the bill:

  • Allows insurers to act in good faith prior to a bad faith lawsuit being brought forward
  • Decreases frivolous litigation by trial lawyers
  • Improves Florida’s legal environment under which businesses operate
What’s Next:
  • HB 1197- Has two more hearings, with the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee up next
  • SB 1088- Has three more hearings, with the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee up next
Learn More:

Visit our Legal Reform Page and learn where we stand on this issue. Also, send these legislators a thank you note for their hard work on these bills by clicking here.

Lawsuit Abuse Reform – Accuracy in Damages

HB 1199 sponsored by Rep. Larry Metz (R-Groveland) protects businesses from increased costs by ensuring accuracy in the damages paid in personal injury actions. This reduces “phantom damages” or inflated costs in these personal injury cases by allowing the jury to have information on the actual cost of medical care.

This legislation is important to Florida’s business community because the bill:

  • Ensures payments are made for actual and necessary medical expenses
  • Decreases frivolous litigation by trial lawyers who inflate medical damages to increase costs on businesses so they can receive a higher fee
What’s Next:

•HB 1199- Has one more hearing remaining at the House Judiciary Committee, before being heard on the House Floor

Learn More:

Visit our Legal Reform Page and learn where we stand on this issue. Also, send these legislators a thank you note for their hard work on these bills by clicking here.

Prejudgment Interest

SB 794 would allow interest to be charged on damages from the date the injury or tort occurred, not from the date the legal decision was made. More companies will be forced to settle to avoid increased legal costs as a result of additional interest in a drawn out legal system.

This legislation is bad for Florida’s business because the bill:

  • Further deteriorates Florida’s legal climate and image as a “gotcha” state
  • Increases the cost of personal injury lawsuits, which is already a significant cost to Florida’s employers, by charging interest before a legal decision has been rendered
  • Forces more companies to settle, despite the merit of the claim, to avoid paying interest for ongoing litigation

What’s Next:

  • SB 794- Has three more hearings, with the next hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee
Learn More:

Due to the high response rate from Florida Chamber members and volunteers, this bill has been postponed in the Senate for the third consecutive week.