Florida Chamber Unveils 2015 Legislative Report Card

Missed Opportunities and Philosophical Differences Lead to Fewer Votes
Cast On Issues That Could Have Made Florida More Competitive

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (July 7 , 2015) – Following the 2015 regular and special legislative sessions, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today is releasing actual grades earned by all members of the House and Senate on the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Report Card. The grades reflect fewer scored votes cast than previous years on issues that would have made Florida more competitive – especially in the areas of healthcare, water policy, lawsuit abuse reform and taxpayer funded pension reform. Although this year will be remembered as the year the legislative process missed major opportunities, the Florida Chamber thanks Senate President Andy Gardiner and Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli for not allowing new lawsuits, new taxes or more regulations.

After tabulating more than 3,384 votes cast during the 2015 regular and special legislative sessions, nearly 54 percent of state lawmakers earned an “A” (90-100) on the priority pro-jobs issues outlined in the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Business Agenda. 3,384 actual scored votes is approximately only half of the scored votes as in previous years.

The Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card is an annual opportunity to honor and recognize members of the Florida Legislature who placed making Florida more competitive through private-sector job creation above special interests attempts to protect the status quo.

“Despite philosophical differences, lawmakers passed 20 Florida Chamber-backed measures during the two recent legislative sessions,” said Steve Knopik, Chair of the Florida Chamber and CEO of Beall’s, Inc. “Unfortunately, there were a number of missed opportunities, resulting in fewer votes taken on issues that could help make Florida more competitive.”

The Florida Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Report Card is an online tool that illuminates grades legislators earned based on their support of pro-jobs, pro-business issues during the annual legislative session.

Poll after poll shows that Floridians are concerned about the job the Congress and the Florida Legislature are doing. The latest Florida Chamber voter poll shows 41 percent of voters disapprove of the job lawmakers are doing, while 40 percent approve, compared to 70 percent of Florida voters who disapprove of the job Congress is doing.

“The Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card lets Florida’s families and small businesses know if legislators voted in favor of job creation and a stronger economy, and provides them with valuable information as they begin to consider the 2016 election cycle,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber.

Building on the Florida Chamber’s multi-year competitiveness agenda, this year the Florida Legislature and Governor Rick Scott approved more than $400 million in targeted tax relief, championed education reforms for a globally competitive workforce, invested in infrastructure and transportation, strengthened Florida’s economic development efforts, implemented Amendment 1 and made strides to address Florida’s forthcoming doctor shortage.

Analytics From the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Report Card Reveal:

  • 20 Senators earned an “A” – remaining steady from 2013 and 2014,
  • 61 Representatives earned an “A” – down from 71 last year, and
  • Grade Point Average for Representatives was 83 percent and 89 percent for Senators – down from 87 percent and up from 88.7 percent respectively last year.

The Florida Chamber entered the 2015 Legislative Session by encouraging lawmakers to focus on making Florida’s business climate more competitive and lowering the cost of living for Florida’s families and small businesses. The Florida Chamber’s agenda for jobs, Where We Stand, served as an important roadmap to educate lawmakers on the business community’s priorities.

Lawmakers were also notified prior to each vote impacting the Florida Chamber’s agenda for jobs that their vote would be counted. The tabulated results of each of those votes result in the Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card.

While 1,795 bills were filed, and 232 of them passed both chambers, the Florida Chamber has a focused agenda and the actual votes used to calculate the report card are those votes that tie directly to the Florida Chamber’s agenda for jobs. In the past four years, Governor Scott has had a perfect batting average in signing all 104 Florida Chamber-backed bills into law.

“While I wish the regulations process would have allowed more courageous votes, I’m extremely proud of the great work of the Florida Chamber’s Board of Directors, local chambers and the more than 30 lobbyists that have worked aggressively in support of free enterprise and job creation,” Hart said.

Moving forward, the Florida Chamber is already developing its 2016 Business Agenda, and the Florida Chamber’s Political Operations team, under the direction of Senior Vice President of Political Operations Marian Johnson, is actively enlisting pro-jobs, pro-business candidates to run in the 2016 election cycle.

The Florida Chamber will soon release How They Voted 2015, a detailed annual report summarizing the priorities of the recent legislative sessions and incorporating the 2015 Legislative Report Card.

 

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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 of Commerce Unveils 2015 Competitiveness Agenda

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Edie Ousley, 850-521-1231 or 850-251-6261
eousley@flchamber.com

 

Jobs, Growth and Opportunity Are Top
Priorities for Florida’s Business Community

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (January 30, 2014) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce today unveiled its 2015 Competitiveness Agenda and announced it will focus its resources and expertise to advance a jobs, growth and opportunity agenda. The Florida Chamber’s 2015 Competitiveness Agenda is Florida’s business agenda to build on securing Florida’s future through private-sector job creation, economic growth and greater opportunities for all Floridians.

 

Chief among the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Competitiveness Agenda are:

 

Looking at Florida’s economic horizon, it’s clear Florida is making positive strides. More than 725,000 private-sector jobs have been created since Governor Rick Scott was first elected, nearly 3,000 regulations have been eliminated or improved, taxes have been cut and Florida is now the third most populous state in the nation. Looking forward, Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Jerry Parrish projects that Florida will add approximately 250,000 new private-sector jobs in 2015 and grow by approximately 280,000 new residents.

However, while Florida is moving in the right direction, now is not the time to become complacent.

“The Florida Chamber encourages our state’s leaders to rally around a common bipartisan cause – and that cause is stronger and sustainable economic growth in order to expand opportunities for all Floridians,” 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, regulatory and litigation climate that is welcoming to job growth, ensure that we have a talented workforce to fill those jobs and ensure that Florida’s water and transportation resources are sustainable to meet the long-term needs of our growing population.”

Based on input from the Florida Chamber members, local chambers of commerce, partner associations, research, and unfinished business from 2014, the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Competitiveness Agenda is a blueprint of legislative priorities that move Florida toward an innovation-based economy and put long-term economic policy decisions ahead of short-term political fixes.

Lowering the Cost of Living on Florida Families

To lower the cost of living and the cost of doing business, the Florida Chamber recommends:

  • Reducing cell phone taxes (communication services tax),
  • Reducing taxes on commercial leases,
  • Preventing “hurricane taxes” through property insurance reforms,
  • Eliminating the $1.4 billion “hidden healthcare tax” on insured Floridians,
  • Reducing the $3,400 per family “lawsuit abuse tax,”
  • Further reducing the corporate income tax, and
  • E-Fairness.

 

Vigorously Pursuing Additional Regulatory Reform

With nearly 3,000 state level regulations eliminated by Governor Scott and the legislature, Florida’s regulatory climate is improving. However, burdensome local and federal regulations continue to impede job creation. To further improve Florida’s business climate, the Florida Chamber recommends:

  • Aligning local regulations to more closely mirror Florida’s regulatory framework – especially in the area of multi-jurisdictional permitting processes and workplace regulations, and
  • Continue pushing back on burdensome federal regulations that kill jobs and stifle innovation.

 

Securing Florida’s Water Future

To secure Florida’s water future, the Florida Chamber recommends:

  • Identifying and investing in cost-effective water projects,
  • Identifying and developing sustainable water resources,
  • Promoting private investments in surface water storage and water quality improvement,
  • Promoting regional water supply solutions, and
  • Prioritizing the use of science-based regulatory programs.

 

Championing Education Reform for
a Globally Competitive Workforce

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:

  • Championing school choice,
  • Supporting global standards for college and career readiness,
  •  Leveraging innovation via digital and virtual education,
  • Supporting global standards for college and career readiness, and
  • Empowering teachers through professional development and benefit options.

A complete listing of the Florida Chamber’s 2015 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.