Florida Chamber Bottom Line: Rahul Razdan, Florida Polytechnic University, Discusses STEM Advancements and Autonomous Vehicles


Autonomous Florida     Legislative Fly-In



In the latest Florida Chamber Bottom Line, we sat down with Dr. Rahul Razdan, Policy Director of Special Projects at Florida Polytechnic University, to discuss the future of autonomous vehicles in Florida and the exciting advancements coming from Florida Polytechnic University.

“We [Florida Polytechnic University] are a STEM university and one of the states only public STEM universities, so we are graduating students that are engineers and computer scientists who have core skills this economy needs,” said Dr. Razdan.


Engage With Us:

  1. Join the Florida Chamber’s Autonomous Florida program to learn how you can help make Florida the autonomous capital of North America.
  2. Register for the Florida Chamber’s annual Legislative Fly-In, where business leaders will engage with elected officials and learn details about the forthcoming Legislative Session.


Florida Chamber Bottom Line – Author Eric Eggers Highlights George Soros’ Negative Influence on American Elections


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“There is nothing conspiratorial about the amount of money [George Soros] spent to do two things that keep American elections vulnerable to voter fraud,” said Eric Eggers, author of the new book, Fraud: How the Left Plans to Steal the Next Election, on the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line.

He notes that one of the ways George Soros does this is through litigious lawsuits that prevent states from making their elections more secure. In a state like Florida, which holds the title as the nation’s worst “judicial hellhole,” this can have serious ramifications on Florida’s election security.

Eggers also mentions that Soros and other groups participate in “granny farming,” particularly in Florida. Targeting senior citizens, these groups send paid individuals to “assist” in filling out absentee ballots, often just filling the ballots out themselves for the elderly person.



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.


GrayRobinson’s Kim McDougal Featured on the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line


Florida 2030: Talent Supply & Education Recommendations     Learn More About Education



GrayRobinson’s Kim McDougal discusses K-12 education funding, college affordability and school choice on the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line.

Closing Florida’s skills gap by improving educational opportunities is essential to providing Floridians with jobs that allow them to succeed.

“The Florida Chamber has done a great job with businesses, you have the LaunchMyCareerFL.org for the students to make sure every student knows, ‘If I pursue this degree, these are the types of jobs and wages those jobs pay,’” said McDOUGAL.

In an ever changing world, McDougal also notes that it’s just as vital to ensure the existing workforce has the skills they need, just as it’s important to ensure students are prepared to earn when they graduate.


Workforce is Changing – Florida Must Be Ready

According to research found in the Florida Chamber Foundation’s newly released Florida 2030 recommendations on Talent Supply & Education, the future of work is changing and Florida has both challenges and opportunities on the horizon. Click here to learn more.

Locally and Globally, the Impacts of Florida’s Agriculture Industry are Undeniable


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NAFTA and Hurricane Irma’s impacts on Florida’s agriculture industry are the topics of discussion on the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line public affairs program. Adam Basford, Director of Legislative Affairs for the Florida Farm Bureau, shares how both have had an economic impact on this pillar of Florida’s economy.


“We entered session talking about disaster. Hurricane Irma had a huge impact on the state as a whole and agriculture specifically. About $2 billion worth of damage was done to agriculture through Hurricane Irma,” BASFORD said. “Florida continues to be a major player in the agriculture world. I guarantee you in 2030, Florida agriculture is going to be standing here working hard to produce food and other things that we as Americans need.”



Help Florida’s Agriculture Industry Continue to Make an Impact

Florida’s agriculture and natural resources industry is a driving force in Florida’s economy. If you believe the industry can continue to lead the way in the nation, sign the petition today.

Preparing Students for the 21st Century Workforce

From local businesses to major corporations, a qualified workforce is a top concern for job creators.

This week lawmakers will hear a bill, SB 1056, designed to expand access to computer science courses in Florida’s public schools. The Florida Chamber supports this legislation and any efforts to better prepare students for high paying, in-demand careers.

David Dimmett, Senior Vice President of Project Lead the Way, discusses the importance of computer science skills in the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line public affairs program.

“In my view, computer science is the new literacy. Without this essential skill, students are going to have a lifetime of missed opportunities. The jobs of the future will require a foundation in these skills,” Dimmett said. “Gone are the days when schools can do this work in isolation or alone. The best school districts across the country are doing this work in partnership with their business and industry partners in their local community and across the state.”

Judge David Langham Discusses Workers’ Compensation on the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line


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Florida’s business community is facing a $1.5 billion impact from workers’ comp rates. Compared to 2016, workers’ comp rates were up 14.5 percent. With the 2018 Legislative Session now underway, the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line public affairs program recently talked with David Langham, Deputy Chief Judge, for a closer look at Florida’s workers’ compensation.

Judge Langham said the 2016-17 statistics in the Judges for Compensation Claims Annual Report show an almost 200 percent increase in claimant attorney hourly fees. He said there was a jump from $23 million to $75 million, despite predicting petition filing volumes remaining the same in 2018.

“The Miles decision allows injured workers to enter into contracts of representation with attorneys that could be to their detriment. We’ve seen some attorneys fees at 25 percent. We’ve heard, anecdotally, of attorneys fees greater than 25 percent and those dollars are coming out of the injured workers pocket to pay an attorney for representation,” Langham said. “The 2016-17 statistics in our annual report demonstrate that we see less statutory fees [the presumptive formula fees] and more hourly fees. There has been a lot in the news about this 36 percent increase in claimants attorneys fees, the lion’s share of that has been hourly fees paid in that perspective.”

Rep. Danny Burgess sponsored HB 7009, which passed the full House last week. The bill creates a new attorney fee schedule and addresses other provisions related to the Florida Supreme Court cases that resulted in higher workers’ comp premiums.

Rep. Jim Boyd Talks House Tax Package, Workers’ Comp

Florida House Tax Package Focuses on What Works for Families and Businesses

“Our tax package is simply a split between families and individuals and homeowners and businesses. Both are important to Florida. The more we can eliminate burdens on businesses, the more they’ll be able to expand and employ, and the more we can eliminate burdens on families, the more they’ll be able to have money to spend for the things that are important for them. I’m excited about our end product,” – REP. JIM BOYD, FLORIDA HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN


Watch Rep. Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton), the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, on the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line explaining some of the advantages of the House’s recently passed tax package. The package contains additional homestead exemptions for homeowners, sales tax holidays for families and veterans, R&D tax rollbacks and reductions to the Florida-only business rent tax.

Boyd, who, along with his colleagues in the House, also passed workers’ compensation reform earlier this week, also urged viewers and Florida Chamber members to contact their Senators in advance of Monday’s upcoming workers’ comp discussion and urge them to adopt legislation closer to the House’s.

Be the First to Know

Be among the first to know what passed, what failed, the details of Florida’s newly passed budget, and if lawmakers worked to make Florida more competitive when the Florida Chamber releases its end of session report on Friday, May 5 – the final day of the 2017 Legislative Session. Don’t miss out on this exclusive member service. Email Christi McCray today at christimccray@flchamber.com.

POLITICO’s Matt Dixon Discusses Legislative Infighting

Conflict Between Republican Lawmakers is Part of Larger Battle

“There’s going to be some inherent tension with more traditionally pro-business Republicans and some of the Republicans the trial lawyers have done a pretty good job of getting elected. That’s probably spurring some of what we’re seeing this year specifically, but to a larger context…when there’s one-party rule there is generally going to be some in-fighting.”
Matt Dixon, Senior Reporter, POLITICO Florida

Watch Matt Dixon, senior reporter with POLITICO Florida, on the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line. Dixon explains how the ongoing in-fighting between Republicans in the legislature on issues ranging from pre-judgment interest to economic development incentives is the result of the long-running clash between pro-business politicians and those supporting the plaintiff trial bar.

Join the Conversation

Electing pro-business candidates is the best way to ensure Florida remains competitive. Schedule your personal Corporate Political Briefing today. Contact Marian Johnson, Senior Vice President of Political Operations at mjohnson@flchamber.com to set up your briefing.

Eric Silagy Discusses the Importance of International Trade

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The importance of international trade is the topic of discussion on the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line.

Florida Power & Light President and CEO Eric Silagy, a past Florida Chamber chairman and the current chair of the Florida Chamber’s International Business Council, talked about the crucial role played by international trade in growing Florida’s economy.

Silagy said Florida has the right combination of a robust infrastructure, a desirable workforce and a favorable tax environment to attract international business.

“International trade has a huge impact on our state’s economy and employs over 2.5 million people,” ERIC SILAGY said.

“We have a lot of import and export businesses that are here, and our diverse, multicultural economy is terrific for attracting companies who really want to do business overseas but have the ability to headquarter here in a predictable, stable environment and then grow business elsewhere.”


Get Involved:

The Florida Chamber is set to host its annual International Days summit from Feb. 14-15 in Tallahassee. Leading international trade and industry experts will convene to discuss issues ranging from foreign direct investment to expanding Florida’s presence in global markets. Click here for more information about how to sign up.



 The Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line is a web-based program featuring key figures from Florida’s corridors of power. Hosting the conversation with Eric Silagy is Florida Chamber Executive Vice President of Government & Political Relations David Hart.





Putting Injured Workers And Job Creators First, Not Trial Lawyers Is the Right Thing To Do To Keep Florida’s Workers’ Comp System Working


September 29, 2016

Attention Florida business owners—in case you missed it, you are about to be hit with a workers’ compensation insurance increase that you most likely haven’t planned for, all for the benefit of Florida’s billboard trial lawyers.

This week, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation approved a 14.5 percent workers’ compensation rate increase that takes effect December 1 for new and renewal policies, the fallout from two damaging Florida Supreme Court decisions, Castellanos and Westphal.

A rate increase this big, this sudden, hurts Florida’s competitiveness and employers large and small. Many businesses will be forced to delay hiring – or even cut existing staff – to cover this leap in their workers’ comp premiums.

The increase is also a direct blow to Florida’s business-friendly climate and jeopardizes the 62 consecutive months of private-sector job growth we’ve experienced.

Let’s rewind back to 2003. At that time, Florida had the second-highest workers’ comp rates in the United States. These rates were threatening our state’s competitiveness. In response, the Florida Chamber of Commerce joined with then-Governor Jeb Bush to pass a series of common-sense legislative reforms.

These reforms have become a national success story. Since enactment, Florida’s workers’ comp rates dropped approximately 60 percent, while at the same time injured workers got the care they needed more quickly and were able to return to work an average 10 days sooner than in the past.

But the Supreme Court rulings, issued earlier this year, have jolted job creators and threaten to unravel all the great progress our state has made over the past 13 years.

The most damaging of the two court rulings overturned reasonable attorney fee caps that were established to stop trial lawyers from using often minor workplace injuries as a means for suing businesses in hopes of hitting the jackpot on fee awards.

Florida’s insurance regulators had little choice but to approve the sudden rate hikes we’re seeing now because they forecast that the court’s approval of runaway legal fees is retroactive and will set off a tidal wave of trial lawyers refiling old cases and concocting new ones.

The worst part of this mess is that it isn’t about improving safety or care for injured workers. It’s been thoroughly documented that the 2003 reforms succeeded in getting workers well and back to work faster, while eliminating unnecessary legal costs. The only group benefiting from this ruling is the trial lawyers.

In fact, in Castellanos, the trial lawyer argued for $38,000 in attorney fees in a case in which the injured worker was awarded only $800 – and the Supreme Court now says those fees are acceptable.

We urgently need a legislative solution to address this looming crisis. Our goal must be to ensure that injured workers continue to receive access to quality care and the court system, while providing job creators cost controls and the benefits of reining in outrageous attorney fees.

The Florida Chamber is actively leading the charge to help lower workers’ comp rates once again. Our Workers’ Compensation Task Force has been engaging Florida’s highest elected leaders, working with the brightest legal minds and coordinating with other states to develop the right solution. We are also working closely with business leaders and local chambers throughout the state to ensure that Florida’s success story does not unravel and become a nightmare again.

Putting injured workers and job creators first, not trial lawyers, is the right thing to do to keep Florida’s workers’ comp system working.


Political Insiders Look to the Florida Chamber Political Institute

“The political institute is to politics what a telescope is to an astronomer- it is a tool to help us provide in-depth, non-partisan research and analysis so that we can find the best candidates to help the business community.”

When it comes to securing Florida’s future, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Fighting for free enterprise and focusing on policies that support jobs and strong families is the Florida Chamber’s mission. Beyond the legislative battles in Tallahassee or Washington, pro-jobs policies need champions, and that is why we engage in elections.

Our engagement efforts begin by electing pro-biz, pro-jobs candidates chosen by the Florida Chamber Political Institute’s (FCPI) rigorous candidate interview sessions — one of Florida’s most thorough and well-respected pro-business candidate review processes.

But why exactly are candidate interviews so important to Florida’s legislative process?

“It’s really all about the dialogue,” said Bjorklund. “When we get in the interview process, we are able to talk with these candidates and find out what their plans are to change Florida and how they are going to help Florida and we give them the opportunity to show us how business can play a role in that.”

And to FCPI Chair Bjorklund, being a member of FCPI is all about being informed.

“To me, it’s all about access and it’s all about information,” said Bjorklund. “As a member of the Political Institute, you have access to these candidates, which you otherwise may not be able to go see. This year is going to be a very, very populated election season…trying to manage logistically meeting these people and finding out who are going to be the best ones to serves Florida, just simply is impossible. Through the institute, we allow folks the chance to meet these folks and find the ones that are best suited to serve in office.”


Danny Martell Discusses Successes in Diversifying Palm Beach County’s Economy

“It’s really all about leadership. Our most important factor is being able to communicate with all the leaders in our community.”

–          Danny Martell, Executive Director, Economic Council of Palm Beach County, Inc.


Danny Martell, Executive Director of the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, Inc. visited the Florida Chamber Foundation’s studio recently to discuss how Palm Beach County has been successful in diversifying and growing its economy.

“We’ve taken the opportunity to say, we need to be able to find other industries in this community in order to make sure we continue to grow.”

Martel credited the county’s success to business and civic leaders working together to drive job growth and secure the future of the area.

“We have a mission and that mission is to make Palm Beach County the best place to do business not only in the state of Florida, but in the country.”

Martel also add his thoughts on why businesses are interested in relocating and expanding in the state of Florida.

“Our recipe is simply a great tax environment and a tradition of low taxes in this state and we continue to stick to that tradition. And, it’s just a fantastic lifestyle.”


Get Involved:

A diverse economy is crucial to Florida’s continued success. Join us at the Future of Florida Forum, September 28-29, in Orlando, where the Florida Chamber Foundation will bring together leaders who are working to secure Florida’s future. Register today.

FDOT Secretary Jim Boxold Discusses Role of Transportation in Florida’s Future

“The challenge for the department is to build a transportation infrastructure that meets Florida’s needs and keeps up with the pace of growth here in Florida.”

Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jim Boxold sat down with Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber Foundation Tony Carvajal recently to discuss what lies ahead for Florida’s transportation system and infrastructure.

“Florida, very clearly, is on the move. We’re on track for 100 million visitors this year. We’ve added over 900,000 jobs over the last four years.”

Secretary Boxold also gave an update on Florida’s transportation plan, which is the visioning document for transportation projects and updates for the next 20+ years. The plan also takes into account advances in technology and how they will affect our state’s transportation system.

The Florida Department of Transportation is responsible for coordinating the planning and development of a safe, viable, and balanced state transportation system that serves all regions of the state, and to assure the compatibility of all components, including multimodal facilities.

“The biggest challenge we have is to provide a transportation system that is safe for all users, whether you are in a car or on a bicycle or a pedestrian…”

Florida’s transportation system includes roadway, air, rail, sea, spaceports, bus transit, and bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Florida also has more than 500,000 jobs in transportation, trade, and logistics – which pay 30 percent more than the statewide average.

Secretary Boxold is a featured speaker for two upcoming Florida Chamber Foundation events: the 2015 Future of Florida Forum and the 2015 Transportation Summit.

Get Involved:

To be part of the statewide conversation on the future of Florida’s transportation system, join us at the Future of Florida Forum, September 28-29, in Orlando.

Chancellor Criser Discusses Role of State Universities in Florida’s Innovation Economy

To help meet Florida’s future workforce needs, state universities are increasing their efforts to communicate with the business community to prepare students to enter high-wage, high skills jobs after graduation. Building these partnerships becomes increasingly important considering Florida’s labor demand in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields has increased by more than 63 percent since 2010. Currently, there are more than 55,000 unfilled STEM jobs in Florida.

Former Chair of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and current State University System of Florida Chancellor Marshall Criser, III recently shared his thoughts on the benefits of state universities working with one another to drive innovation, increase accountability measures, and ensure students are informed before making crucial higher education decisions.

“We have begun a lot of great work in Florida…to become more competitive on a national basis in terms of attracting the kinds of research grants and the funding that will come to those projects so we’re able to grow those programs,” said Chancellor Criser.

Chancellor Criser has been recognized by the Florida Chamber Foundations and other organizations for his efforts to support of Florida’s innovation economy. During the interview, Chancellor Criser also emphasized the connection between a quality education and career opportunities by discussing the new and innovative ways state university students are receiving hands-on workforce experience.

“What we’re seeing as a result of this focus on accountability is a greater use of mentorships, a greater use of internships, and more partnerships with businesses in our communities,” explained Chancellor Criser. “So that our students have a hands-on, face-to-face opportunity to work with businesses.”

“We need to build a greater awareness of what the talent resource is that is coming out of our universities,” said Chancellor Criser. “At the same time, our universities need to continue to listen to the business community in terms of what they expect for the workforce in the future.”

Join the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Innovation Caucus by emailing kelekes@flfoundation.org and let us know what areas interest you the most, from economic diversification, entrepreneurship, and innovation to capital investments, international trade and more.

Get Involved:

Join the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Innovation and Economic Development Caucus by emailing kelekes@flfoundation.org and let us know what areas interest you the most, from economic diversification, entrepreneurism, innovation to capital investments, international trade and more.