Florida Chamber of Commerce Applauds Florida Supreme Court For Adopting Higher Expert Witness Standards

Ends Six-Year Court Battle

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (May 23, 2019)— The Florida Chamber of Commerce applauds the Florida Supreme Court for today issuing an opinion adopting Florida’s expert witness standards to the higher Daubert standard, and eliminating junk science from Florida’s court. This is a significant move that ends a six-year old battle in which the previous court’s attempts to undermine the Florida Legislature by keeping in place the weaker Frye standard in place.

“This is an important step forward in improving Florida’s legal climate, and providing predictability in the courtroom, stability for job creators, and greater economic prosperity for Floridians,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

With today’s action, Florida will no longer be an outlier since our state courts will now join the U.S. Supreme Court, all federal courts and most states in using the Daubert standard. Florida courts will now use the same fair and simple standard that implements a multi-faceted test to decide on the admissibility of expert evidence.

The Florida Chamber-backed Daubert standard, was passed by the Florida Legislature in 2013. However, former activist Supreme Court justices refused to adopt the Daubert standard into the Florida Evidence Code.

Due to the mandatory retirement of three justices, Governor Ron DeSantis appointed three new justices. Today’s opinion marks a significant departure from the previous court and signals a court that may help end Florida’s reign as a “judicial hellhole.”

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Established in 1916 as Florida’s first statewide business advocacy organization, 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.

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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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Keep Florida’s Workers’ Comp Working

Florida’s business climate is in jeopardy due to recent Florida Supreme Court decisions that could result in a nearly 20 percent workers’ comp rate increase for Florida job creators. This significant increase could mean the difference between hiring a new employee, increasing employee benefits, or paying higher workers’ comp premiums. Business growth requires workers’ compensation premiums to be fair and not inflated by unnecessary costs. An improved business climate overall will allow Floridians to get back to work and reduce the cost of living for families and small businesses. Lowering the cost of business in our state is what will continue to attract and retain the top industries and professionals, and allow existing businesses to grow.

Keeping our workers’ comp system fair and not inflated by trial lawyer tactics and other unnecessary costs will help lower the cost of doing business in Florida. The Florida Chamber has led the effort to help lower workers’ comp rates by nearly 60 percent in the last 10 years. Workers’ comp rates are now spiraling in the wrong direction, due to cases ruled by the Florida Supreme Court (Castellanos v. Next Door Company and Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg). Workers’ comp rates are proposed to increase by 19.6 percent on October 1. The Castellanos case threw out the current cap on attorneys’ fees and, in this particular instance, the attorney was seeking $38,000 in fees for securing $800 in benefits for the injured worker. Plaintiff attorney maneuvers like we’re seeing with workers’ compensation are reflective of a larger lawsuit abuse problem in Florida. In fact, a national survey released in shows Florida’s lawsuit climate worsening – ranking at an all-time low 44 out of 50 states, or in the bottom 10. And that’s important, because 75 percent of companies surveyed say a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, such as where to locate or whether or not to expand.

With rates going up significantly, the Florida Chamber is leading the effort to mitigate the Florida Supreme Court’s decision before the Legislature. To secure Florida’s future, we must keep Florida’s workers’ comp system working. How would increased workers’ comp rates impact your business? Let us know by contacting Carolyn Johnson.

 

> DOWNLOAD Our Workers’ Compensation One Pager

> JOIN the Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Compensation Task Force

Let’s Keep Florida’s Workers’ Comp System Working

Job creators beware — even though your business’ workers’ compensation rates decreased over recent years, a Florida Supreme Court ruling is reversing that trend — potentially pushing your rates toward the near-record levels of the early 2000s, absent a legislative remedy.

The high court’s recent action threw out Florida’s attorney fee structure — a system that was put into place to stabilize out-of-control workers’ comp rates, which at the time were among the highest in the country. In this particular case, justices agreed that a plaintiff trial lawyer should receive $38,000 in attorney fees for a case in which the injured worker was awarded only $800.

As Florida’s advocate fighting to keep workers’ comp working, the potential impact of the high court’s ruling could threaten Florida’s improving business climate. That’s because job creators now face a 17.1 percent workers’ comp rate increase — a rate filing proposed by the National Council on Compensation Insurance.

In a state in which two of every three jobs is created by small businesses, a rate increase this significant can have a damaging impact on job creation and the economy.

Prior to 2003, Florida’s workers’ comp claims cost on average 40 percent more than the rest of the country when an attorney was involved. It was during 2003 that a united business community joined with the Florida Chamber of Commerce in successfully urging state elected leaders to address cost drivers like outrageous, higher-than-the-national-average plaintiff attorney fees and delays in getting employees the quality health care they needed and deserved.

Those reforms resulted in behavior changes: employees were able to receive important health care to return to work more quickly, while attorney fees became a bit more reasonable.

In the last 13 years, we have led efforts to help lower workers’ comp rates by nearly 60 percent. Cases were settled faster, allowing injured workers to get the benefits they needed, and injured workers returned to work faster on average by 10 days.

At the Florida Chamber, we remain laser-focused on ensuring workers receive quality health care so they can return to work quickly, and that job creators aren’t stuck with a 17.1 percent plaintiff trial lawyer tax on workers’ comp.

We fully anticipated Florida’s activist court would rule in favor of plaintiff trial lawyers, and against workers and job creators.

As a result, our Workers’ Compensation Task Force has been engaging Florida’s highest elected leaders since last year, preparing them for this outcome and working with top legal minds to develop the right solution.

In addition to task force meetings, six regional membership meetings (with more to come) have already taken place, and our local chamber federation is actively engaged — assessing the impact it will have on local businesses, and joining efforts toward solutions.

At the Florida Chamber, we believe that putting job creators and injured workers first is the right thing to do to keep Florida’s workers’ comp system working.

17.1% Workers’ Comp Rate Increase Will Harm Florida’s Economy/Job Growth

Florida Chamber of Commerce Urges State Leaders to Put Small Businesses and Injured Workers Ahead of Personal Injury Trial Lawyers

IF RATE IS APPROVED, FLORIDA WILL HAVE THE HIGHEST RATES IN THE SOUTHEAST 

TALLAHASSEE, FL (May 27, 2016) – With job creators facing a 17.1 percent workers’ compensation rate increase, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today encourages the Florida Legislature to put small businesses and injured workers before personal injury trial lawyers through whatever means necessary.

The recommended 17.1 percent workers’ comp rate increase, announced earlier today by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI,) the industry’s provider of workers’ comp analysis and rates, primarily results from a recent Florida Supreme Court ruling that deemed Florida’s attorney fee provision unconstitutional.

The high court’s April 28th action threw out Florida’s attorney fee structure which was originally established in 2003. The 2003 reforms were put in place to help stabilize out-of-control workers’ comp rates which at the time were the highest in the country, and during the last 13 years have helped lower rates nearly 60 percent.

By putting job creators and injured workers first, lawmakers can help prevent businesses from being forced to pay higher rates, and avoid harming Florida’s growing economy and private-sector job growth. With Florida small businesses creating two of every three jobs, this is particularly important and can help prevent employers from choosing between hiring a new worker or paying increased workers’ comp rates.

“We’ve led efforts for more than 10 years to help lower workers’ comp rates by almost 60 percent, and now that personal injury trial lawyers and an activist court are forcing rates to likely skyrocket, we’re not about to back down,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The Florida Chamber will lead the charge to ensure small businesses aren’t crushed under the weight of increased workers’ comp rates, and that workers’ have access to quality healthcare so they can return quickly back to work.”

The Florida Chamber is actively leading the charge to keep workers’ comp working. In fact, the Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Comp Task Force is preparing a legislative remedy, and is coordinating with the best legal minds, along with communicating with legislative and executive leadership.

The Florida Chamber looks forward to continuing to work with Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature to craft a solution to the Florida Supreme Court’s ill-advised and overreaching attempt to legislate from the bench.

The NCCI rate increase recommendation would take effect August 1, 2016 following approval by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

 

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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 Supreme Court Ruling Bad for Businesses and Jobs

Florida Chamber of Commerce to Lead Efforts to Keep Workers’ Comp Working &
Ensure the Voices of Job Creators Are Heard

 “As Florida’s leading advocate fighting to keep workers’ comp working, the potential impact of the high court’s ruling could threaten Florida’s improving business climate. The Florida Chamber remains laser focused on ensuring workers’ comp rates are fair, and we will lead the effort before lawmakers and in the halls of justice to ensure the voices of job creators are heard.”

– Mark Wilson, President and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce

TALLAHASSEE, FL (April 28, 2016) – Florida’s high court today ruled against job creators in a case that could threaten Florida’s improving business climate and force workers’ compensation rates to increase, the Florida Chamber of Commerce announced today.

Even though business’ workers’ comp rates have continued to decrease, today’s Florida Supreme Court ruling in the Castellanos v. Next Door Company case could potentially push rates toward the near record levels of the early 2000s – levels that forced many Florida businesses to stop hiring and to go out-of-business. Justices ruled that the current attorney fee provision for workers’ comp cases is unconstitutional.

“As Florida’s leading advocate fighting to keep workers’ comp working, the potential impact of the high court’s ruling could threaten Florida’s improving business climate,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

NCCI, the state’s ratemaking agency, will be looking at the impact to workers’ comp rates as a result of today’s decision. The last time the Florida Supreme Court threw out the attorneys’ fee provision, in the Emma Murray case in 2008, rates increased by over six percent.

Just as it led efforts for more than 10 years to help lower rates by almost 60 percent, and fully anticipating an anti-jobs outcome by Florida’s activist court, the Florida Chamber – which filed an Amicus Brief in this case – has already begun leading the charge to once again keep workers’ comp working.

In a letter to Governor Rick Scott, President Andy Gardiner and Speaker Steve Crisafulli, Florida Chamber President Mark Wilson wrote:

“…we have created a short-term task force that has already begun the process of preparing for a legislative response and remedy should the court decide against the legislature and small businesses.”

The Florida Chamber Workers’ Comp Task Force is co-chaired by Debbie Harvey, Chair of the Florida Chamber’s Small Business Council, and Steve Knopik, Immediate Past Chair of the Florida Chamber Board of Directors.

“The Florida Chamber remains laser focused on ensuring workers’ comp rates are fair, and we will lead the effort before lawmakers and in the halls of justice to ensure the voices of job creators are heard,” said Wilson. Click here to read a guest editorial, published in the Pensacola News Journal, on this issue by Wilson.

While the Florida Chamber is disappointed in today’s Castellanos ruling, we applaud their decision to discharge jurisdiction in the Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital. This case had oral arguments earlier this month.

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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.

Attacks Continue on Florida’s Workers’ Comp System

While the Florida Chamber of Commerce continues to monitor the Florida Supreme Court for a decision on the three workers’ compensation cases before the Court, this week a decision was issued by the First District Court of Appeals that is disconcerting for the workers’ comp system.

Miles v City of Edgewater opens the door for other injured parties to hire their own attorneys, and for attorneys to start taking workers’ comp cases on a non-contingency basis. This could increase litigation, increase the amount of awards, and lengthen court battles.

The intent of the workers’ comp attorney fee statute is to prevent unnecessary and drawn out litigation from taking place, and ensure that claims have merit. While the result of the decision in Miles v. City of Edgewater is that the claimant or a third party has the right to contract and pay for an attorney beyond the contingency fee basis, a concern is that attorneys will prey on injured workers to pay their own fees and an increase in meritless lawsuits will occur.

It is unclear yet whether this case will be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, or if this could have an impact on rates. NCCI, the state’s rating agency, will be examining the financial impact of this case in the coming weeks to determine if workers’ comp rates will need to be increased.

Take Action Now

Florida’s business climate is a key factor in businesses expanding and relocating to Florida – that means we must ensure workers’ comp rates remain affordable. The Florida Chamber’s Economic Development Task Force, which will launch in May, will discuss important business climate issues driving business decisions. To learn more and to be part of the conversation, contact Carolyn Johnson at cjohnson@flchamber.com.

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Fourth Workers’ Comp Case

Today, the Florida Supreme Court declined jurisdiction to hear Florida Workers’ Advocates v. State of Florida, a fourth workers’ comp case that had been appealed to the higher court. A lower court, the 11th Circuit Court in Miami, had declared the entire workers’ compensation statute unconstitutional.

Despite today’s victory for the business community, three cases still remain before the Florida Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the workers’ comp system. A decision against the business community in any one of these cases could have a significant impact on rates. The Florida Chamber has filed or noticed friend of the court briefs on the three pending cases before the Court.

Take Action Now

Join our workers’ comp efforts today by contacting cjohnson@flchamber.com.

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

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.

Workers’ Comp Rates Drop Average of 4.7 Percent for 2016

The Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) today approved an average overall rate level decrease of 4.7 percent on workers’ compensation insurance, effective January 1, 2016. This marks the second year in a row that workers’ comp rates have decreased and rates have dropped nearly 60 percent over the last decade, thanks to the work of the Florida Chamber and the business community.

What You Need To Know About Workers’ Comp

While Florida’s workers’ comp rates are moving in the right direction, three pending cases before the Florida Supreme Court could increase workers’ comp rates significantly depending on the decision. Below, we have the Florida Chamber’s latest information on workers’ comp.

Lend your voice- sign our resolution by contacting gblose@flchamber.com.

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.

Employers May Have to Deal With Spooky Rates and Monstrous Expenses

Halloween is around the corner and ghouls in the shape of inflated workers’ compensation costs are waiting to pounce on Florida’s business owners.

Earlier this year, the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), the industry’s provider of workers’ compensation analysis and rates, announced that they are requesting an average 1.9 percent decrease in workers’ compensation rates, effective January 1, 2016. That’s good news.

For the Florida Chamber of Commerce, this recommendation comes at a crucial time for our state.

The Florida Supreme Court is expected to rule on several workers’ comp cases in the very near future, and depending on the outcome of those rulings, job creators could potentially see their business’ workers’ comp rates increase and legislative action could be necessary.

“Plaintiff attorney maneuvers like we’re seeing with workers’ compensation are reflective of a larger legal abuse problem in Florida,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber in a recently released opinion piece, which published in the Miami Herald. “In fact, a national survey released in recent days shows Florida’s lawsuit climate worsening – ranking at an all-time low 44 out of 50 states, the bottom 10.”

Florida’s “judicial hellhole” reputation is catching up and the results could be spooky. Seventy-five percent of companies surveyed say a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, such as where to locate or expand. Florida is open for business, but a dismal and expensive legal climate increases the cost of doing business and deters high-wage jobs creators from even considering our state.

At the Florida Chamber, we remain laser focused on ensuring workers’ comp rates are fair, and remain committed to ensuring the voices of job creators throughout Florida are heard before lawmakers and in the halls of justice. Ensuring injured workers receive quality care and due process is also a priority.

To secure Florida’s future, we must keep Florida’s workers’ comp system working.

Get Involved

Get involved with the Florida Chamber’s Keep Worker’s Comp Working Task Force. Sign up to add your voice to the effort by contacting Greg Blose at gblose@flchamber.com.

BREAKING: Supreme Court to Send Redistricting Back to Lower Court

By: Andrew Wiggins, Senior Director of Campaigns and Elections

Today, the Florida Supreme Court ordered a lower court to hold a hearing in the ongoing legal case involving Florida’s congressional redistricting conundrum.

The ruling came after a request from Leon Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis for the Florida Supreme Court to provide further direction after the Florida Legislature was unable to agree on a congressional district map during a special session last month. Upon the conclusion of that special session, both chambers sent their maps to Judge Lewis.

Under today’s ruling, the House and Senate will now present arguments in support of or in opposition to the proposed map plans. The burden remains on the House and Senate to justify their own configurations.  The trial court subsequently will make a recommendation to the Supreme Court by October 17, as to which map or portions of each map best meets the requirements set by the Supreme Court in its July 9, 2015 opinion ordering new maps to be drawn.

However, in today’s ruling, the Supreme Court offered the opportunity for lawmakers to reconvene and pass new congressional maps, which would then go to the lower court for approval.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merrit Island, said: “Today the court provided a measure of certainty for how we may go forward to adopt a constitutional congressional map, as the voters expect from us. We look forward to further reviewing the order to determine our next steps.”

Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, said the Senate remains open to holding another special session on redistricting.

“The Supreme Court declined the plaintiffs’ request that it draw the congressional map and recognizes that the Legislature still has time to enact a unified congressional plan. This decision has not precluded the opportunity for the House and Senate to draw a map, and each chamber should take advantage of the ample time to address the differences between our respective plans. As we have expressed since the conclusion of the special session, the Senate is willing to reconvene to fulfill our constitutional obligation.”

Also today, the Supreme Court denied the League of Women Voters request to terminate the legislature’s role in redistricting and allow the court to draw its own map. The court ruled congressional redistricting falls first and foremost upon the legislature.

 

BACKGROUND:

In August, the Florida Legislature was tasked with redrawing Florida’s 27 Congressional Districts after the Florida Supreme Court ruled eight districts unconstitutional. A resulting base map made changes to 22 of Florida’s 27 districts – touching most of the state. The two-week session ended without agreement between the two chambers. With no map in hand, lawmakers went to lower court Judge Lewis who sought an opinion from the Florida Supreme Court.

The Florida Chamber will continue to keep you up to date with the latest.

Court Rules In Favor of Job Creators/Against Trial Lawyers

The Third District Court of Appeals today ruled against trial lawyers, and in favor of the Florida Chamber and the state’s business community in a case that will help keep workers’ comp rates fair.

In a closely-watched case, Florida v. Florida Workers Advocates (also called the Padgett case), trial lawyers questioned the constitutionality of Florida’s entire workers’ comp system – claiming that the Florida Legislature has eroded workers’ comp benefits so severely that it should not be an exclusive remedy. In its ruling against the trial lawyers, the court found that Florida Workers Advocates did not have standing, nor was the case “moot.”

The Florida Chamber, in conjunction with our partners at the Florida Justice Reform Institute, filed an Amicus Brief on behalf of Florida’s business community, pointing out that the workers’ comp system should be the sole remedy if a worker is injured.

Ensuring Florida’s workers’ comp system is fair and not inflated by trial lawyer tactics and other unnecessary costs will help lower the cost of doing business in Florida. That’s why the Florida Chamber led the effort to help lower workers’ comp rates by more than 50 percent in the last 10 years.

What’s Next?

If this case is appealed, its next stop would be the Florida Supreme Court. In addition to this case, the Florida Supreme Court has already held oral arguments on two additional workers’ comp cases:

  • Castellanos v. Next Door Company, and
  • Westphal v. City of St Petersburg.

All three cases represent trial lawyers attempting to erode Florida’s workers comp system – an effort that could significantly increase workers’ comp rates.

Join Our Team

The Florida Chamber is committed to defending Florida’s business community against costly trial lawyer tactics and keeping workers’ comp rates low. Add your voice to the growing team of business advocates at the Florida Chamber by emailing cjohnson@flchamber.com.