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.

Six Legislators in the Panhandle Earned an “A”

The Florida Chamber of Commerce today released the actual grades earned by all members of the House and Senate on the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Report Card. For the panhandle region, six legislators earned “A” grades:

  • Sen. Greg Evers
  • Rep. Doug Broxson
  • Rep. Brad Drake
  • Rep. Mike Hill
  • Rep. Clay Ingram
  • Rep. Jay Trumbull

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. In comparison, 3,384 actual scored votes is approximately 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.

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 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.

Florida Chamber Applauds 9 Lawmakers But Mourns ‘Missed Opportunities’

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has released its annual report card, a list of which lawmakers have found favor with the business group and which fell short.

Eight Senators and one member of the House voted 100 percent in line with the Chamber’s agenda, including a tax cut package and some of the health care bills (though notably not the FHIX plan to subsidize health insurance for the poor).

Perhaps that’s one of the “missed opportunities” Chamber chairman Steve Knopik is referring to in a statement released with the rankings.

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

Here’s which lawmakers cracked the top of the charts with perfect scores:

  • Sen. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne
  • Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker
  • Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah
  • Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando
  • Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville
  • Sen. Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine, who got an extra thumbs-up from the Chamber for his votes in the House before switching chambers in April
  • Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples
  • Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando
  • Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights

Still, there are others the Chamber wasn’t so pleased with. Like House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford of West Palm Beach, who voted with the group just 33 percent of the time.

You can peruse the full list on the Chamber’s website, if that’s your thing.

Florida Chamber’s Report Card Ranks State Lawmakers on Commitment to Pro-Jobs Agenda

Grading state lawmakers on their performances during the regular and special legislative sessions is an annual tradition for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. On Tuesday, the chamber unveiled this year’s Legislative Report Card to show voters which lawmakers were committed to promoting a pro-jobs agenda in 2015.

Due to a tumultuous regular legislative session, this year’s grades reflect fewer scored votes cast than previous years. Both chambers were tied up in an impasse over whether or not to expand Medicaid in Florida, a disagreement which ultimately pushed the Legislature into a special session in June.

“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.

The chamber counted nearly 3,400 votes cast during the 2015 regular and special legislative sessions, approximately just half of the scored votes in previous years. Still, 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.

Legislators were graded for their commitment to the chamber’s agenda for this year’s legislative session. Targeted tax reforms, regulatory reform initiatives, championing education reforms and securing long-term solutions for Florida’s water needs were some of the chamber’s top priorities coming into the 2015 legislative session.

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

Half of Florida’s senators earned an “A” grade, with eight of them (including Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando) earning a perfect “100” score.

House members didn’t fare quite as well as they had done in previous years — only 61 of them earned an “A” this year, a drop from 71 who received the same grade last year.

Two House members, Reps. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, and Matt Hutson, R-Naples, earned a perfect score on this year’s report card.

Other legislators didn’t fare so well on the report card. Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, received the lowest score of all representatives and senators in the Legislature, receiving an overall grade of 33 percent — an “F.”

Several other Democratic representatives also fell toward the bottom of the list, including Reps. Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach, and John Cortes, D-Kissimmee.

Sens. Dwight Bullard, D-Cutler Bay, and Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, fared the worst of all the senators, both receiving “F” grades.

In total, nearly 1,800 bills were filed during this year’s legislative session, with 232 of them passing both chambers. The actual votes used to calculate the report card are those votes that tie directly to the Florida Chamber’s agenda for jobs.

“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.

Check out the full report card and see how your local lawmakers fared here.

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 Legislature Passes Florida Chamber Tax Cut Priorities

Targeted Tax Reform Package Will Help Lower Cost of Living and Doing Business

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (June 15 , 2015) – The Florida Chamber applauds the Florida Legislature for their commitment to lowering the cost of living and cost of doing business in Florida by passing a targeted tax reform package.

“Lawmakers took a positive step today by passing several of the Florida Chamber’s targeted tax reform priorities,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “We commend the House and Senate for their work on negotiating a meaningful tax cut package and we look forward to Governor Rick Scott signing it into law.”

Driving a fair and equitable tax system is key to attracting and retaining businesses in Florida. Limiting burdensome taxes by enacting smart and targeted tax reforms help place money back into the pockets of Florida’s families.

Targeted Tax Reforms Cuts Include:

  • A reduction in the communications services tax (CST),
  • An increase in the research and development tax credit,
  • Extended bonuses in enterprise zones for two years for companies currently receiving bonuses, and
  • Create a 10 day Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday.

The bill now heads to Governor Rick Scott ‘s desk for signature.

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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.

Urge Senators to Fund International Programs

With the Florida Legislative Special Session underway, the Florida Chamber needs your help to advocate for funding for Florida’s international program. This program, ran through Enterprise Florida (EFI), helps small and medium-sized businesses enter or expand into the international market through training and grants.

At the conclusion of the regular session, the House had increased EFI’s international program by $1 million.  The Florida Chamber needs your help to request the Senate to match the House’s budget.

Click the button below to send your Senator an email urging them to consider matching the House’s EFI international program funding proposal.

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Why is This Funding Request Important?

80% of global purchasing power, 92% of economic growth, and 95% of consumers are outside of the USA. Enterprise Florida’s international program helps businesses wishing to expand or enter the international marketplace with marketing plans, counseling, and funding.

The benefits to small and medium businesses that export are significant:

  • Exporting companies have higher employment growth than non-exporting companies
    Fluctuations in the economy impact companies that export less
  • Wages in exporting companies are higher by about 15 percent compared to wages in companies that don’t export

Contact Your Senator Now

Click the button below to send your Senator an email urging them to consider matching the House’s EFI international program funding proposal.

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Florida Chamber Endorses Pro-Jobs, Pro-Business Candidates For Governor, Cabinet and Legislative Primary Races

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

Endorsed Candidates Will Help Create Opportunities
for Families and Small Business

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (July 22, 2014) – Following a comprehensive and deliberative candidate selection process, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today announces candidate endorsements for Governor and Cabinet positions as well as legislative primary races. The endorsements result from one of Florida’s most thorough and well-respected pro-business, pro-jobs candidate review processes.

“Good government can only be obtained by electing candidates who understand Florida’s future needs and who are not afraid to make bold decisions that will get us there,” said Marian Johnson, Senior Vice President of Political Operations for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Interviewing the candidates and finding where they stand on those issues is an absolute necessity before you can make an informed decision about whom to support. Our interview process is thorough and intense, and allows us to understand a candidate’s position before we make an endorsement.”

The Florida Chamber Political Institute (FCPI) held five candidate interview sessions across the state and interviewed more than 100 non-incumbent candidates – in addition to reviewing each candidate’s completed questionnaire. Incumbent candidates were evaluated on numerous factors, including legislator grades on the Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card.

“To create a stable and predictable business climate that helps to create private-sector jobs and grow our state’s economy, we need a legislature that focuses on free enterprise principles and solutions,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber. “We are pleased to support these pro-jobs, pro-business candidates and look forward to mobilizing our employer members and local chamber of commerce partners as well as their more than three million employees with far-reaching grassroots advocacy efforts.”

Below is list of Florida Chamber candidate endorsements for Governor and Cabinet positions as well as legislative primary races.

Governor:

  • Rick Scott

 

Florida Cabinet:

  • Attorney General – Pam Bondi
  • Commissioner of Agriculture – Adam Putnam
  • Chief Financial Officer – Jeff Atwater

 

SENATE – Primary Election Endorsements:

  • John Thrasher (R) – SD 06
  • Thad Altman (R) – SD 16
  • Jack Latvala (R) – SD 20
  • Lizbeth Benacquisto (R) – SD – 30
  • Joe Negron (R) – SD 32
  • Oscar Braynon (D) – SD – 36

 

HOUSE – Primary Election Endorsements:

  • Doug Broxson (R) – HD 03
  • Brad Drake (R) – HD 05
  • Jay Trumbull (R) – HD 06
  • Jason Brodeur (R) – HD 28
  • Robert Cortes (R) – HD 30
  • Terri Seefeldt (R) – HD 31
  • Colleen Burton (R) – HD 40
  • Ricardo Rangel (D) – HD 43
  • Eric Eisnaugle (R) – HD 44
  • Rene Plasencia (R) – HD 49
  • Tom Goodson (R) – HD 50
  • Ed Narain (D) – HD 61
  • James Grant (R) – HD 64
  • Chris Sprowls (R) – HD 65
  • Chris Latvala (R) – HD 67
  • Bill Young (R) – HD 68
  • Julio Gonzalez (R) – HD 74
  • Dane Eagle (R) – HD 77
  • Matt Caldwell (R) – HD 79
  • Kevin Rader (D) – HD 81
  • Ben Sorensen (D) – HD 100
  • Michael Joseph (D) – HD 107
  • Bryan Avila (R) – HD 111

The Florida Chamber will announce additional endorsements in the coming days.

 

 

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