Senator Jeff Brandes Calls for Narrowing the Use of Contingency Fee Multipliers – the “Slot Machine” for the Legal Profession – on the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line

TALLAHASSEE, FL (February 21, 2020) – As the Florida Legislature tackles narrowing the use of contingency fee multipliers, Senator Jeff Brandes tells the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line that these fee escalators were never designed to be “the slot machines for the legal profession.”

In fact, contingency fee multipliers, which are used by trial lawyers to get legal fees two or three times higher than their normal, hourly rate, are only granted in “rare and exceptional” circumstances everywhere but Florida.

“We’re trying to level the playing field and set the standards as where it is in the rest of the 49 states and the federal standard,” Brandes explains.

Florida’s bottom five legal climate is costing the average family $4,442 each year in lawsuit abuse ‘taxes.’ Lawsuit abuse reform is a top legislative priority for the Florida Chamber.

Senator Brandes also discusses criminal justice reform as well as the future of innovation and disruptive technologies.

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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.

Sen. Jeff Brandes Discusses Diversifying Florida’s Economy on Bottom Line

Florida will continue to grow at a steady pace- in fact, between now and 2030 it’s estimated that there will be approximately 4-5 million new drivers on the road. Our state has a unique opportunity to meet challenges head on, like issues from infrastructure investments, building an innovation economy, ensuring we can diversify our economy and creating solar options for Floridians that make sense.

Click the video below to hear Sen. Jeff Brandes, 2016 Florida Chamber Honor Roll recipient, discuss these issues and more.

Want to hear more from Senator Brandes on military, defense and veteran opportunities? He will be a speaker at our annual Florida Chamber Foundation Military, Defense & Veterans Opportunities Summit on August 17 in St. Petersburg Florida. Click here to register or to learn more about the event.

Military & Defense Industry Contributes Nearly $80 Billion to Florida’s Economy

Florida’s military and defense industry not only keeps us safe, it also drives the state’s economic growth by contributing an estimated $79.8 billion to the economy and providing nearly 775,000 jobs for Floridians each year. Every business in Florida is within 100 miles of a military installation, providing growth opportunities for defense companies and creating a robust network of businesses in the military and defense supply chain. Is your job tied to the military economy?

As highlighted in a recent Florida Wins video, Florida’s military and defense industry not only creates high-wage, high skill jobs, it attracts some of the world’s leading innovators to create new products that improve our daily lives and advance the state’s innovation economy. With the industry’s total economic impact expected to grow to $100 billion a year by 2030, how will we ensure continued support of this vital sector?

Cancer is the Leading Cause of Death In Florida

Cancer affects us all. But for the more than 325,000 Floridians battling cancer each year, Florida offers an ideal location for treatment. With 720 hospitals, more than 45,000 healthcare centers and designated Cancer Centers of Excellence, patients from all over the world can capitalize on Florida’s oncology expertise and cutting-edge treatment options.

Florida is also a leader in medical innovation, with leading research institutes and R&D establishments developing robotic technology, proton therapy, state-of-the-art radiation systems and drug protocols to treat and cure cancer. With all the improvements to treatment options, can you imagine a future without cancer?

Get Involved:

To add your voice to the conversation on medical innovations and the health of Florida’s population, join the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Health and Wellness Caucus today.

Telemedicine Could Save Floridians More Than $1 Billion a Year

Telemedicine is the new frontier in healthcare innovation, allowing healthcare personnel to provide medical consultations through electronic communication instead of in-person visits and improving quality patient care, treatment, education and services. In addition to saving lives, telemedicine has the potential to save Florida taxpayers more than $1 billion a year in costly medical interventions and emergency room visits.

While telemedicine can benefit everyone by reducing travel time and related stresses for the patient, it is particularly helpful for patients with mobility issues, those located in rural areas, and patients of advanced age. With Florida’s aging population estimated to grow to 24 percent in 2030 and a potential doctor shortage expected by 2025, telemedicine can help bridge the gap between the growing number of patients and the decreasing supply of doctors. Does your community have the infrastructure needed to support telemedicine?

Get Involved

To add your voice to the conversation on telemedicine and healthcare, join the Health & Wellness Caucus today.

Florida Chamber Backed R&D Tax Credit Made Permanent

Late last week, Congress negotiated the annual “tax extenders” package which extends a number of tax credits for businesses and families for the 2015 tax year – including the research and development tax credit. The final bill extended the federal R&D Tax Credit indefinitely, instead of the one year extension that has been passed in years past. This bill was signed by President Obama on Friday.

What This Means:

Florida’s R&D Tax Credit is tied to the federal R&D Tax Credit, meaning in years the federal R&D Tax Credit lapsed, companies in Florida performing qualified R&D would not receive the Florida credit either. Making the federal R&D Tax Credit permanent creates predictability for companies performing research and allows companies to qualify for a single set of standards – both at the federal and state level – to receive tax credits for research and development.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce encouraged reforms to Florida’s R&D Tax Credit earlier this year, and lawmakers passed them during the 2015 Legislative Special Session A. The amount available for tax credits for the 2015 tax year is $23 million, with a weeklong application period opening on March 20, 2016. If the amount in tax credits applied for exceeds the $23 million cap, tax credits will be allocated on a prorated basis. After this year, Florida’s R&D Tax Credit will be capped at $9 million, unless legislative action again increases the cap. The Florida Chamber testified last month before the Florida House Finance & Tax Committee about the need to support future innovation by permanently increasing the R&D Tax Credit cap from $9 million to $23 million.

Did You Know Florida’s Social Entrepreneurs are Changing Lives

If you’re not yet familiar with the term social entrepreneurship, you will be soon. Social entrepreneurs are both visionaries and ultimate realists that transform ideas into action, becoming agents of large-scale change and finding creative solutions to future problems instead of relying on the government. There are a growing number of social entrepreneurs living in our own back yards, devoting themselves to a cause and building a generation of innovators who use their skills and passion to improve the world around them.

A perfect example of this is Limbitless Solutions of Orlando, a non-profit organization that provides bionic limbs at no cost for children in need. The company, which was recently featured at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Future of Florida Forum, uses open source 3D printing technology at high schools all over the country in order to change the lives of families in our state. Limbitless founder and University of Central Florida graduate and Ph.D. candidate, Albert Manero, was recently presented with Volunteer Florida’s Champion of Service Award at the December meeting of the Florida Cabinet.

Tell Us the Good News Stories You Are Seeing:

What social entrepreneurship programs have you seen in your community and how are they enacting change? Share your story by emailing the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Chief Economist Dr. Jerry D. Parrish at jparrish@flfoundation.org.

Did You Know Florida is Considered a Leader in Innovation?

Florida was recently named an Innovation Leader by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), producer of the world’s largest Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Florida earned high marks in the areas of right to work, tax friendliness, entrepreneurial activity and innovation momentum and lower marks in the areas of technology workforce, investment attraction and STEM degree graduates.

The same opportunities for improvement will be discussed in a joint report issued by the Florida Chamber Foundation and Florida Research Consortium. “Blueprint for Florida’s Innovation Economy” will focus on diversifying industries and developing a stronger innovation economy through growing high-tech, high-wage jobs; increasing investment capital for new and emerging businesses; and training and retaining Florida university graduates in STEM fields.

“In the future, Floridians have tremendous potential to improve the economy of our great state by nurturing historic drivers like tourism, agriculture and construction and by enhancing our focus on the drivers of technology, knowledge and innovation,” said Randy Berridge, President of the Florida High Tech Corridor. “To achieve success in both segments, Florida leaders need to concentrate on attracting, retaining and growing talent.”

Harris’ Innovation: Keeping Floridians Safe

Education, innovation, infrastructure and quality of life are all key pillars making Florida’s business climate more competitive.

Each is essential to growing private-sector jobs, Florida’s economy, and creating greater opportunities for families and small businesses.

A stronger, more competitive Florida encourages job creators to grow and reinvest in their communities. In my experience, one great example of a good corporate citizen reinvesting in communities across Florida is Melbourne-based Harris Corp. – a Central Florida technology company employing more than 6,500 Floridians.

Each year, Harris does $230 million worth of business with Florida suppliers and contributes $1 billion to our state economy. In the last three years, Harris has donated more than $4.5 million to community and education organizations — raising more than $1 million each year for United Way and volunteering more than 300,000 hours.

And, while you and I go about our daily lives — sending our children off to school, working, taking the dog for a walk, resting — Harris’ top-of-the line communications system helps ensure we remain safe. Of the many fields for which Harris designs communication systems, the company is an important partner to Florida’s law enforcement community, providing radios and networks that ensure a lifeline for officers in the field.

While these products help protect us, they are also a contributing factor to Florida’s top-quality business climate. Why? Because businesses looking to grow and add jobs, as well as companies looking to move their company and their jobs into Florida, want to feel safe and know they can count on the protection of law enforcement, should the need arise.

Since 2000, Harris has provided technical communications services, like engineering expertise, to the State Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) – a network of communication and radios from Pensacola to Key West, as well as 7,000 state first-responders. In fact, Harris is slated to provide this technical expertise to run the SLERS system through 2021.

SLERS has been reliable through hurricanes and natural disasters, but as new technologies have emerged, law enforcement officers have said they require the newest in law enforcement communication systems. That’s where the Project 25 system, or P25, comes in. P25 is a digital network that provides increased interoperability between agencies, encrypted communications for responders and the most technologically advanced radios that allow officers to securely talk and provide each other help in dangerous situations.

Providing law enforcement tools they need now, instead of waiting until 2021, simply makes sense. Floridians want the comfort of knowing that law enforcement will have the tools they need to respond, and protect families and businesses. Waiting six years until a contract expires to upgrade law enforcement radio system technology could jeopardize both law enforcement officers in the line of duty as well as those they are protecting.

Ensuring Florida’s law enforcement community has the most innovative and up-to-date technology to protect Floridians is essential. With Harris and the P25 system, we can ensure this equipment is made in Florida – keeping Floridians employed, growing Florida’s economy and creating more opportunities for families and small businesses.

Mark Wilson is president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at mwilson@flchamber.com.

 

Florida Chamber Foundation Announces Chair of Innovation Research Report

The Florida Chamber Foundation and the Florida Research Consortium have partnered to develop a research report addressing the future of Florida’s innovation economy ecosystem. “Blueprint for an Innovation Economy in Florida” will assess the impact of expanding innovation activity on Florida’s economy and create a roadmap for state-level policy and investments.

J. Charles “Charlie” Gray, Chairman of the Board and Founding Director of GrayRobinson law firm, has been selected to serve as co-chair of the report. Gray will provide counsel and guidance on research activities and lead the rollout of the report, which is expected to be released in October 2015.

“Charlie Gray has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to improving Florida’s economy through innovation,” said Tony Carvajal, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber Foundation. “His history of success as a business and civic leader make him the perfect choice for co-chairing this report.”

As a business-led, solutions development and research organization dedicated to securing Florida’s future, the Florida Chamber Foundation has had a long and successful history of partnering on a number of important studies such as “Florida Trade & Logistics Study 2.0,” “Closing the Talent Gap” and others. “Blueprint for an Innovation Economy in Florida” will be a vital component of the Chamber Foundation’s upcoming Cornerstone 2030 strategic plan to shape Florida’s future economy.

“I am honored to be a part of this important project,” said Gray. “This report will provide recommendations on how to expand Florida’s innovation economy and propel our state’s investment in advanced technology research.”

We invite leaders in the fields of business, technology, venture capital and education to join us in our effort to improve Florida’s innovation economy. If you are interested in contributing your expertise or support, please contact jparrish@flfoundation.org.

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.