Join Senator Bill Galvano for a Discussion on Florida’s Future Infrastructure Growth

Creating long-term investments in Florida’s energy, water, transportation, telecommunications, and rural infrastructure is a vital part of effectively preparing for Florida’s future infrastructure needs.

The Florida Chamber’s Infrastructure Coalition, chaired by Ananth Prasad, President-Designate, Florida Transportation Builders Association, is committed to leading this discussion. Join us for a webinar on June 26 where Senator Bill Galvano, Florida Senate President Designate, will share why one of his biggest priorities as Senate President will be Florida’s infrastructure needs.

The Webinar Will Also Feature Discussions About:

  • MOBILITY:
    Opportunities for better integration – leveraging innovation and technology for infrastructure development which improves accessibility.
  • ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY: 
    Advancing the development of rural infrastructure and future corridors that are cross-sector focused – addressing energy, digital and connectivity gaps.
  • COMMERCE:
    Advancing strategic infrastructure investments that support and expand global competitiveness and position Florida as the hub for trade and logistics.

 

Confirmed Speakers:

Get Involved

For more information on the Florida Chamber’s Infrastructure Coalition, click here or contact Alice Ancona at (850) 521-1210 or aancona@flchamber.com.

Florida Chamber Names Senator Bill Galvano as a 2018 Distinguished Advocate

 

Find Your Legislator’s Grade

 

The Florida Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce that Senator Bill Galvano is one of the Florida Chamber’s 2018 Distinguished Advocates for his commitment to championing pro-jobs, pro-business legislation.

“The Florida Chamber of Commerce thanks Senator Bill Galvano for his commitment to protecting Florida’s families and student,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Senator Galvano took initiative to sponsor legislation in the Senate that led to the passing of responsible and necessary school safety measures in response to the Parkland tragedy.”

The Florida Chamber’s Distinguished Advocate award recognizes lawmakers who fought tirelessly for the passage of pro-business legislation – no matter how difficult – and furthered the Florida Chamber’s goals of securing Florida’s future through job creation and economic development.

” I am proud of this recognition and share this award with all of the students and parents who helped champion this historic school safety package. I look forward to working with the Florida Chamber in the years to come on this, and many other issues, that will protect Florida families.” Senator Galvano said.

To view Senator Galvano’s complete grading and district information, click here.

Senator Bill Galvano to Deliver Keynote Address at August 9 Florida International Trade & Investment Conference

 

Register

 

Next President of the Florida Senate Senator Bill Galvano  to Serve as Keynote Speaker for the  Florida International Trade & Investment Conference

The 2017 Florida International Trade & Investment Conference will focus on foreign direct investment strategies, trade and access to international markets. If you are a business leader who participates or would like to participate in Florida’s international trade efforts, do not miss this opportunity to join in this important discussion and unlock the full potential of trade and investment. Register today!

Florida International Trade & Investment Conference
August 9, 2017
Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport
9300 Jeff Fuqua Boulevard
Orlando, Florida 32827

House Strikes Senate’s Expansion of Gambling

Protects Florida’s Family-Friendly Brand

For more than 20 years, the Florida Chamber has opposed the expansion of Las Vegas-style casino gambling and harming Florida’s family-friendly brand. This week’s action by the Florida House sends a message that Florida needs more engineers, physicians and teachers – not more blackjack dealers.

The Florida Chamber has long said that a new state compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida is the best way to limit the expansion of gambling in Florida and contain it to tribal lands. The Florida Chamber strongly supports the House’s proposed gaming compact, sponsored by Representative Mike La Rosa, which holds strong against any further gambling expansion. The Senate’s counterpart legislation, SB 8, which is sponsored by Senator Bill Galvano, called for a vast gambling expansion and was sent to the House following Senate passage last week. Showing strong conviction, Rep. La Rosa struck the Senate’s gaming expansion proposal and replaced it with the much more favorable House bill (HB 7037), which calls for a renewed state compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The House will now send their revised version of SB 8 back to the Senate for consideration, along with a message that protecting Florida’s unique quality of life is a top priority. It is expected the bill will be discussed during conference in the next few weeks.

The Florida Chamber remains steadfast in our support for making Florida more competitive for businesses and families. By supporting the provisions as originally outlined in HB 7037, and now in SB 8, this bill will help ensure Florida’s family-friendly brand continues to play a role in Florida’s long-term economic security.

Take Action Now

For more information about where the Florida Chamber stands on these and other gaming-related issues, click here or contact me at bhunt@flchamber.com.

Ridesharing Bill Passes the Florida House 115-0

Florida’s future depends on embracing new types of industries that use cutting edge, and sometimes disruptive, technologies to provide new services demanded by customers across the state. One such example is the rise of ridesharing companies like Lyft and Uber, which provide tens of millions of trips to communities across Florida. Some local governments have limited the adoption of ridesharing services by passing a patchwork of unneeded regulations. Today, the Florida House passed the Florida Chamber-backed HB 221 by an overwhelming majority. Sponsored by Representative Chris Sprowls, this bill will provide a safe, consistent, and responsible statewide regulatory framework.

HB 221 will now be sent to the Senate, which has successfully moved the companion bill, SB 340, through two committee stops. The Senate measure is sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) and is co-sponsored by: Sen. Frank Artiles (R-Miami), Sen. Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton), Sen. Wilton Simpson (R-Spring Hill), and Sen. Dana Young (R-Tampa).

 

Join the Floridians for Ridesharing Coalition

Ridesharing is quickly becoming an important part of Florida’s economy and our state infrastructure system, so getting it right the first time is crucial for Florida’s future. If you’re interested in joining the Florida Chamber and other business and safety organizations in the Floridians for Ridesharing Coalition.

Learn more about where the Florida Chamber stands on ridesharing and other transportation issues, click here or contact Chris Emmanuel to join our fight for Florida’s future.

Protecting Florida’s Family-Friendly Brand From the Expansion of Gambling

For more than 20 years, the Florida Chamber has opposed the expansion of Las Vegas-style casino gambling and harming Florida’s family-friendly brand.

The Florida Chamber has long said that a new state compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida is the best way to limit the expansion of gambling in Florida and contain it to tribal lands. Therefore, the Florida Chamber supports House Bill 7037, sponsored by Representative Mike LaRosa, which holds strong against any further gambling expansion. Today, HB 7037 passed its final committee of reference and is now poised to be heard by the full House of Representatives.

In contrast, the Florida Senate is calling for a vast gambling expansion. Senate Bill 8, sponsored by Senator Bill Galvano, passed in the full Senate today.

The Florida Chamber remains steadfast in our support for making Florida more competitive for businesses and families, and supporting HB 7037 will help ensure Florida’s family-friendly brand continues to play a role in Florida’s long-term economic security.

Take Action Now

For more information about where the Florida Chamber stands on these and other gaming-related issues, click here or contact me at bhunt@flchamber.com.

Anti-Business Prejudgment Interest Bill Amended, Still Heading to Senate Floor

On March 29, the Florida Senate Rules Committee approved SB 334, sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) by a 10-1 margin. As amended, the anti-business, trial lawyer-backed “prejudgment interest” bill allows interest to be charged on economic damages from the date the injury or tort occurred, not from the date the legal decision was made, as is the current law.

The committee adopted an amendment by Senator Rob Bradley (R-Orange Park) and Sen. Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton), which eliminated language that would have allowed prejudgment interest to be charged for attorney fees and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Despite the amendment’s efforts to more narrowly apply prejudgment interest, the Florida Chamber remains opposed to SB 334. Prejudgment interest will further drive up the cost of personal injury lawsuits against Floridians and force businesses into a “sue-and-settle” position. It also removes existing discretion available to judges and instead mandates prejudgment interest be awarded.

Thank Sen. Latvala

Click here to thank Sen. Jack Latvala, the only Senator to support Florida’s business community by voting AGAINST SB 334 at its most recent committee vote.

Why is “Prejudgment Interest Bad for Businesses?

Watch the video below, and then share it with other business leaders to warn them about the latest sue-and-settle scheme brewing in Tallahassee.

 

What’s Next?

The Senate’s version of the bill, SB 334, will move to a vote on the Senate Floor. The House’s version of the bill, HB 469, has one more committee stop before potentially moving to a vote on the House Floor.

Legislature Puts Students First

Florida Chamber-Backed “Excellence in Higher Education” Legislation Passes 35-1 in Senate Session

A Florida Chamber of Commerce-backed education bill, the Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act, sponsored by Sen. Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton) passed today 35-1 on the Senate floor.

In order for Florida to remain one of the nation’s top business climates, the Florida Chamber believes we must adequately prepare our students to enter the workforce. The Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act, SB 2, will:

  • Establish tuition and fee incentives through a block tuition policy;
  • Promote on-time student graduation;
  • Responsibly increase student financial aid and tuition assistance;
  • Establish a World Class Faculty and Scholar Program;
  • Establish a university professional and graduate degree excellence program to promote the prominence of Florida graduate schools; and
  • Link education to job opportunities by providing internship opportunities to students.

As Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber often says, talent is quickly becoming Florida’s best economic development tool. The Florida Chamber thanks Senate President Joe Negron and the members of the Senate for putting students first.

What’s Next For This Bill?

The Florida House will soon begin discussing its versions of the legislation – which are comprised in House Bill 3 and House Bill 5. Both bills have been referred to the House Post Secondary Education Subcommittee, and are awaiting a hearing date. The Florida Chamber will continue to monitor the progress of this important legislation and keep you updated on any new developments.

Learn more about where the Florida Chamber stands on these and other education issues.

Trial Lawyer Bill Temporarily Halted Thanks to Your Leadership

But the Fight Isn’t Over

Thanks to your leadership, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Florida’s business community today took a stand and, despite a full frontal assault by the trial lawyers, temporarily halted the trial lawyers’ number one legislative priority. And while this is good news, it is only temporary.

Prejudgment interest is the interest accrued as part of a lawsuit from the date of the claim to the time the final judgement is given.

SB 334 would have forced interest to be accrued beginning at the time the loss occurred instead of following the date of judgment. This is especially problematic if delays in court were to occur, all the while accruing interest, and could force companies into settling more court cases to avoid paying additional interest.

Florida already has a bottom-10 legal climate, and bills like prejudgment interest, the trial lawyers’ top priority for the 2017 legislative session, will only increase the costs of Florida’s litigious legal climate and force job creators into a worsening cycle of “sue and settle”.

The Florida Chamber commends Senators Bill Galvano, Wilton Simpson and Jack Latvala for standing strong against special-interests and putting Florida’s jobs creators first.

But while this bill has been halted- it is only temporary. Trial lawyers will continue to fight for this bill and we need you now more than ever.

Share how this bill will impact your ability to create jobs by contacting me at cjohnson@flchamber.com.

Small Businesses Saved from Over Regulation

Last year the Florida Chamber fought back against an emergency rule that would have unnecessarily shifted the burden of pollution notifications to the public, the media and elected officials from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to Florida companies that may not be equipped to handle such requests.

As soon as the rule was public, the Florida Chamber of Commerce led a coalition effort to raise concerns on potential regulatory uncertainty, vague reporting thresholds, and the burdensome media reporting requirement with Florida DEP leadership.

Yesterday, SB 532, filed by Senator Bill Galvano, which would once again ensure the regulated community is not forced to become the regulator when it comes to reporting spills to the public, passed its first committee stop.

The Florida Chamber believes that the core function of the Florida DEP is to use its expertise and judgment to provide appropriate notice and recommendations to the public and we commend the Florida Legislature for making it clear that small businesses should not do the job of the Florida DEP.

The Florida Chamber will continue to closely monitor this issues and provide updates. To learn more, please visit the Florida Chamber’s Water Issue Page.

House-Proposed Gaming Compact Protects Florida’s Family-Friendly Brand

For over twenty years, the Florida Chamber has been opposed to the expansion of gambling in Florida, especially “Las Vegas-style” casinos, as we believe it is contrary to our family friendly brand and not the type of economic development our state needs. It is the Florida Chamber’s belief that a renewed state compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida is the best way to limit the expansion of gambling in the state, by containing it to tribal lands. We must continue to protect Florida’s unique economy and long term potential growth by rejecting any further expansion of gambling in our state.

The Florida Chamber supports House Bill 7037 and its sponsor, Representative Mike LaRosa, for holding strong against any further expansion of gambling in Florida. The House’s bill stands in contrast to Senate Bill 8, which is sponsored by Senator Bill Galvano and calls for a vast expansion of slot machines and gaming. Both the House and Senate gambling bills were passed out of their respective committees last week. SB 8’s next stop is the Senate floor, whereas HB 7037 has not received its next committee reference yet.

As it has for more than two decades, the Florida Chamber will continue fighting to protect our family-friendly brand by opposing the expansion of Las Vegas-style casino gambling, as is done in SB 8, while continuing to advocate for a renewed Seminole Gaming Compact, as is done in HB 7037.

 

Take Action Now

Click here for more information on the Florida Chamber’s 20-year opposition to gambling expansion in Florida, or contact me at bhunt@flchamber.com.

“Excellence in Higher Education” Legislation Passes Final Senate Committee

Florida Chamber backed Senate Bill 2, the Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act, and Senate Bill 4, Faculty Recruitment, both sponsored by Sen. Bill Galvano, were merged today and passed as a package through the Senate Committee on Appropriations. Having passed all three committees of reference, SB 2 is available for consideration on the Senate floor during the first week of the 2017 Legislative Session, which begins on March 7.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce believes that talent is quickly becoming Florida’s best economic development tool. In order for Florida to remain one of the nation’s top business climates, we must be adequately preparing our students to enter the workforce. The Florida Chamber supports creating a talent pool that can meet the needs of job creators and be ready to face the disruptive forces in our future job market. Senate Bills 2 and 4 will help keep our University and College Systems nationally competitive and ensure that the students who attend them receive the best return on their investments.

SB 2, Sen. Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton)

By merging the components of both bills into one, Senate Bill 2 now promotes on-time student graduation while responsibly increasing student financial aid and tuition assistance. Additionally, a world-class faculty and scholar program is established, which promotes the prominence of Florida’s graduate schools and links education to job opportunities by providing internship opportunities to students.

What’s Next For This Bill?

Click here to learn more about where the Florida Chamber stands on these and other education issues.

The Florida Chamber Testifies for Better Higher Education Opportunities

During the second committee week of the 2017 legislative session, Brittney Hunt, Director of Talent, Education and Quality of Life Policy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, testified before the Senate Education Committee in support of quality higher education opportunities for students.

“Providing greater access to post-secondary education and identifying and closing the skills gap are some of our top priorities and the Florida chamber is proud to support SB 2 and SB 4,” said BRITTNEY HUNT. “Florida must be adequately preparing our students to enter the workforce, as well as focusing on attracting and retaining world class talent.”

In fact, Florida Jobs 2030 (being released next week) is a research report from the Florida Chamber Foundation that will analyze gaps between what the jobs of the year 2030 will look like, and what skills will be required to succeed.

“Students will need to be prepared for the future, and the Florida Chamber thanks Senate President Joe Negron and Senator Bill Galvano for making higher education and closing the skills gap a main focus of their education conversations,” said HUNT.

What’s next for these bills?

Workers’ Comp Rate Finalized and Total Costs Resulting From Court Rulings to Top $1.5 Billion

Tallahassee, Fla. (Oct. 4, 2016) – A workers’ compensation rate increase finalized today will top more than $1.5 billion, and force Florida job creators to pay higher premiums designed to  benefit billboard trial lawyers – not injured workers, the Florida Chamber of Commerce said.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) today accepted the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation’s recommended 14.5 percent workers’ comp rate increase, and took necessary steps to begin assessing the increased rates on December 1 for new and renewal policies.

“Job creators across Florida will now be forced to pick up a $1.5 billion tab that, disturbingly is not about employee safety or protecting workers – it’s about increasing compensation for plaintiff trial lawyers,” said MARK WILSON, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

“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,” WILSON added.

ICYMI: Let’s fix workers’ comp in Florida. (Tampa Bay Times, September 30, 2016)

The 14.5 percent workers’ comp rate increase follows two Florida Supreme Court decisions declaring portions of Florida’s workers’ comp system unconstitutional. In one case in particular, the plaintiff argued that the plaintiff trial lawyer should receive $38,000 in attorney fees for a case in which the injured worker was awarded only $800. That’s $800 for the injured worker and $38,000 for the trial lawyer. This accounts for nearly two-thirds of the rate increase.

Last week during the Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum, Senator Bill Galvano and Representative Kathleen Passidomo discussed this issue with Florida Chamber Workers’ Comp Task Force Co-Chair Steve Knopik, CEO of Bealls, on the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line.

“It’s important that we educate the new members in the legislature who maybe didn’t live through those reforms (2003 reforms) at that time, make sure that the voice of the Florida Chamber is heard in those deliberations and make sure you understand who the decision makers are in that process,” said SENATOR GALVANO.

“I think it’s important that we hit it early on, look at it globally, make the change that needs to be made, and it’s not redoing the entire statute, but addressing the Supreme Court’s rulings and do it as soon as possible,” said REPRESENTATIVE PASSIDOMO.

The Florida Chamber has a long history of helping to keep Florida’s workers’ comp system working. As a result, workers’ comp rates lowered by more than 60 percent in the last 13 years, and injured workers returned to work 10 days faster. Those efforts continue today with the Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Compensation Task Force which is working to secure a legislative fix.

 

# # #

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.