OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Florida Legislature Votes to Enhance Florida’s Competitiveness

 

Download Legislative Summary   Read Our Letter to Legislators

 

Thanks to your tireless advocacy, the Florida Legislature today voted to make Florida more competitive and sent a strong signal nationwide that Florida remains open for business.

Prior to the start of this week’s Special Session, Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson urged legislative leaders to fully fund VISIT FLORIDA’s proven, high-yield tourism marketing efforts with at least $76 million, to provide operational funding for Enterprise Florida, Inc., and to invest at least $85 million in targeted economic development efforts such as infrastructure investment and job training.

 

“Florida’s taxpayers were the big winners of Special Session. By passing Florida Chamber-backed pro-jobs, pro-business legislation, lawmakers today made the most of their opportunity to protect and enhance Florida’s competitiveness, and sent a signal to the country that Florida remains open for business. Lawmaking isn’t always pretty, but just as business owners focus on achieving desired outcomes, not inputs, the outcome here was worth the wait,” said Frank Walker, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Florida Chamber.

 

Legislation Passed on June 9 Includes:

  • Economic Development: Creates and funds at $85 million the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund program for targeted economic development investments, and provides base operation funding necessary for Enterprise Florida, Inc. to continue their work creating jobs and diversifying our economy,
  • Tourism Marketing: Allocates $76 million to fully fund VISIT FLORIDA’s proven tourism marketing efforts with necessary accountability to taxpayers,
  • Drug Free Workplace: Includes Florida Chamber-backed language in the medical marijuana implementation bill preserving employers’ right to insist on a Drug Free Workplace,
  • Education: Increases public education funding by $215 million, and
  • Herbert Hoover Dike: Provides $50 million for overdue repair of the dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee to enhance water storage and quality.

For a more in-depth look at legislation passed during this week’s Special Legislative Session, as well as a reminder of Florida Chamber-backed legislation that passed during the Regular Legislative Session, click here.

The Florida Chamber looks forward to future opportunities to work with lawmakers to stomp out the ‘Homeowners Fraud Tax’ associated with Assignment of Benefit fraud and abuse, to lower workers’ comp rates facing employers, and continued efforts to fully repeal the Florida-only business rent tax.

SPECIAL SESSION 2017-A: Day Two Recap

The Florida Legislature has completed its second day of the 2017-A Special Session. Below are some of the big takeaways from today:

  •   The House version of the economic development and tourism marketing bill was presented on the House floor this morning. The Senate version of the bill was passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting this morning and was again presented on the Senate floor later this afternoon. Both the House and Senate bills are now poised for final passage off their respective floors tomorrow. Key differences between the two bills remain, including:
    • The Senate bill allows tourism development tax dollars to count toward the match requirements for VISIT FLORIDA;
    • The Senate bill expands the definition of infrastructure to include site development and allow skills assessments for inmates under the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund; and
    • The Senate bill adds additional accountability measures and eligibility requirements for the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund program that are not contained within the House bill.
    • Both bills still contain the Florida Chamber priorities outlined in the letter from Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson to Presiding Officers and the Legislature yesterday morning.
  • During this morning’s Senate Appropriations Committee, the Senate’s Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) bill was amended and passed. The amended Senate FEFP bill more closely aligns with the House’s position of not using local property tax dollars to pay for the increase in per student funding. Both the House and Senate versions of the FEFP funding were presented on their respective floors today and are ready for final passage tomorrow.
  • Both bills, however, still contain Florida Chamber-backed language preserving employers’ right to insist on a Drug Free Workplace continues to be included in both the House and Senate legislation on medical marijuana. The House’s bill was presented on the floor this morning and members were given the opportunity to ask questions. The Senate bill was passed out of the Health Policy Committee this morning and presented on the Senate floor later this afternoon and evening. Both the Senate and House bills will be ready for final passage tomorrow.

 

Both the House and Senate are scheduled to be on the floor tomorrow morning to complete their business on economic development and tourism, public education funding, and medical marijuana. Additional hospital funding and potential overrides of vetoed higher education projects, both priorities of the Senate, could be part of last minute negotiations as well.

Unless Special Session 2017-A is extended, a deal will need to be reached between the bodies prior to 6 p.m., which is the official end time provided in the Governor’s proclamation or “call” of special session. As always, the Florida Chamber will continue to keep you informed and advocate for the policies necessary to enhance competitiveness and secure Florida’s future.

SPECIAL SESSION 2017-A: Takeaways From Day One

The Florida Legislature has officially kicked off the 2017-A Special Session. Below are some the big takeaways from day one of Special Session 2017-A:

  • The House Appropriations Committee and Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee passed their respective versions of economic development and tourism marketing bills. Both bills include the three priorities outlined in the letter Mark Wilson sent to members of Legislature yesterday morning.
  • The above Senate bill related to economic programs was scheduled to be heard late yesterday in the Appropriations Committee but was temporarily postponed; it will now be heard in this morning’s Appropriations meeting. The House bill now heads to the House floor.
  • The “call” or scope of Special Session 2017-A was expanded to included medical marijuana. It appears that an agreement on the issue between the House and Senate is close. Florida Chamber-backed language preserving employers’ right to insist on a Drug Free Workplace is included in both the House and Senate legislation. The House’s bill was heard and passed out of a late Health & Human Services meeting yesterday. The Senate bill will be heard in Health Policy this morning.
  • The Senate voted to override a veto of the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP), which is funding for public schools. The Senate’s new FEFP bill will be heard in this morning’s Appropriations meeting. Public school funding is considered “must pass” legislation before the end of the State’s fiscal year on June 30.
  • While House activity has remained more tightly focused on these topics, additional Senate bills were filed on hospital funding, veto overrides and even firearms, as well as a host of amendments to the economic programs legislation.

Today, we can expect another eventful day that could provide greater clarity on the length of Special Session 2017-A, and whether or not it will result in Special Session 2017-B. As indicated above, the Senate will take up its medical marijuana, economic development and tourism, public education and hospital funding bills before going on the floor at 2 p.m. The House is scheduled to be on the floor beginning at 10:30 a.m. As always, the Florida Chamber will continue to keep you informed and advocate for the policies necessary to enhance competitiveness and secure Florida’s future.

Florida Chamber Prepares for Special Session 2017-A

VISIT FLORIDA and Economic Development Bill Poised For Legislative Review

Wednesday, June 7 the Florida Legislature will officially kickoff Special Session 2017-A, and your Florida Chamber of Commerce will be at the Capitol making sure your voices are heard.

The three day Special Session 2017-A was announced last Friday, during a press conference with Governor Rick Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron, to address economic development programs and public education. Under the guidelines contained within the Governor’s proclamation calling for this Special Session, session officially begins at 9:00 a.m. today, Wednesday, June 7 and extends to 6:00 p.m. on Friday, June 9.

During the same press conference last Friday, Governor Scott also announced his intention to veto HB 5501, bad for business legislation that would have cut VISIT FLORIDA funding by two-thirds and eliminated targeted economic incentives under Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) while slashing their operating budget. The Florida Chamber had opposed HB 5501 and fought efforts by members of the House to shutter VISIT FLORIDA and zero out economic development funding during the Regular Session.

Since that announcement, both the Senate and House have filed bills related to economic programs. Both bills include $76 million to fully fund VISIT FLORIDA’s proven, high-yield tourism marketing efforts and  establish the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to be funded at $85 million to promote public infrastructure and individual job training.

As the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Task Force reported earlier this year, infrastructure investment is critical to Florida’s competitiveness and economic growth, and talent is quickly becoming the new economic development tool of choice. Your Florida Chamber team will keep you informed of the Special Session’s progress over the next several days.

How Can You Help?

House and Senate committees are scheduled to meet this afternoon and Thursday morning with the expectation that final floor votes take place prior to the Special Session concluding on Friday. Please make plans to attend and make your voice heard in support of tourism marketing and economic development investments. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Frank Walker.