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.

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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House Approves Florida Chamber Priorities in House Tax Reform Package

The Florida House Finance and Tax Committee passed a $436 million tax cut package today, which included the following important Florida Chamber priorities:

  • Communication Services Tax cut,
  • Reducing sales taxes on commercial leases,
  • Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday,
  • Small Business Saturday Tax Holiday, and
  • Research and Development tax cut.

Florida Chamber Executive Vice President David Hart testified before the committee this morning emphasizing the Florida Chamber’s support of the plan and urging lawmakers to consider dedicating more funds to targeted tax reform. In fact, according to a new Florida Chamber poll, 72 percent of voters support a reduction of the Communication Services Tax.

The House tax relief package was approximately $690 million during the Regular Session, but has since been reduced to approximately $436 million because of budget concerns stemming from other issues, such as healthcare reform.

Florida Chamber Executive Vice President David Hart testifies in support of Florida Chamber targeted tax reform priorities at the House Finance and Tax Committee on June 2, 2015.

Today’s passage of the House Finance and Tax Committee’s tax relief package (HB 33-A) is just the first step, however, as the entire House and Senate must ultimately agree on the content and amount of such legislation during the Special Session.

The Florida Chamber is pleased with today’s vote and will continue to advocate for targeted tax reform that puts money back into the pockets for Florida’s small businesses and families. We will share updates and insights on this subject in the near future.

More Targeted Tax Reforms:

Click here to learn more about what the Florida Chamber is doing to make Florida more competitive via targeted tax cuts.

Urge Your Legislators to Support Healthcare Reform

As the Florida Legislature convenes for the Special Session, lawmakers will discuss healthcare reform.

The Florida Chamber’s Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan is the most comprehensive plan available that will reduce healthcare costs, improve access to healthcare for uninsured Floridians, improve quality of care and end the expensive cost-shift resulting in insured Floridians paying approximately $2,000 more per visit to cover the cost of the uninsured.

Contact your legislators now and urge them to consider the Florida Chamber’s Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan.

Watch The Video, Read the Plan:

Watch our short healthcare video that helps tell the story of why this issue is important to Floridians, then find out why the Florida Chamber’s recommendations will result in smarter healthcare coverage for Florida.

 

Florida Chamber’s Targeted Tax Reforms Include Communications Service Tax Cut

As Florida lawmakers prepare for the June 1-20 special legislative session to pass a balanced budget, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is encouraging legislators to also lower the cost of living and the cost of doing business through targeted tax reforms.

“Special session has a lot on the table, including the creation of a state budget and the chance for meaningful healthcare reform,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The Florida Chamber is optimistic that the Florida Legislature can work through these items and still pass targeted tax reforms that will put money back in the pockets of Floridians and make Florida even more competitive.”

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 helps place money back into the pockets of Florida’s families.

For a more competitive Florida, the Florida Chamber supports the following targeted tax reforms:

  • Communications Service Tax (CST) cut,
  • Reducing sales taxes on commercial leases,
  • Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday,
  • Small Business Saturday Tax Holiday,
  • Research and Development tax cuts,
  • Defense contracting tax credit.

    “The Florida legislature has the important responsibility of crafting the state budget during the special session, but also has a great opportunity to reduce taxes for Florida’s families and businesses,” said Dennis Grady, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches. “This opportunity can not only put additional money in the pockets of hard working families, but could mean the difference in job creation and business expansion. Our Florida economy is at its best when the legislature returns tax payer dollars to those who could use it the most.”

Florida Chamber members and partners look forward to working with lawmakers during the special session to help ensure targeted tax reforms can further help attract and retain jobs.

Take Action Now

How will targeted tax reforms help your business grow? Share your story by emailing me at cjohnson@flchamber.com.

Florida Chamber’s Targeted Tax Reforms Will Lower Cost of Living and Cost of Doing Business

As Florida lawmakers prepare for the June 1-20 special legislative session to pass a balanced budget, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is encouraging legislators to also lower the cost of living and the cost of doing business through targeted tax reforms.

“Special session has a lot on the table, including the creation of a state budget and the chance for meaningful healthcare reform,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The Florida Chamber is optimistic that the Florida Legislature can work through these items and still pass targeted tax reforms that will put money back in the pockets of Floridians and make Florida even more competitive.”

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 helps place money back into the pockets of Florida’s families.

For a more competitive Florida, the Florida Chamber supports the following targeted tax reforms:

  • Communications Service Tax (CST) cut,
  • Reducing sales taxes on commercial leases,
  • Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday,
  • Small Business Saturday Tax Holiday,
  • Research and Development tax cuts,
  • Defense contracting tax credit.

    “The Florida legislature has the important responsibility of crafting the state budget during the special session, but also has a great opportunity to reduce taxes for Florida’s families and businesses,” said Dennis Grady, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches. “This opportunity can not only put additional money in the pockets of hard working families, but could mean the difference in job creation and business expansion. Our Florida economy is at its best when the legislature returns tax payer dollars to those who could use it the most.”

Florida Chamber members and partners look forward to working with lawmakers during the special session to help ensure targeted tax reforms can further help attract and retain jobs.

Take Action Now

How will targeted tax reforms help your business grow? Share your story by emailing me at cjohnson@flchamber.com.

Florida’s Upcoming Special Session Offers Second Chance to Make Florida More Competitive

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Edie Ousley, 850-521-1231 or 850-251-6261
eousley@flchamber.com

 

The Florida Legislature now has until July 1 to reconvene and pass a budget.
The session could include all, none, or some combination of
the items that were in play during the regular session.

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (May 1, 2015) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce today announced that, while disappointed the 2015 regular session did not produce the anticipated results, the upcoming special legislative session will offer a second chance to make Florida more competitive.

“A special session, or several sessions, brings the hope that legislators can hit the reset button and pick up the business of making Florida more competitive,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber.

As media has widely reported, the Florida House and Senate remained $4.2 billion apart on their proposed budgets – primarily due to differing views on approaches to expanding healthcare coverage. As a consequence, lawmakers did not achieve their one constitutional duty of passing a balanced budget during the 60-day regular legislative session.

As a result, lawmakers will have a second chance to pass a budget during a special legislative session – which is constitutionally required before July 1. During that time, the Florida Chamber is hopeful lawmakers will make Florida more competitive by passing a budget that includes:

As Winston Churchill said:  “A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

“The Florida Chamber encourages our state’s leaders to rally around a common bipartisan cause – and that cause is stronger and sustainable economic growth in order to expand opportunities for all Floridians,” Wilson added.

The Florida Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Summary outlines priorities from the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Competitiveness Agenda that passed during the recently completed regular legislative session, including the Florida Chamber-backed education accountability bill (signed into law by Governor Scott), a smart infrastructure bill designating freight and logistics zones, a growth leadership measure and private property rights bill.

Florida Chamber’s 2015 Competitiveness Agenda was developed based on input from Florida Chamber members, local chambers of commerce, partner associations, research, and unfinished business. The chamber’s agenda serves as a blueprint of legislative priorities that help secure Florida’s future and lead Florida to a new and sustainable economy.

 

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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.

Dr. Ed Moore Discusses Special Session on Bottom Line

As lawmakers plan to reset, Dr. Ed Moore, President of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, a Florida Chamber Foundation Trustee, and Florida historian shares insight on the intricacies of the current legislative debate and special sessions.

A special session means legislators will be called back to handle the $4.2 billion budget difference.

According to Florida’s legislative history, special sessions are not uncommon. According to Dr. Moore, in 2009 the Florida Legislature extended for a week, in 2003 there were five special sessions that ran into the first week of August and in 1987 there were seven special sessions.

“The only thing unique about this week is that every session is unique and every one ends differently,” says Dr. Moore. “Some of them end with a ‘Kumbaya‘ and everybody loves each other and some of them end where the two sergeants go out and drop the hankies to signify sine die and nobody else is there— we’ve seen those as well. Back when Mike Haridopolos was Senate President and Dean Cannon was Speaker, the House went home and left the Senate there to do whatever they wanted to do because it didn’t matter anymore. So you see all kinds of endings here.”

But among issues like a deeply divided budget, there’s an additional player on the scene: the federal government.

“I think the federal government kind of overplayed their hand,” says Dr. Moore. “The House’s main concern throughout all this is that the feds are beginning to have too much influence. Federal money is about one-third of the budget and they [the feds] were going to be more pushy about how they spend that federal money. So what’s the first thing the federal government does? They get very pushy about the federal money and they say, ‘no we want you do this, in order to fund that.’ That kind of played into the argument where they [the House] go, ‘see this is where we are going to be if we don’t get this resolved now.’”