Gardiner Scholarship Education Bill Signed Into Law

Governor Rick Scott signed the Florida Chamber-backed Gardiner Scholarship into law, which empowers students with unique abilities to succeed by providing options for high-quality education programs.

The Florida Chamber thanks Senate President Andy Gardiner, Senator Don Gaetz (R-Destin) and Representative Erik Fresen (R-Miami), as well as Florida Chamber members, local chambers of commerce and members of the Florida Chamber’s coalition for their help in this success.

 

What Does This Law Mean for You?

Click here to read our one-pager, which outlines what this law will mean for your business, your employees and your community.

Florida Chamber-Backed Unique Abilities Bill Passes, Heads to Governor For Signature

The Florida Chamber of Commerce applauds the Florida Legislature for today fully passing a Florida Chamber-backed unique abilities bill, The Gardiner Scholarship, that will empower students with intellectual disabilities to succeed by providing options for high quality education programs.

The bill, sponsored by Senator Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) and which now heads to Governor Rick Scott for signature, increases flexibility for parents so they can provide an even more customized education plan for their children through a variety of services and therapies. It also allows more families to participate in this much-needed program by expanding eligibility requirements.

“For people with unique abilities and their families, Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts and Postsecondary Comprehensive Transition Programs represent freedom from a one-size-fits-all system and the opportunity to pursue education and career choices suited to their own unique skills,” said Senate President Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando) in a release.

The Florida Chamber commends Senate President Andy Gardiner, Senator Don Gaetz and Representative Erik Fresen for continuing to secure Florida’s future for students of all abilities.

What’s Next for This Bill

The bill now heads to Governor Scott’s desk to await signature.

Florida Chamber-Backed Unique Abilities Bill Passes; Heads to Governor’s Desk

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

The Gardiner Scholarship Will Empower Students

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (January 14, 2016) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce applauds the Florida Legislature for passing a Florida Chamber-backed unique abilities bill, The Gardiner Scholarship, that will empower students with disabilities to succeed by providing options for high quality education programs.

 

“At the Florida Chamber, we know that every child is different, and every child has unique needs,” said Brittney Hunt, Director of Talent, Education and Quality of Life Policy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “This bill increases flexibility for parents, so that they can provide an even more customized education plan for their children. We are grateful to the legislature for their continued support of a program which has truly become a model for the nation.”

 

As Florida continues on the path to become the number one job-creating state in the nation, Florida has an opportunity to help encourage underemployed Floridians — especially those with unique abilities — to reach their full employment potential.

In fact, a recent report released by the Florida Chamber Foundation shows that more than 700,000 Floridians with disabilities are currently not in the workforce. The results of the report show that not only is the unemployment rate for Floridians with unique abilities substantially higher than the overall unemployment rate, but also the variability of the rates across counties is extremely high.

 

“This bill is a step in the right direction to ensure that students of all abilities are able to succeed and we commend Senate President Andy Gardiner, Senator Don Gaetz and Representative Erik Fresen for their continued support of this issue,” said Hunt.

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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.

More Than 700,000 Floridians with Disabilities Not in the Workforce

Florida Chamber Encourages Meaningful Employment Opportunities for the Disabled and Launches Unique Abilities Internship Program

 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (January 6, 2016) – New research released today by the Florida Chamber Foundation shows a disproportionately high unemployment rate among Floridians with disabilities. As part of the Chamber Foundation’s Florida Scorecard Research Project, this first-of-its-kind research shows more than 700,000 individuals with disabilities are not in Florida’s workforce.

Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Dr. Jerry D. Parrish provided an independent analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey to develop the research results and estimates. According to the report, entitled Quantifying the Unemployment Rate for Workers with Disabilities in Florida, there are:

  • More than 1.13 million Floridians with disabilities between 16 and 65, and
  • Of those, 62.9 percent or more than 700,000 are currently not employed and may want to be part of Florida’s workforce.

The results of the report show that not only is the unemployment rate for Floridians with unique abilities substantially higher than the overall unemployment rate, but also the variability of the rates across counties is extremely high. While the annual average unemployment rate for 2014 was 6.3 percent, the unemployment rate for Floridians with disabilities in the 40 most-populated counties was 18.1 percent.

According to Dr. Susanne Homant, President and CEO of The Able Trust, this groundbreaking data has been a missing piece of important information in measuring progress among Floridians with disabilities.

“Part of the successful growth of Florida’s economy is access to all the talent in Florida and in creating a diverse and inclusive workforce,” Dr. Homant said. “The Chamber Foundation Scorecard Research Project will provide employment data and measure success.”

As a result of the significant disparity in the unemployment rate of persons with disabilities, the Florida Chamber Foundation is taking action by working with partners, including The Able Trust and local Chambers, to launch an internship program that assists Floridians with disabilities in finding meaningful employment opportunities.

“The Florida Chamber wants to do its part to encourage businesses across Florida to create job opportunities for individuals with unique abilities, and we’re pleased to help jumpstart this movement by partnering on the unique abilities internship program,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber Foundation.

The research provided for this report is the first in a series of reports conducted for the Florida Scorecard in an ongoing effort to provide metrics that track Florida’s progress and prepare the state for a more competitive future. The data provided in this report will offer Florida policymakers a new tool to help quantify the amount of progress Florida makes over the next several years in utilizing Floridians with disabilities in our workforce.

“With an additional six million more residents expected by 2030 and two million more jobs to fill, it will be critical to help every Floridian that wants to work find a job,” said Tony Carvajal, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber Foundation.

This research was funded in part by a grant from The Able Trust.

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The Florida Chamber Foundation is the business-led, solutions development and research organization working in partnership with state business leaders to secure Florida’s future. The Foundation’s “Six Pillars” serve as a visioning platform for developing the first-ever, long-term strategic plan for the state. The Foundation’s work focuses on: 1) Talent Supply and Education, 2) Innovation and Economic Development, 3) Infrastructure and Growth Leadership, 4) Business Climate and Competitiveness, 5) Civic and Governance Systems, and 6) Quality of Life and Quality Places. Founded in 1968, the Foundation is a crucial voice for improving the state’s pro-business climate to enable Florida to grow and prosper. Visit www.FLFoundation.org for more information.

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.

Florida Chamber Applauds Passage of Students with Unique Abilities Bill

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

 

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (April 1, 2015) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce today applauds Senate President Andy Gardiner and Senator Don Gaetz on the passage of a bill empowering students with unique abilities to pursue their dreams.

As Florida continues on the path to become the number one job creating state in the nation, Florida has an opportunity to help encourage individuals with unique abilities to reach their full potential. The Florida Chamber has long-championed education reforms for a globally competitive workforce, and SB 602, sponsored by Senator Gaetz (R-Destin) is a top priority for the Florida Chamber.

The Florida Chamber believes that businesses can help unlock talents of individuals with unique abilities. Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber, in an editorial published in newspapers in Florida said:

“Right now, an encouraging conversation is taking place in Tallahassee to help empower individuals with unique abilities to pursue their dreams, and thus provide job creators with a greater ability to unlock an untapped talent pool. And it couldn’t come at a better time. Over the next 15 years, Florida will add six million new residents and need to fill two million new jobs.

“Finding and keeping a talented workforce is among the chief concerns of Florida Chamber member businesses. Broadening the scope from which employees are hired can help expand our existing workforce and provide even greater diversity and access to necessary skills and experience.”

The Florida Chamber Foundation is currently partnering on a research project to learn more about the best practices of hiring persons with unique abilities. Initial findings will be released during the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2015 Education Summit scheduled for June 9. If your company would like to provide input, please email Tracey Lowe at tlowe@flfoundation.org.

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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.

Workers with Unique Abilities Play a Vital Role in Florida’s Workforce

Florida’s economic recovery is well underway.

Since 2010, Florida’s leadership has been focused on jobs.

In fact, Florida Chamber of Commerce members and others have created more than 800,000 private-sector jobs.

As Florida continues on the path to become the No. 1 job-creating state in the nation, Florida has an opportunity to help encourage underemployed Floridians — especially those with unique abilities — to reach their full employment potential.

Over the next 15 years, Florida will add 6 million new residents and need to fill 2 million new jobs.

Finding and keeping a talented workforce is among the chief concerns of Florida Chamber member businesses.

Broadening the scope from which employees are hired can help expand our existing workforce and provide even greater diversity and access to necessary skills and experience.

Typically, individuals with unique abilities struggle with higher unemployment rates.

These so-called “disabilities” come in many stripes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for people with a unique ability was 13.2 percent in 2013, compared with a 7.1 percent unemployment rate for people without what the federal government calls a disability.

Yet leading national reports show that businesses experience increased productivity and above average performance and quality of work simply by employing individuals with unique abilities.

This is something that our partners at the Able Trust have known for years, and they’ve made it their mission to be a key leader in providing Floridians with disabilities opportunities for successful employment.

Leading Florida Chamber members and partners recognize that diverse, talented and dedicated people are critical to their success.

Florida Chamber member Darden Restaurants has also been recognized as a Corporate Champion by Able Trust.

The Florida Chamber Foundation is currently partnering on a research project to learn more about the best practices of hiring persons with unique abilities.

Initial findings will be released during the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2015 Education Summit scheduled for June 9.

To provide input, please email: tlowe@flfoundation.org.

In the meantime, we look forward to advancing the legislative conversation to empower students with unique abilities as they prepare to play a leading role in Florida’s workforce.

Whatever the ZIP Code, whatever the unique ability, free enterprise is a ladder to success for everyone.

 

Mark Wilson, CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce, Tallahassee