The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

By: Florida Chamber of Commerce

 

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The Good

While headlines would leave Floridians to believe that little was accomplished during Florida’s annual legislative session, lawmakers did take action on several Florida Chamber-backed pro-jobs, pro-business bills outlined on the Florida Chamber’s Competitiveness Agenda.

This session, the Florida Chamber’s team of 25+ lobbyists testified more than 125 times, tracked more than 5,315 scored votes on the 231 bills that passed, and was joined by 31 local chambers of commerce that traveled to Tallahassee to advocate on behalf of the Florida Business Agenda.

To help #MakeFLMoreCompetitive, the Florida Legislature passed the following Florida Chamber-backed bills:

  • Transportation Network/Ridesharing Companies: Creates a statewide regulatory framework for ridesharing companies that protects consumers and allows for innovation.
  • Cut the Business Rent Tax: Took steps toward fully repealing the Florida-only business rent tax by cutting .2 percent.
  • Research & Development Investments: Provides $18 million in available tax credits for qualifying R&D applications in 2018.
  • Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday: Provides a three-day back-to-school sales tax holiday for families.
  • Talent Supply and Education: Further closed Florida’s talent gap by improving educational opportunities.
  • 5G Technology: Improved data connectivity and service by allowing small cell devices to be placed on certain public utility poles.
  • ADA Lawsuit Abuse Reform: Protected job creators against ADA ‘drive-by lawsuits’ by putting an inspection process and remediation plan in place.
  • 10 Percent Non-Homestead: Provides commercial property owners certainty that their property taxes will not increase in excess of 10 percent in a given year.
  • Triumph Gulf Coast Settlement: Strengthened economic restoration in eight Northwest Florida counties, including tourism marketing investments.
  • Workers’ Comp Public Records: Protects private property information on workers’ comp claims from public record, which also limits information that trial lawyers often use to solicit lawsuits against employers.
  • Solar Energy: Provides homeowners and businesses a property tax exemption on solar and renewable energy devices.

 

The Bad

While Democrats are fighting Republicans in Washington, D.C., in Tallahassee, it’s Republicans fighting Republicans – creating tensions that reflect a republican party in transition. The reality of this partisan and often very public infighting, combined with openly embracing special interests, resulted more on making Florida less competitive.

Throughout the Florida’s annual legislative session, many lawmakers were embroiled in partisan politics, engaged in public infighting and were the subject of statewide headlines describing tensions reflective of a Republican party in transition.

 Politicians passed one of the largest budgets in Florida’s history, yet didn’t lower cost on families and job creators,” said MARK WILSON, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber. “Politicians ignored rising property insurance rates from the Homeowners Fraud Tax resulting from Assignment of Benefits fraud and abuse, they didn’t pass meaningful workers’ compensation reform, they eviscerated Florida’s jobs and economic development programs, and failed to improve Florida’s bottom 10 legal climate which costs the average family $3,400 each year.”

As a result, the Florida Legislature put short-term politics ahead of long-term economic prosperity – making Florida less competitive. Below are missed opportunities to #MakeFLMoreCompetitive.

  • Failed to Fix Florida’s Broken Workers’ Comp System: Job creators face a $1.5 billion increase in workers’ comp rates which will stunt economic opportunities. This 14.5 percent increase also impacts employees who will now have to wait longer to return to work.
  • Failed to Improve Florida’s Bottom 10 Legal Climate: Lawsuit abuse increases the cost of living on families and businesses, creating a $3,400 “tax” for families each year.
  • Failed to Resolve Florida’s Increasing Homeowners AOB Fraud Tax: A refusal to take up and pass a bill to protect consumers from a “Homeowners Fraud Tax” resulting from Assignment of Benefits (AOB) abuse, means homeowners will soon open their insurance bill and discover they are being forced to pay hundreds more – thousands over the next five years.
  • Economic Development Investments: Lawmakers took economic development strategies off the table, damaging Florida’s ability to continue leading the nation in job creation, and sending signals that Florida isn’t interested in creating jobs for families.
  • Tourism Marketing Investments: Lawmakers slashed targeted and proven tourism marketing investments – slamming the brakes on Florida’s amazing job creation success in Florida’s number one economic engine.

 

The Ugly

Strong advocacy from Florida Chamber members, local chambers and partners helped put the brakes on bad legislation that would have made Florida less competitive.

Strong advocacy from Florida Chamber members, local chambers and partners led to the demise of legislation that would have made Florida less competitive. Chief among “no-biz” bills the Florida Chamber stopped are:

  • High Speed Passenger Rail: Pushed back against anti-infrastructure gone wild tactics to stifle innovation and prepare Florida for 26 million more Floridians by 2030.
  • Prejudgment Interest: Stopped a sue-to-settle get rich quick scheme, and defeated the trial lawyer association’s top priority.
  • Insurance Premium Tax Credit: Defeated efforts to eliminate a tax exception that supports jobs in the insurance industry.
  • Gambling Expansion: Continued pushing back against efforts to expand Las Vegas-style casino gambling.
  • Patient Culture Survey: Defeated attempts to use patient surveys as a bargaining chip in employer-employee contractual relationships.
  • Hurricane Catastrophe Fund: Pushed back on attempts to increase the risk of “hurricane taxes” on Florida’s Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.
  • Plastic Bags: Stopped efforts to ban businesses from using plastic bags, even in the storage of perishable foods.
  • Minimum Wage Increase: Put the brakes on additional mandates on job creators.
  • Judicial Term Limits: Stopped a move to decrease the efficacy of Florida’s judicial branch by discouraging good applicants from applying.
  • Private Property Rights: Stood up for businesses wanting to exercise their property right to exclude firearms at their businesses.
  • Mandates on Job Creators: Stopped efforts to increase mandates on job creators related to wages, breastfeeding, plastic bags, and more.
  • Pre-emption: Put the brakes on attempts by local governments to pre-empt regulations on certain businesses.