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Competitive Workforce Act filed once again in Legislature

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On Thursday, the Florida Competitive Workforce Act was filed again in the Florida Legislature, this time by Rep. Ben Diamond and Rep. Rene Plascenia on the House side, and Sen. Jeff Clemens in the Senate.

House Bill 623/Senate Bill 666 prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Gender expression is not in the current bill.

The FCWA would amend Ch. 760 of the Florida State Statutes (“The Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992“), which bars such discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex national origin, age, handicap, pregnancy, or marital status.

The bill has been filed for multiple years now.

Its first filing was in 2009, and it has slowly but surely gotten traction since.

Florida needs to make sure it stays competitive in a global marketplace,” said Sen. Clemens.

“Recruiting the best-trained, most innovative workforce means eliminating discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations. This makes good business sense, but more importantly, it’s the right thing to do. We need to signal that Florida is the best place in the world for workers and businesses,” Clemens added.

“I am proud to file this bipartisan legislation in the Florida House,” said Rep. Diamond. “Young, well-educated workers are looking for diverse and inclusive communities to build their careers. By modernizing our civil rights laws, we can protect our LGBT community from discrimination, and make Florida a more competitive state in the global economy. That is good for our businesses, our workers, and for all Floridians.”

“This issue is critical to the state’s economic success. It’s imperative that businesses, employees and families know that Florida is open for business,” said Rep. Plasencia. “Florida must remain one of the top places in the nation to live, work and play, and by promising equal opportunity employment, and affirming basic human rights to the LGBT community, we can be confident in continued business growth.”

Yet again, this bill is a bipartisan effort.

In 2016, the FCWA received bipartisan support in the Florida Senate and House, with Republicans like Travis Hutson and Jack Latvala co-sponsoring the bill in the Senate, and Republican Rep. Holly Raschein sponsoring it in the House.

Though the bipartisan support was encouraging to supporters, neither the House nor the Senate bill made it through one committee last session.

The bill died in the Economic Affairs Committee in the House and Judiciary in the Senate.

With uncertainty as to where the Donald Trump administration falls on LGBT rights, and the possibility of a national “religious liberty” executive order emerging, it will be interesting to see if the measure does better this session.

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A.G. Gancarski has written a weekly column for Jacksonville’s Folio Weekly since 2003. His writings on politics, culture, and sport have appeared in the Washington Times, the Daily Caller, and the American Conservative. His radio and TV appearances include frequent contributions to WJCT-FM (Jacksonville’s Public Radio station); additionally, he has been a guest on Huff Post Live and the Savage Nation radio show. Gancarski can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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