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Associated Industries announces Champions for Business awards

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Sixteen Florida legislators from across the state are among a prestigious group of elected leaders selected by Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) as 2010 Champions for Business. The awards are annually presented to leaders who have proven to be strong and forceful advocates for Florida’s business community. Champions for Business are chosen for their support of meaningful and often controversial pro-business legislation that benefits employers and their workers. Established by AIF in 2003, the awards program was created to acknowledge the efforts of lawmakers who sponsored and defended pro-business bills, as well as those who worked behind-the-scenes on legislation critical to the prosperity of Florida businesses.

“This is the largest class of Champion for Business and Council awards winners in the program’s history, and reflects this session’s overall positive results and legislative victories for Florida business community,” said Barney Bishop III, president and CEO of AIF.  “Florida lawmakers rolled up their sleeves and got to work immediately by passing critical unemployment compensation tax relief on the very first day of session and remained focused on preserving and creating jobs throughout the remaining 59 days.  AIF is proud to honor these lawmakers for their leadership, vision and advocacy on behalf of Florida businesses.”

Among their good works, recipients of this year’s awards successfully advocated for measures that will create jobs, help Florida maintain its position as a leader in the space industry, and aid Florida businesses struggling to keep up with rising unemployment compensation costs.  The 2010 award winners are:

Senate President Jeff Atwater (R-North Palm Beach) – Receiving his third Champion for Business award this year, President Atwater was instrumental in passing sweeping tort reform legislation that ensures Florida businesses are not unfairly targeted or burdened by frivolous claims.
Sen. Thad Altman (R-Melbourne) – A two-time Champion for Business award winner, Sen. Altman continues to be an ardent advocate of Florida’s space industry.  This year, he advanced legislation that provided Space Florida with the resources needed to retain or create high-tech jobs and allocated funds for a variety of space infrastructure projects.
Sen. Rudy Garcia (R-Miami) – Sen. Garcia earns his first Champion for Business award for his sponsorship of the critical Unemployment Compensation Tax Relief legislation, which will help Florida businesses remain open and Floridians employed by reducing the burden of excessive unemployment compensation taxes on business owners.
Sen. Mike Haridopolos (R-Melbourne) – A consistent defender of the business community and multiple Champion for Business award winner, Sen. Haridopolos is recognized this year for his leadership and role in passing the comprehensive “Jobs for Florida” package that will spark job growth through tax credit and incentive programs that encourage businesses to hire unemployed Floridians. Additionally, Sen. Haridopolos is recognized for his “Dynamic Scoring” legislation, which enables lawmakers to consider potential revenue enhancements, as well as costs to the state, when setting policy.
Sen. Garrett Richter (R-Naples) – For the second year in a row, Sen. Richter is recognized with a Champion for Business award for his efforts to improve the state’s property insurance market.  This year, he helped pass legislation that caps filing claims and helps prevent abuse by some public adjustors.
Sen. John Thrasher (R-Jacksonville) – After his return to political office and first year in the Senate, Sen. Thrasher is receiving his first Champion for Business award for his sponsorship of SB 6 – bold education reform that would have increased classroom accountability and ensured Florida’s teachers were compensated based on performance if not vetoed by the governor.
Speaker of the House Larry Cretul (R-Ocala) – Speaker Cretul demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to the business community by effectively working with Senate leadership to pass the much-needed Unemployment Compensation Tax Relief legislation on the first day of the legislative session.
Rep. Dean Cannon (R-Winter Park) – Receiving his second Champion for Business award, Rep. Cannon crafted Medicaid reform legislation that would have created a “Medicaid Managed Care” model that could have resulted in significant cost savings for the state.
Rep. Steve Crisafulli (R-Merritt Island) – A first-time Champion for Business award winner, Rep. Crisafulli advanced several pieces of legislation beneficial to the space industry by allocating resources to retain and create space-related jobs and provide Space Florida with flexibility in spending funds for infrastructure improvements.
Rep. Brad Drake (R-DeFuniak Springs) – Rep. Drake is receiving his first Champion for Business award for his successful efforts to pass legislation that excludes certain types of commercial insurance and risks from having to file with the Office of Insurance Regulation in order to attract and retain private capital necessary to meet Florida’s insurance needs.
Rep. Adam Hasner (R-Delray Beach) – As House Majority Leader and during his tenure in the House, Rep. Hasner has pushed through several pieces of pro-business legislation and was instrumental in the passage of this year’s Unemployment Compensation Tax Relief legislation.  This is his third Champion for Business award.
Rep. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) – While ultimately vetoed by the Governor, two-time Champion for Business award recipient Rep. Hays sponsored legislation that enacted a Workers’ Compensation Drug-Repackaging fix that would have saved the state nearly $40 million in workers’ comp costs.
Rep. Mike Horner (R-Kissimmee) – Receiving his first Champion for Business award, Rep. Horner’s efforts resulted in the passage of a bill that enables parents/guardians to waive liability on behalf of their minor children. Without liability protection from a waiver, many recreation and sports-related businesses will not allow minors to participate. Since many of these businesses cater to families, tourism or directly to minors, this could impact their ability to stay in business.
Rep. Ralph Poppell (R-Titusville) – For sponsoring the House “Dynamic Scoring” bill, which will modernize the process used to evaluate the fiscal impact of proposed legislation, Rep. Poppell receives his first Champion for Business award.
Rep. Perry Thurston (D-Ft. Lauderdale) – The only Democrat to receive a Champion for Business award, Rep. Thurston sponsored legislation that will help attract more international business to Florida by allowing for more international, commercial arbitration proceedings to take place in the state.
Rep. Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) – Rep. Weatherford was the primary sponsor of the “Right Size Class Size” amendment, which will allow Floridians to adjust the costly and inflexible parameters of the state’s current class size requirements.  This is his first Champion for Business award.


Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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