Associated Industries of Florida, one of the most authoritative business advocates in the state, today released its annual Session Priorities list, an agenda for the 60-day legislative term beginning Tuesday.
The AIF agenda is the leading indicator to gauge which are the most pressing issues facing Florida businesses in the coming year.
“Among the many important issues that AIF intends to focus on are taxation, water, gaming and health care,” said President and CEO Tom Feeney in a statement issued Wednesday. “Additionally, we are happy to see job growth is on a steady path to recovery, and we believe pro-employment policies can continue to expedite the recovery of our workforce here in Florida.”
In 2014, the trade association known as “The Voice of Florida Business” will again advocate for lower taxes for Florida consumers — through rolling back motor vehicle license taxes and reducing the sales tax on commercial energy consumption. Both are significant proposals in Gov. Rick Scott’s request to lower taxes by $500 million in the 2014-2015 budget.
Florida has the third-highest tax rates in the nation for communications services (combining state and average local rates), and the organization will push for a reduction of the state communications services tax (CST).
AIF will also continue to support taxing pre-paid calling services at “point of sale,” as well as reducing Florida’s sales tax on commercial real estate leases — the only state in the nation to impose such a tax.
Through the Florida H2O Coalition, AIF members will assist state lawmakers in developing a wide-ranging statewide water plan using science-based solutions; promote adequate program funding, alternative water supply options, and emphasize the need to fund “shovel-ready” regional projects.
In one of the most controversial issues facing the Legislature in 2014, AIF will advocate bringing integrated resorts to Florida encourage lawmakers — prior to approving any proposals — to consider carefully the impact of those resorts on the state’s existing pari-mutuel industry.
Pari-mutuels should have the ability to compete, AIF officials believe, with the purpose of providing the best entertainment value possible, as long as there is strong community support.
Another priority is the foundation of an independent gaming commission, and a competitive bidding process for a limited number of Integrated Resort Licenses in counties in areas currently allowing slot machines.
Healthcare continues to be a primary concern for businesses throughout Florida, leading AIF to advocate for increased transparency, telemedicine services and removing regulatory obstacles for qualified health care professionals.
The group distributes its “2014 Session Priorities” to all 160 members of the Florida Legislature, Florida Cabinet, executive branch agency heads and association members.
“As the 2014 Legislative Session commences next week,” Feeney says, “AIF is dedicated to continuing its tradition of utilizing these guiding principles as outlined and working diligently to support these issues on behalf of the business community over the course of the 60-day session.”
The electronic version of the report is available at AIF.com.