Bill filed again to protect LGBT community in state law

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Key Largo Representative Holly Raschein filed a bill that would add protections for gay and transgender people in Florida’s anti-discrimination law.

The Florida Competitive Workforce Act will be heard during the 2015 legislative session.

“Passing the Competitive Workforce Act makes good sense economically and benefits employers and employees by offering a law that is consistent across the state,” said Raschein.

It’s already illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin, physical handicap or marital status, the LGBT community isn’t covered under state protections when it comes to employment and housing. The bi-partisan bill is seen as a win by business leaders who believe it will give the state a stronger competitive foothold in a society where alternative lifestyles are becoming widely accepted.

The bill is being celebrated by Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce, a coalition of 21 major Florida employers. The group includes giant job creators like Darden Restaurants, Florida Blue, the Marriott hotel chain, Raymond James and Tech Data. Also involved are Walt Disney World Resorts, Wells Fargo and Winn Dixie.

“The coalition is grateful to Rep. Raschein for her leadership as the primary bill sponsor in the House of Representatives,” said coalition spokeswoman Christina Johnson. “She understands the impact this has on the state’s ability to attract the best and the brightest into our workforce, and we are here to see the measure passed in Florida as similar protections already exist in 21 other states.”

The Competitive Workforce coalition is a non-profit organized specifically to pass the Compteitive Workforce Act. Raschein has been in the Florida House since 2012 and was re-elected this year. The Republican lawmaker represents voters in Key Largo’s Monroe County and parts of Miami-Dade County.

The 2015 legislative session begins March 3.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.