Florida Chamber says 'mission accomplished' during 2012 legislation session

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce had one key goal for the 2012 Legislative Session — to end the session without one single new tax, higher fee, new regulation or union-backed mandate. Mission accomplished.

And this was accomplished despite a $2 billion budget gap, the challenges of redistricting, election year politics and the distraction of the attempted expansion of Las Vegas-style casino gambling.

Not only was this key mission accomplished, but also, building on an aggressive multi-year jobs agenda, the Florida Legislature supported 25 Florida Chamber-backed pro-business, pro-jobs bills—further reducing the cost of doing business, the number of burdensome regulations for Florida’s job creators and reforming Florida’s fraudulent auto insurance (PIP) system.

“During a year in which lawmakers faced many distractions, the Florida Legislature ended session without a single new tax, higher fee, new regulation or union-backed mandate,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “While passing more issues than expected, there is still more work to be done. Unfortunately, the Florida Senate missed important opportunities to help Florida improve on its 42nd worst legal climate ranking and refused to vote on lowering workers’ compensation rates by 2.5 percent on job creators.”

Lawmakers reduced the pending $817 million tax increase on Florida businesses by passing a Florida Chamber-backed unemployment compensation tax reform bill and eliminating more than 270 outdated and burdensome rules and regulations.

“Businesses throughout Florida have been facing an $817 million unemployment tax increase,” said Anthony Connelly, Florida Chamber Board of Directors Chair and Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S. “The Florida Chamber’s efforts on unemployment compensation tax reform will save Florida’s business community nearly $550 million over two years.”

As the voice of business in Florida, the Florida Chamber entered the 2012 Legislative Session by encouraging lawmakers to build on efforts to transition Florida to an innovation-based economy and put the long-term health of Florida ahead of short-term politics. The Florida Chamber’s agenda for jobs, Where We Stand, served as a roadmap to securing Florida’s future.

“With the conclusion of the regular session, we continue to focus our attention to the 2012 election cycle by evaluating each legislator’s grade on our report card, interviewing nearly every House and Senate candidate and fundraising to elect pro-business candidates,” said Marian Johnson, Senior Vice President of Political Operations for the Florida Chamber.

The Florida Chamber will soon release its annual How They Voted publication – a Legislative Report Card that grades each member of the Florida Legislature on their pro-jobs, pro-business legislative action.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, 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.