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Coalition says anti-discrimination bill would boost state economy by $5B

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Bills to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity would boost Florida’s economic output by more than $5 billion over the next 10 years according to a study touted by Florida Competes.

The anti-discrimination advocacy group pointed to the study as part of their push for bills banning discrimination against LGBT individuals.

According to the Thinkspot study, such legislation could boost the state’s standing among skilled workers, which could create about 36,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.

The jump in employment would increase state GDP by $3.46 billion over the decade, while Florida’s total economic output would jump by $5.46 billion over the same stretch.

Thinkspot based the numbers on an 0.75 percent increase in Florida’s “attractiveness” to high-value workers if such legislation were passed, noting that American workers “vote with their feet.”

Florida Competes Executive Vice President John Tonnison said Florida “is graduating some of the most talented students in the country, and needs to do what it can to keep that talent in state.

“Competition is fierce for these future leaders, who look for both an inclusive work environment and a high quality of life,” he said in a press release. “Florida needs to follow the lead of Fortune 500 companies and add sexual orientation and gender identity to its anti-discrimination law.”

Tonnison said business leaders aligned with Florida Competes would be talking to lawmakers this week about the economic benefits of anti-discrimination laws.

Florida Competes’ coalition includes AT&T, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Raymond James, Tech Data, Walt Disney World Resort, Wells Fargo, as well as more than 450 local businesses.

This session, the Senate anti-discrimination bill, SB 666, is sponsored by Lake Worth Democratic Sen. Jeff Clemens. It would prohibit discrimination against members of the LGBT community when it comes to public lodging, public restaurants, the sale or rental of housing, and brokerage services, among other things.

St. Petersburg Democratic Rep. Ben Diamond and Titusville Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia are sponsoring the House version, HB 623.

Neither version of the bill has been heard in committee.

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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