Gov. Scott leads AIF’s list of “Champions of Business”

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Florida’s foremost business trade group named a number of pro-business legislators, led by Republican Gov. Rick Scott, as “Champions for Business” for 2014.

The Associated Industries of Florida announced ten award winners on Tuesday — Scott, in addition to eight Republicans and a Democrat — as elected officials who have proven this year to be strong and forceful advocates for Florida business.

“At AIF, we are proud to recognize those elected officials who have supported business-friendly legislation during the 2014 Legislative Session,” said AIF CEO Tom Feeney. “AIF thanks this year’s ‘Champions for Business’ for their dedication to improving the business climate in the Sunshine State and striving to make Florida a premier location to live, work and do business.”

AIF recognized Scott for his efforts in cutting taxes by $500 million in 2014, in particular signing Senate Bill 156, which rolled back vehicle registration fees that will save taxpayers $395 million.

Other recipients of the AIF Champions for Business Award:

Republican Sen. Joe Negron, receiving his fourth AIF Champions for Business Award. His legislation, SB 156, rolls back vehicle registration fees to pre-2009 levels, saving Florida vehicle owners as much as $395 million.

Incoming Republican House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Rep. Richard Corcoran. Crisafulli receives his fourth AIF Award; it is the first for Corcoran. AIF named the two lawmakers for their support of step therapy, a progressive drug treatment where patients should only be prescribed higher cost medication if lower cost, lower risk medications do not work. SB 1354 and HB 7113 were the principal bills proposed that would have negated the benefits of step therapy for patients and businesses alike. Through the efforts of Representative Corcoran, these bills never passed the House of Representatives.

Rep. Seth McKeel and Sen. Jeremy Ring. McKeel receives his second Award, Ring is getting his third. Both lawmakers were instrumental in modernizing the state’s IT infrastructure, establishing a Chief Information Officer and an Agency for State Technology, which promotes efficiency and streamlined interactions with the business community.

Outgoing Republican House Speaker Will Weatherford and Sen. Jack Latvala. Weatherford and Latvala, both three-time Award winners, played integral roles in the passage of HB 851, which offers in-state tuition rates to undocumented students who graduate from a Florida high school or earn a GED. According to AIF, education will be a “key ingredient of job creation,” ensuring companies will continue to locate to Florida.

Rep. Jeanette Nunez receives her first Award. This year, AIF recognized the Miami Republican for sponsoring and passing HB 851, which freezes rising college tuition and extends in-state tuition rates to all Florida students, regardless of immigration status.

Sen. Bill Montford, the only Democrat on the list, receives his first AIF Award. Montford demonstrated a dedication to Florida’s agricultural industry in its effort to strengthen food security and keep producers competitive.

Since 2003, AIF has presented 146 “Champions for Business” awards to 92 elected officials. A ‘non-voting’ award, the Champions are separate from the annual Voting Records report, calculated based on how Florida legislators cast votes on bills affecting the business community.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.