Will Weatherford named Florida Chamber’s “Most Valuable Legislator”

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House Speaker Will Weatherford tops the 2014 list of Distinguished Advocates, as the Florida Chamber of Commerce named the Wesley Chapel Republican Florida’s Most Valuable Legislator on Thursday.

The Chamber awarded Weatherford with the MVL, as well as announcing 40 outstanding lawmakers, during a ceremony Thursday at the annual board of directors conference in Miami.

At the same time, the Chamber issued its annual How They Voted legislative record, a scorecard on all of Florida’s 160 legislators ranking them on how they stood on issues of job creation and economic growth. Grades for all 160 members of the Florida Legislature is available at www.FloridaChamber.com. 

The Chamber’s Distinguished Advocates are state legislators who consistently advocate — no matter how challenging — a pro-job, competitive business environment, as well as supporting regulation boosting the free market, keeping businesses competitive, and delivering economic opportunity to all Floridians.

Recognized as MVL— the chamber’s premier legislative award — Will Weatherford steadfastly championed a number of crucial (and sometimes difficult) issues, such as lawsuit abuse and pension reform and educational opportunities for every Florida student. Often, his support entailed foregoing short-term politics for long-term economic advancement.

In a statement announcing the awards, the Chamber also recognized Weatherford’s leadership skills, and his “ability to provide bipartisan and bicameral solutions to Florida’s biggest issues.”

“We wouldn’t have done the reforms we have been able to get accomplished in the last few years if it wasn’t for the Florida Chamber of Commerce,” Weatherford said. “[They] have been stalwart partners with us.

“It takes a lot of work, takes a lot of advocacy, takes a lot of planning and strategy, and we’ve had some success in the last few years and it’s in large part [due] to the Florida Chamber.”

“Early during the 2014 legislative process, the Florida Chamber encouraged lawmakers to build on efforts to transition Florida to an innovation-based economy by putting the long-term health of Florida ahead of short-term politics,” said Chamber CEO Mark Wilson, praising this year’s crop of  recipients who put “free enterprise principles for job creation above special interests” in the 2014 session.  

2014 DISTINGUISHED ADVOCATE AWARD RECIPIENTS

Florida Senate:

Sen. Joe Abruzzo Led efforts to reform Florida’s communications services tax bill related to franchise relationships.

Sen. Aaron Bean Led the fight for telemedicine and medical tourism.

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto Championed numerous pro-business issues as Senate Majority Leader.

Sen. Rob Bradley Championed legislation to reform local pensions and demonstrated continued leadership on wage protection.

Sen. Jeff Brandes Advanced legislation that provided a private market framework for flood insurance, supported disaster savings account legislation and provided strong leadership in passing the Department of Transportation’s bill.

Sen. Bill Galvano Advocated for meaningful education reform while also sponsoring changes to developments of regional impact review.

Sen. Alan Hays Championed veteran and military employment legislation and workers’ compensation reform.

Sen. Dorothy Hukill Championed tax cut legislation, including the communications services tax and sales tax on commercial leases.

Sen. John Legg Championed digital learning, Career and Professional Education academies and school choice legislation as a means to improve Florida’s K-12 system.

Sen. Wilton Simpson Championed state-pension reform efforts, water policy initiatives and wage protection legislation.

Sen. John Thrasher Sponsored fair settlement legislation and fought for numerous pro-business issues as Rules Chair.

Florida House of Representatives:

Rep. Janet Adkins Championed the improvement of Florida’s A-F school grading formula.

Rep. Ben Albritton Championed a water-storage agriculture bill.

Rep. Jim Boyd Led state-pension reform efforts, which could have saved taxpayers $500 million a year in unfunded liability payments.

Rep. Matt Caldwell Led the fight for local pension reform in the House and led the passage of the Department of Agriculture’s priority bill.

Rep. Richard Corcoran Advocated Florida Chamber health care priorities, including telemedicine and scope of practice reforms.

Rep. Steve Crisafulli Provided continued leadership for science-based water policy and was integral in passing a pro-business agenda as House Majority Leader.

Rep. Travis Cummings Led efforts to pass the telemedicine bill in the Florida House.

Rep. Manny Diaz Advocated for the continual improvement of Florida’s education system while also sponsoring the tax-credit scholarship bill.

Rep. Erik Fresen Helped Florida’s students by advocating for school choice and improved accountability as a strong supporter of the tax credit scholarship bill.

Rep. Matt Gaetz Championed meaningful lawsuit abuse reform this session with his work on fair settlement legislation and reducing nursing home litigation.

Rep. Tom Goodson Sponsored and led the passage of the Department of Transportation’s bill.

Rep. Bill Hager Led on property insurance efforts and the reform of Florida’s Hurricane Catastrophe fund.

Rep. Dave Hood Sponsored accuracy in damages lawsuit abuse reform for the second year and was a leader for local chambers on public records bill.

Rep. Ed Hooper Advocated for flood insurance legislation in the House and for crucial economic development priorities, as well as international initiatives in the budget.

Rep. Matt Hudson Led the fight on health care legislation and championed funding for Cancer Centers of Excellence.

Rep. Travis Hutson Led the fight in growth management efforts and cosponsored the brownfields bill.

Rep. Seth McKeel Helped advance several Florida Chamber-backed priorities in this year’s budget and advocated for state technology reform.

Rep. Jose Oliva Championed Florida Chamber-backed health care measures as Chair of the House Select Committee on Health Care Workforce Innovation.

Rep. Marlene O’Toole Tirelessly advocated for numerous Florida Chamber education and talent priorities.

Rep. Kathleen Passidomo Lawsuit abuse reform by sponsoring fair settlement legislation for the third year.

Rep. Jimmy Patronis Continued his years of leadership as an advocate for environmental regulatory reform.

Rep. Cary Pigman Championed meaningful reforms to Florida’s health care policies by sponsoring scope of practice legislation.

Rep. Lake Ray Continued to fight for economic development in Florida by sponsoring fuel terminals, freight, trade and logistics legislation, and the Florida Transatlantic and Trade Investment Day Resolution.

Rep. Jimmie Smith Led the fight on the Florida GI Bill and defense contracting tax credit legislation.

Rep. Charlie Stone Championed workers’ compensation reform and brownfields — successfully keeping trial lawyer-friendly language from being included in the bill.

Rep. Carlos Trujillo Advocated for several Florida Chamber economic development priorities.

House Speaker Will Weatherford Concluded his speakership by continuing to champion tough issues like pension reform, lawsuit abuse reform and a bold pro-business agenda.

Rep. John Wood Championed regulatory reform efforts.

Rep. Dana Young Led the fight on pro-business policies in her position as Majority Whip.

Previous recipients of the MVL include Rep. Larry Metz (2013), House Speaker Dean Cannon (2012), Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff (2011), Sen. John Thrasher (2010), Sen. Garrett Richter (2009), Rep. Dennis Ross (2008), Rep. Stan Mayfield (2007), Rep. Don Brown (2006) and House Speaker Allan Bense (2005).

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.