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Chamber releases long list of legislative proposals

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has put out its legislative agenda for 2013.

The Chamber, which holds considerable sway in the Capitol, said that it predicts 170,000 new jobs in Florida this year, and claims its proposals will make Florida

“The very best way to secure Florida’s future is to grow Florida one company at a time,” said Mark Wilson, president of the Chamber.

The agenda, which can be found here, outlines business-friendly strategies on a range of issues that includes education, gambling, taxes, legal reform, healthcare, property insurance, workers’ compensation, medical malpractice, universities and more.

The group has had considerable sway in passing laws over the last two years, championing major legislation on business taxes, auto insurance, economic incentives and more. The impact on the economy has been mixed. Florida’s unemployment rate has dropped rapidly, but job creation remains slower than most states and lower than the national average. Wages are also down, as the jobs that have been created pay lower wages than the ones that were eliminated.

The organization stopped short on weighing in on the federal healthcare law, saying that the state needed to take its time to make the right decision on what to do.

See the Chamber’s press release below:

The Florida Chamber of Commerce 2013 Business Agenda Focuses

On Making Florida More Competitive
Florida Has Potential to Create 170,000 New Jobs in 2013

Tallahassee, FL (January 16, 2013) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida’s voice of business, today unveiled its 2013 agenda for jobs – a legislative agenda focused on making Florida’s business climate more competitive and lowering the cost of living for Florida’s families and small business.

With Washington bogged down in uncertainty –the fiscal cliff fiasco, increased payroll taxes, a delayed sequestration decision, and a regulatory tsunami that is emerging from the Beltway – Florida has an opportunity to lead the nation in solving challenges that will make our nation more competitive.

“The Florida Chamber is focused on making Florida more competitive, something that we must do in an ever changing economy,” said Lars Houmann, Chair of the Florida Chamber Board of Directors and CEO of Florida Hospital and the Florida Division of Adventist Health System. “In doing so, Florida has the potential to create 170,000 new jobs this year.”

Florida is moving in the right direction:

  • Florida has the lowest unemployment rate in four years,
  • Florida’s education quality is No. 6 in the nation, and
  • Florida is expected to add 212,000 new residents this year according to the Florida Chamber Foundation.

However, far too many job killers are artificially holding Florida back from strong private-sector job and economic growth. Consider these examples:

  • Out-of-state internet giants get special tax treatment while Florida’s Main Street merchants get punished for living, working and investing in Florida,
  • Florida’s 41st worst legal climate, one of the worst in the nation, inhibits economic expansion,
  • Florida is one costly storm away from economic devastation, and
  • Workers’ compensation rates are rising, in part because of a costly repackaged drug loophole that’s being exploited.

“The best way to secure Florida’s future is to grow forward, one company at a time,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “When companies do well, communities do well, and when communities do well, regions do well. It’s how we pay teachers more, fund economic development, plan for transportation, energy and water, and improve our quality of life.”

Based on input from Florida Chamber members, local chambers of commerce, partner associations, research and unfinished business from the prior year, the Florida Chamber’s 2013 Competitiveness Agenda for Jobs is a blueprint of legislative priorities that move Florida toward an innovation-based economy and puts long-term economic policy decisions ahead of short-term political fixes.

The Florida Chamber’s jobs agenda builds on the more than 50 pro-jobs initiatives passed and signed into law in the past two years. While the Florida Chamber’s agenda is gaining momentum and pro-jobs laws are working, there is much more for the Florida Legislature to do, including:

The Florida Chamber’s Competitiveness Agenda includes:

  • Tax Reform – Leveling the playing field for small businesses and Main Street through E-Fairness, and eliminating manufacturing equipment sales tax to help grow Florida-origin exports.
  • Legal Reform – Improving Florida’s 41st worst legal climate which, studies show, could save $2.8 billion in legal costs and increase employment by as much as two percent.
  • Business Climate Reform – Preempting special interests from creating a patchwork of local paid sick referendums, stabilizing and lowering workers’ comp rates that are artificially higher due to drug repackaging abuses, and reforming Florida’s broken property insurance system by addressing major systemic flaws in Citizens Property Insurance and the CAT Fund.
  • Excellence in Education – Provide a globally competitive education by ensuring education readies Floridians for the 21st century economy, enhancing education options, preparing future generations for a changing workforce, and making Floridians competitive in the global marketplace.
  • Quality of Life – While every state is dealing with the federal health care act, the Florida Chamber looks forward to being a part of the Florida’s debate. As we grow another six million people by 2030, Florida will need more healthcare professionals to pursue medical residencies. Additionally, Florida must repair its unfair medical malpractice system that’s causing doctors to choose other states to open their practices. The Florida Chamber continues to oppose the expansion of Las Vegas-style gambling.

“As Chair of the Florida Chamber Policy Council, I would like to thank our members for developing such a focused competitiveness agenda,” said Eric Silagy, Chair of the Florida Chamber Policy Council and President of Florida Power and Light.

A complete listing of the Florida Chamber’s Competitiveness Agenda, which outlines more than two dozen priorities that fall under the Six Pillars framework, is outlined inWhere We Stand and available at