June 28, 2007
Tallahassee, FL – Business initiatives that will reap positive benefits for Florida’s economy and the state’s 17-million residents remained a top priority for elected leaders during the 2007 Legislative Session. Based on this year’s legislative agenda, Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) today released its annual Voting Records Report and announced the 2007 Champion for Business award winners.
The voting records are based on thousands of votes cast on business related bills and amendments. The publication is considered the most comprehensive and objective report in the state. In addition, the AIF Champion for Business awards are presented each year to leaders who sponsor and defend critical business bills, as well as those who worked behind-the-scenes on legislation that is critical to the livelihood of Florida’s business community.
2007 Voting Records
Associated Industries’ Voting Records provide Florida’s business community and elected leaders with a detailed analysis of member votes on the issues that greatly impact businesses, employers and the economy.
“The 2007 legislative session was generally a mixed bag. The business community enjoyed some key legislative victories including “guns in the workplace” and the defeat of tort reform weakening legislation. But much work remains to be done. Property and casualty insurance legislation is, at best, a stop gap measure and we are all hoping for another hurricane season like last year. On property taxes, we heartily supported Governor Charlie Crist’s compromise proposal, but we want to continue to work on more meaningful reform in the next session that will benefit all ad valorem taxpayers.”
The Voting Records results demonstrate overall Senate votes on pro-business legislation were down from 92% in 2006 to 85% in 2007, mainly the result of the Senate advancing through several committees a series of healthcare mandates and a guns in the workplace bill. This year, Senator Gary Siplin (D-Orlando) led the way for Democratic pro-business initiatives in the Senate, while freshman Senator Steve Oelrich (R-Gainesville) was at the top of his class with a 93% voting record. In addition, Senator Mike Haridopolos (R-Melbourne) and Senator Alex Diaz de la Portilla (R-Miami) remained vigilant supporters of the business economy and the state’s economic future.
Ninety-two percent of the time, the House voted in favor of business measures, this score is down from 95% last year. Two freshman Representatives Seth McKeel (R-Lakeland) and Nick Thompson (R-Ft. Myers) provided stalwart support to the business community with favorable scores of 98%. Another notable freshman Representative, Debbie Boyd (D-High Springs), scored the highest among Democrats in the House. Representative Don Davis (R-Jacksonville) topped the list with a score of 100%, after returning from a serious illness to cast the 120th vote on his Film and Entertainment Industry Act, though he only was able to cast two votes.
The overall combined score for both chambers is 88.5%, revealing a slight decrease from last year’s legislative support of 89%.
“This year, AIF set out with an ambitious legislative agenda on behalf of the business community. While the successes achieved were many in 2007, there are still some tough challenges ahead including the Communications Services Tax, protection of tort reform, improvements to the property appraisal process, and re-authorization of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. AIF’s influential governmental affairs team will continue to forge ahead to educate and inform members and candidates of the need for a strong business community and the impact employers have on ensuring our state enjoys a flourishing economy,” said Bishop.
2007 Champion for Business Awards
The “Champion Awards” are presented annually to leaders who are strong and forceful advocates of the business community. The winners are the “chosen few” who work with great determination to advance policies that stimulate Florida’s economy and fight against proposals that will undermine business expansion and job growth. The 2007 Champion for Business award winners are:
Representative Trey Traviesa (R-Tampa) is receiving his second Champion for Business Award for following through on a promise to open up the cable television market to real competition. Rep. Traviesa was able to bring all players to the table in order to work out a compromise that would be in the best interest of Florida’s citizens and businesses.
Representative Charlie Dean (R-Inverness) worked hard to ensure billions of dollars in tax cuts and insurance-rate relief, as well as provided staunch support for tort reform. As Chairman of the House Safety and Security Council, Rep. Dean thwarted attempts by the trial bar to undermine the repeal of Joint & Several Liability, a move that would have resulted in businesses and people paying more than their fair share in legal proceedings. In addition, Rep. Dean sponsored and passed legislation this year, which helped businesses and contractors comply with the Jessica Lunsford Act by establishing uniform guidelines and procedures while doing away with multiple and costly background screening requirements while keeping the integrity of the original law.
Representative Alan Hays (R-Umatilla), filed legislation this year that brought attention to the expansion of Citizens Insurance Co., a proposition that is not supported by AIF or the business community. The bill would have created the Citizens Property Insurance Mission Review Task Force whose role would have been to figure out a way to reduce the number of policies covered by this government-created insurance company. Florida businesses are now liable for 41% of Citizens’ deficits as a result of legislation passing during the 2007 Special Session on Property Insurance Reform. Even though the bill was not passed, AIF applauds Rep. Hays’ efforts to try and curb the expansion of Citizens.
Representative Rich Glorioso (R-Plant City) is receiving his first Champion for Business Award for the leadership he displayed in filing and successfully passing one of the most talked about transportation bills in recent history. The bill is critical to preserving Florida’s economic vitality and addressing the threat of transportation gridlock. Rep. Glorioso fought to include language which tackles the developing crisis with the availability of aggregate materials used in the production of concrete and asphalt, necessary for road building projects. It places restrictions on a local government’s ability to implement aggregate mining moratoriums and provides for the development of expedited permitting processes for mining operations. Failure to enact such provisions could have brought road building statewide to a complete halt, thus affecting every aspect of Florida’s economy.
AIF Governmental Outsourcing Council: Legislator of the Year Award
Representative Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) filed a bill designed to help human service outsourcing providers interact more efficiently and with more accountability with state government, for our Governmental Outsourcing Council and persisted until the bill was heard in the House Safety and Security Council His direct action has resulted in interim meetings with the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Children & Families, and the Department of Financial Services and other executive branch agencies to review and correct the unstable business environment created by agency action.
AIF Information Technology Council: Legislator of the Year Awards
Senator Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee), as Chairman of the Senate Governmental Operations Committee he sponsored the Information Technology Council’s “must pass bill” of the session, SB 1974 Relating to IT Governance. He also sponsored an amendment supported by the Information Technology Council, requiring state government to consider refreshing IT equipment on a regularly scheduled basis. Without Senator Lawson’s leadership on the IT Governance bill, AIF’s issues would not have made it into the final enrolled bill that was recently signed by the Governor. Since this bill will guide all enterprise information technology projects in the future, it was very critical bill for the IT Council.
Representative Will Weatherford (R-Zephyrhills) had the confidence to sponsor the Enterprise Information Technology bill that resulted from a Senate Governmental Operations Committee interim project on the governance of State information technology. The freshman member studied the legislation and made excellent presentations before several committees as well as on the House floor. He also wants to continue to be involved in future IT legislation and expressed support for AIF’s IT Council recommendations.