June 10, 2008
Tallahassee, Fla. – Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) today released its annual Voting Records Report, a detailed analysis of member votes on issues and legislation impacting Florida’s economic climate, businesses and employers as compared to the 2008 AIF Session Priorities. AIF has been tracking legislative voting records on business issues longer than any other group in the state. Overall, Senate and House votes in favor of pro-business legislation were down. The combined score for both chambers is 85.5 percent, revealing a three-point decrease from last year’s legislative report of 88.5 percent.
“With more than $6 billion in state budget cuts and a number of key Senate and House seats up for re-election, lawmakers faced unique challenges this past legislative session. However, times of financial uncertainty underscore the importance of supporting Florida’s business community and the role it will play in the resurgence of our state’s economy,” said Barney Bishop, President and CEO of AIF. “Our voting records are the only ones providing Florida’s business people with a full picture of how their local legislators voted on issues impacting their livelihood. At a time when legislators are asking for financial support and votes, this report can serve as a powerful tool to guide businesses’ decisions.”
2008 Voting Records
The 2008 Voting Records Report is based on thousands of votes cast on business-related bills and amendments. The publication is considered the business community’s most comprehensive and objective voting record report in the state because legislators are scored on committee votes in addition to floor votes. This is very important because many critical business issues never make it to the floor. Counting only floor votes would present a starkly different and incomplete perspective.
The results demonstrate overall Senate votes on pro-business legislation were down from 85 percent in 2007 to 81 percent in 2008 – the lowest since 2003. This year, Sen. Steve Oelrich (R-Gainesville) led the way for pro-business initiatives with a 92 percent voting record. Sen. Mike Haridopolos (R-Melbourne), Sen. Anthony Hill, Sr. (D-Jacksonville) and Sen. Gary Siplin (D-Orlando) all followed closely with a 90 percent record. Senators Hill and Siplin were the highest ranked Democrats in the Senate. The lowest scoring Democrat in the Senate was Sen. Mandy Dawson (D-Ft. Lauderdale) with a 61 percent record, while the lowest scoring Republican was Sen. Mike Bennett (R-Bradenton) with a 70 percent voting record.
Down from a 92 percent voting record in 2007, the House voted in favor of business measures 90 percent of the time during the 2008 legislative session – the lowest since 2005. House members, Rep. Dean Cannon (R-Winter Park), Rep. Michael Grant (R-Port Charlotte), Rep. Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange), Rep. Pat Patterson (R-DeLand) and Rep. David Rivera (R-Miami) all strongly supported Florida’s business community and received impressive scores of 95 percent – the highest scores for any House members. Additionally, freshman Rep. Martin Kiar (D-Parkland) led the way for Democratic pro-business initiatives in the House with a 93 percent voting record. The lowest scoring Democrat was Rep. Susan Bucher (D-West Palm Beach) with a 70 percent record. The lowest scoring Republican in the House was Rep. Ed Homan (R-Temple Terrace) with an 86 percent voting record.
Despite 2008’s lower voting records, AIF and Florida’s business community were successful in defeating a number of anti-business bills including:
“This down trend in legislative support for pro-business legislation can be attributed to a number of outlying factors,” added Bishop. “Whether the decrease is associated with a difficult budget year or the need to appease other voting blocks, the bottom-line is AIF will continue to walk the halls and track the votes in order to defend the principles of the free-enterprise system. Businesses across the state can continue to count on AIF for timely information on how local legislators voted on all the issues affecting their bottom line and their employees.”