February 10, 2010
Approximately 100 of Florida’s business owners, industry group members, and interested parties gathered at the Governors Club on Monday, February 8th to attend AIF’s annual Pre-Session Briefing. Our annual briefing allows membership to listen to legislative leaders, AIF lobby team members and distinguished guests to discuss upcoming business issues for the 2010 session. House and Democratic leaders from both sides of the aisle attended, including Senate President Jeff Atwater (R-North Palm Beach), Speaker Larry Cretul (R-Ocala) and House Minority Leader Franklin Sands (D-Weston). Also in attendance were Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Senator Chris Smith (D-Jacksonville), Senator Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey), and Representative Dave Murzin (R-Pensacola)
To no surprise, job creation took the limelight as the foremost topic of conversation. Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottkamp opened the event with a great discussion on priorities that his office is focusing on, including enforcement of unauthorized drug clinics, growth and development in the space industry and incentives to attract new industries to the state of Florida.
House and Senate leaders took the stage early to discuss their respective legislative agendas. Speaker Cretul spoke passionately about the importance of putting Floridians back to work; so much so that he requested to use AIF’s Jobs slogan “From pink slips, to paychecks” to inspire legislative action. In addition, the Speaker candidly publicized his desire to pass the fewest amount of bills in legislative history, citing “less is not always worse” when it comes to costly legislation. President Atwater briefly discussed his office’s efforts to tackle unemployment, stating that there is no “official blueprint” that his staff is working from. Furthermore, he welcomes any and all recommendations to his office in effort to simultaneously reduce the deficit and promote job creation in the state of Florida.
Senator Mike Fasano, Chairman of the Transportation and Economic Development Committee, took the opportunity to discuss affordable housing and transportation issues to our members. Senator Fasano enthusiastically conveyed interest in repealing the cap on the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Needless to say, many of AIF’s housing and development members were pleased to hear the Senator’s support.
During the second half of the briefing, the Democratic Leadership was provided an opportunity to share their agenda for the upcoming session. Democratic members offered assurances to AIF members that they were enthusiastic about working with business groups to improve Florida’s fragile economy. House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands said his caucus supported proposals to delay a significant increase in the state’s unemployment compensation tax and instead relying on loans from the federal government. Senator Chris Smith also conveyed his caucus’ willingness to work with the business community.
Representative Murzin, Chairman of the House’s Economic Development and Community Affairs Policy Council was AIF’s final guest speaker, and received much attention as he updated AIF members on the latest developments regarding the unemployment compensation tax legislation.