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2012 AIF Voting Records Report: Most Business-Friendly House Since 2008; Legislators Embrace Job Creation and Economic Growth Proposals

April 12, 2012

TALLAHASSEE – Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) today announced the release of its 2012 Voting Records Report – a comparison of state lawmakers’ votes on legislation impacting Florida’s businesses and employers to AIF’s 2012 legislative priorities. After completing a thorough analysis of more than 13,200 votes cast on 114 business-related bills, the 2012 Voting Records Report reveals the most business-friendly Florida House of Representatives since 2008. On average, Florida House Republicans scored high marks leading to an overall 89 percent of House votes in favor of pro-business legislation. Business-friendly votes in the Senate averaged 85 percent matching 2011 and 2010 percentages.

View document featuring 2012 Voting Records Report charts and graphs.

“This year, the Legislature took significant steps toward adopting an agenda that will reestablish Florida as a job creating and economic growth machine. However, some critical issues that require courage and leadership, such as tort reform, workers’ comp and property insurance reform, remain on the table,” said Tom Feeney, AIF President and CEO. “AIF looks forward to working with the next generation of elected officials to tackle the tough issues and build on the positive strides made this year. As we travel the state this summer reviewing and vetting candidates, we will be looking for those who have solid voting records and an outstanding vision for the future.”

The 2012 Legislative Session also marked a decreasing gap between Democrats’ and Republicans’ voting records on pro-business legislation. Last year, the disparity between the two parties was one of the widest in 10 years – a 48 percent difference. This year, that margin narrowed to 26 percent with 96 percent of all Republicans and 70 percent of all Democrats voting in favor of legislation that will positively benefit Florida businesses, employers and the state’s economy.

“Although Democrats’ voting records continue to lag behind that of Republicans, Democrats are increasingly less resistant to pro-business measures that will bring new jobs and economic prosperity to Florida. The improvements in Democrats’ scores are encouraging,” added Feeney.

AIF’s report documents every time a legislator voted for and against the business community, which then determines their percentage record. In addition to floor and floor amendment votes, the report also accounts for votes legislators cast on committee/subcommittee bills and committee/subcommittee amendments. Since many critical business issues never make it to the floor, AIF’s voting records calculation provides a complete picture of members’ votes.

The association has a long tradition of reviewing and conducting a detailed analysis of legislators’ votes on business issues. The annual Voting Records Report is a valued and trusted resource for the business community. AIF maintains a comprehensive online database of voting records, which is available to the public and enables visitors to view voting record information from 1979 to the current year. Data can be broken down by year, political party, legislator name, subject and chamber.

Senate Republicans’ voting record was 91 percent while Senate Democrats’ record was 73 percent. Leading the Senate was Sen. Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando) who voted in favor of Florida businesses 99 percent of the time and cast only one vote against AIF’s priority issues. Other notables include Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R-Merritt Island) and Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto (R-Ft.  Myers) both with a 98 percent voting record, Sen. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) at 97 percent and Sen. Don Gaetz (R-Destin), Sen. John Thrasher (R-Jacksonville) and Sen. Jack Latvala (R-St. Petersburg) each with 96 percent of their votes in favor of pro-business legislation. Sen. Jeremy Ring (D-Margate) ranked highest among Democratic Senators with an 82 percent voting record.

House Republicans scored an average of 96 percent and House Democrats came in with a 70 percent average. This year, 14 Republican members of the House were inducted into the “AIF 100 Percent Club,” recognizing members who earned perfect scores of 100 percent and did not vote against AIF’s agenda once. Included in this group are: Rep. Janet Adkins (R-Fernandina Beach), Rep. Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton), Rep. Denise Grimsley (R-Sebring), Rep. Ed Hooper (R-Clearwater), Rep. Mike Horner (R-Kissimmee), Rep. Marlene O'Toole (R-Lady Lake), Rep. Bill Proctor (R-St. Augustine), Rep. Lake Ray (R-Jacksonville), Rep. Ronald "Doc" Renuart (R-Ponte Vedra Beach), Rep. Ken Roberson (R-Port Charlotte), Rep. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland), Rep. John Tobia (R-Melbourne), Rep. John Wood (R-Winter Haven) and Rep. Dana Young (R-Tampa).

Approximately two thirds of the entire House – all Republican members – earned a score of 95 percent or higher. Rep. Ritch Workman (R-Melbourne) cast more votes – 112 – for pro-business legislation than any other House member. The top scoring Democrat in the House was Rep. Leonard Bembry (D-Madison) with a score of 88 percent.

“The bulk of the bills AIF tracked were related to tax, employment, regulatory and economic development issues. Our success in these areas this session are reflected in the records reported today,” said Feeney. “By the same token, legislators’ votes on some of the more controversial bills, such as PIP reform, and important bills that did not pass including the parent trigger bill and property insurance reform, had a significant impact on individual lawmakers’ records.”

In the coming weeks, AIF will announce the 2012 Champion for Business Awards, which recognize elected officials who have proven to be strong and forceful advocates for Florida business. These lawmakers go above and beyond the call of duty regardless of their voting record. Award recipients are chosen for passing or defeating legislation critical to maintaining a vibrant private-enterprise system.

View more information on AIF’s 2012 Voting Records Report, here.