July 1, 2014
Tallahassee, Fla. – Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) today announced its 2014 ‘Champions for Business’ award recipients. These ‘non-voting’ awards are given to those elected officials who have proven to be strong and forceful advocates for Florida business.
“At AIF, we are proud to recognize those elected officials who have supported business-friendly legislation during the 2014 Legislative Session,” said AIF President & CEO Tom Feeney. “AIF thanks this year’s ‘Champions for Business’ for their dedication to improving the business climate in the Sunshine State and striving to make Florida a premier location to live, work and do business.”
The 2014 ‘Champion for Business’ recipients include:
Governor Rick Scott is receiving his second AIF Champions for Business Award and isonly the second Governor to receive the awardin its 11-year history. As a longtime friend to the business community, Governor Scott proved once again this year to be an ally by signing various pieces of important legislation promoting the state’s business climate and helping Florida’s families. Perhaps most notably, Governor Scott signed Senate Bill 156, which rolled back vehicle registration fees that will save taxpayers $395 million. This tax reduction was a large portion of Governor Scott’s efforts to cut taxes by $500 million, a goal which he and the Legislature accomplished this session. Under the Governor’s leadership, Florida has become one of the most attractive states in which to live and conduct business and AIF is committed to working alongside the Governor to continue this progress.
Senator Joe Negron (R-Palm City) is receiving his fourth AIF Champions for Business Award. His legislation, SB 156, rolls back vehicle registration fees to pre-September 2009 levels, which will benefit every family or business that owns a vehicle to the tune of $395 million in reduced taxes. AIF supported SB 156 from its inception because it leaves more money in the pockets of Floridians and encourages growth and job creation for businesses, especially those with a fleet of vehicles.
Representative Steve Crisafulli (R-Merritt Island) is receiving his fourth AIF Champions for Business Award. As the Speaker-designate, Representative Crisafulli demonstrated critical leadership by helping to defeat efforts to undermine step therapy. Step therapy is a progressive approach to drug treatment that says patients should only be prescribed higher cost medication if lower cost, lower risk medications do not work. Eliminating this component of managed medical care would dramatically increase health care costs for patients and employers. SB 1354 and House Bill 7113 were the principal bills intended to make it easier for medical providers to override step therapy procedures. Under Speaker-designate Crisafulli’s leadership, these bills were never passed by the Florida House of Representatives.
Representative Seth McKeel (R-Lakeland) is receiving his second AIF Champions for Business Award. His legislation, HB 7073, aims to modernize the state’s IT infrastructure and ensure Florida is no longer the only state in the nation without a Chief Information Officer. This necessary legislation creates the Agency for State Technology (AST) that will develop and implement information technology standards, develop technology policy and consolidate services where applicable. HB 7073 brings Florida in-line technologically with other states and aims to increase coordination among agencies. The AST will boost bottom lines in Florida’s business community through streamlined interactions and increased efficiency.
Senator Jeremy Ring (D-Margate) is receiving his third AIF Champions for Business Award. Senator Ring was instrumental in developing the IT governance legislation that was signed into law this session. Florida was the only state without a Chief Information Officer, which HB 7073 creates along with the Agency for State Technology (AST). The AST with an effective Chief Information Officer at the helm will modernize the state’s IT infrastructure, while making data storage and cross-agency communications more efficient. Businesses will benefit from the new agency through simplified interaction with a more efficient government.
Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) is now a four-time recipient of the AIF Champions for Business Award. A strong advocate for education, Speaker Weatherford played a tremendous role in the passage of HB 851, which extends in-state tuition rates to undocumented students who graduate from a Florida high school or earn a GED. Under Speaker Weatherford’s leadership, future generations of Florida’s children will be enabled to get a higher education and/or specialized degree, obtain good paying jobs and become contributors to our state's economy. Creating these opportunities for students will ensure an educated workforce and give Florida’s businesses a competitive edge.
Senator Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater) is receiving his third AIF Champions for Business Award. Senator Latvala championed the in-state tuition legislation, HB 851, in the Senate. By sponsoring similar legislation and helping to maneuver HB 851 through the Senate, he has shown his commitment to expanding access to education for all of Florida's students who graduate from a Florida high school or earn a GED. Improving our workforce through education will be a key ingredient of job creation and will also ensure businesses continue to locate to Florida.
Representative Jeanette Nunez (R-Miami) is receiving her first AIF Champions for Business Award. This year, Representative Nunez is being recognized for sponsoring and passing HB 851, which puts a freeze on rising college tuition and extends in-state tuition rates to all Florida students, regardless of immigration status. Equal access to higher education opportunities will be crucial as our state grows and prospers to guarantee that the growing demand for an educated workforce is met.
Senator Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee) is receiving his first AIF Champions for Business Award. Senator Montford demonstrated his dedication to protecting Florida’s robust agricultural industry when he stood with the industry’s stakeholders in order to strengthen food security and keep Florida’s agricultural producers competitive.
Representative Richard Corcoran (R-Lutz) is receiving his first AIF Champions for Business Award. Rep. Corcoran is being recognized for his vital role in protecting step therapy as an approach to control costs and mitigate risk for patients. Step therapy is a progressive approach to drug treatment that says patients should only be prescribed higher cost medication if lower cost, lower risk medications do not work. SB 1354 and HB 7113 were the principal bills proposed that would have negated the benefits of step therapy for patients and businesses alike. Through the efforts of Representative Corcoran, these bills never passed the House of Representatives.
Since 2003, AIF has given a total of 146 ‘Champions for Business' awards to 92 different elected officials. These ‘non-voting’ awards are separate from its annual Voting Records report, which is calculated based on how Florida legislators cast votes on bills that affect the business community.