AIF, FHCA & FHA File Brief with Florida Supreme Court

Groups Voice Opposition of Deregulating Florida’s Utility Industry

April 18, 2019

Tallahassee, Fla. – The Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), joined by the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) and the Florida Hospital Association (FHA), today filed a brief with the Florida Supreme Court in opposition to the constitutional amendment entitled ‘Right To Competitive Energy Market For Customers Of Investor Owned Utilities; Allowing Energy Choice.’

As detailed in the brief, “Affordable and reliable electricity is critical to Florida’s economy. For large commercial and industrial consumers of energy, reliability of electricity supply is not just expected—it is an absolute necessity. Over the nearly 100 years of AIF’s existence, Florida’s highly reliable electric power system has allowed AIF’s members to grow and flourish. Florida’s existing electric utility providers have built the current electric system over many decades and continue to improve it through hardening and smart technology, even in the face of hurricanes and other natural disasters. AIF has an interest in this proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution because the proposal threatens Florida’s affordable and reliable electric system. AIF has an interest in this Court’s review of the proposed amendment both because the proposal presents a misleading ballot summary to the voters and also because the proposal addresses multiple distinct subjects in violation of the Florida Constitution. Because of these defects, the proposed amendment should be denied placement on the ballot.”

“AIF, along with the FHCA and FHA, is deeply concerned about this proposed ballot initiative,” said AIF President & CEO Tom Feeney. “It not only violates Florida law and should be rejected by the Supreme Court, it is a drastic and costly proposal that would hurt businesses and consumers, and threaten the reliability of our electricity supply.”

“For large commercial and industrial consumers of energy, reliability of electricity supply is a necessity,” said Feeney.  “Without it, commercial and industrial customers shut down. Hospitals go dark, as do schools and government buildings. Workers go home. Wages are lost. And, the impact on the taxes and fees hurt consumers, small businesses and our economy to the tune of $12 billion according to an initial economic analysis.”

FHCA and FHA have joined AIF in filing the brief due to this constitutional amendment threatening the reliability of emergency response and critical-needs facilities, like Florida hospitals and nursing centers.

“With nearly 700 Florida nursing centers caring for over 70,000 frail elders and people with disabilities each year, it is critical our state has a reliable electricity system,” said FHCA Executive Director Emmett Reed.  “We join AIF in filing this brief as we believe this misleading measure is not in the best interest of Florida families relying on us to care for their loved ones on a day-to-day basis, but especially during times of critical need.”

“Florida’s hospital community cannot support a ballot initiative that violates the law that if allowed to be placed on the ballot, would increase the cost of providing the highest quality care to Florida patients,” said FHA President Bruce Rueben. “Marketplace certainty is essential for critical-need facilities. FHA joins AIF in opposition to this initiative that would leave Florida hospitals and patients vulnerable in emergency situations.  We must have a reliable electricity system and the current structure already allows for just that.”

The brief filed with the Florida Supreme Court points out that this ballot initiative not only violates Florida’s ‘Single Subject’ rule, it is also far from clear and unambiguous.  On one hand it claims to establish an open energy market, while on the other it bans private entities from that same market.

To view the brief in full, please visit http://aif.com/information/2019/Initial_Brief_On_Merits.pdf.

Known as “The Voice of Florida Business” in the Sunshine State, Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) has represented the principles of prosperity and free enterprise before the three branches of state government since 1920. A voluntary association of diversified businesses, AIF was created to foster an economic climate in Florida conducive to the growth, development, and welfare of industry and business and the people of the state.

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