- The Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) unveiled its 2024 legislative session priorities on Thursday, encompassing various sectors such as economic development, agriculture, insurance, and healthcare.
- The business advocacy group placed focus on bolstering Florida’s economic development in its priorities list, calling for the utilization of initiatives like the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, aimed at enhancing infrastructure and workforce training, especially in the aerospace sector.
- AIF also advocated for continued funding for VISIT FLORIDA, supports energy efficiency measures, agricultural research funding to combat citrus greening, insurance reforms, and increasing the healthcare workforce in the state.
The Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), one of the state’s leading business advocacy organizations, released its 2024 legislative session priorities on Thursday, outlining an agenda that spans multiple sectors including economic development, agriculture, insurance, and health care.
AIF’s agenda is anchored in bolstering Florida’s economic development. The organization specifically focused on the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to enhance infrastructure and workforce training, asserting that continued support would boost fiscal recovery and diversification in key sectors like aerospace. AIF specifically requests that the legislature grant support to programs that provide participants with transferable workforce skills applicable to more than a single employer.
Additionally, AIF advocated for continued funding for VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing arm. With the agency perpetually on the fiscal chopping block, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposed state budget, unveiled last week, calls for a funding boost.
“Tourism is our state’s leading industry,” AIF’s priorities list states. “Not only does our state revenue rely on tourism, but many other businesses in our state also rely heavily on out-of-state visitors for revenue. We must ensure that VISIT FLORIDA is fully funded so it can continue to assist in bringing visitors to our state.”
In the energy sector, AIF backs policies that promote energy efficiency and conservation, though it expresses staunch opposition towards any legislative actions that could result in long-term higher energy prices, advocating for a balanced approach that considers economic impacts.
“AIF supports efforts by the legislature to promote energy efficiency and conservation through cost-effective incentives,” the group states. “Additionally, AIF opposes any legislation that expands incentives for individuals that result in long-term, higher energy prices for all other customers.”
AIF also focused on energy infrastructure and environmental responsibility in their priorities list, wavering support for the development of pipelines for various energy types, and advocating for projects that ensure energy reliability and affordability in Florida.
The organization further encourages investment in renewable energy technologies, emphasizing a balanced approach that avoids government mandates and promotes market-driven solutions. Their stance is geared towards enhancing energy resiliency and independence, advocating for cybersecurity in energy infrastructure without imposing excessive regulations.
“AIF believes the most productive partnership between the government and the private sector is when the government recommends desired performance outcomes and industries compete to find the best technologies to achieve those outcomes,” AIF said. “Sound environmental policy should be inclusive of a diverse blend of electrification technology strategies, including hybrids, and should prioritize consumer adoption and market acceptance. Additionally, monetary incentives by the government should not be used to alter consumer decisions or manufacturer investments”
Targeting an industry beleaguered by citrus greening, AIF pledged support for agriculture-applied research funding that would allow growers to implement a bevy of horticultural, mechanical, and management strategies designed to mitigate the arboreal disease. Citrus greening has severely affected Florida’s multibillion-dollar industry, leading to decreased yields and forcing many producers to uproot and replant entire orchards, thereby raising production costs.
For property insurance, AIF is concentrated on maintaining the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund and advocates for reforms in the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to ensure it acts as a “true” insurer of last resort, through prudent management of the growth in policy numbers and minimize the financial burden on policyholders.
“The rate cap, in conjunction with unfortunate market developments such as the proliferation of litigation and the deterioration of the private market, took Citizens on an unsustainable trajectory relative to its significant policy count growth,” the organization stated. “AIF supports the legislature’s work to return Citizens to a true residual market entity and repair the litigation problems that created its quick expansion.”
AIF additionally supports temporary programs like the Reinsurance Assistance to Policyholders and the Florida Optional Reinsurance Assistance, which are designed to provide interim stability to the market. Regarding auto insurance, AIF supports reforms to address the state’s high auto insurance rates and its status as a no-fault insurance state.
The group is also pushing for broader insurance reforms across various segments, including promoting affordable healthcare for employers and employees, ensuring life insurers can fully assess risks, and monitoring workers’ compensation trends to balance employer and employee interests.
To bolster the state’s healthcare workforce, AIF supports increasing the number of graduate medical education slots available in Florida and urges consideration of other available workforce resources that are currently underutilized, alongside the removal of regulatory scope-of-practice obstacles for qualified healthcare professionals.
“Florida is now the third most populous state in the nation. Our residents reflect diversity in age, income, talent, and most importantly, needs,” stated AIF. “Almost one-fourth of the state’s physicians are aged 60 or older and will retire or cut back their practice within the next 10 years. These statistics illustrate the importance of increasing our health care workforce.”