The 2018 legislative session was a good one for the state’s business community, but a report released Thursday by the Florida Chamber of Commerce says state lawmakers left too much unfinished business on the table when they left Tallahassee last month.
Florida Chamber’s 2018 Legislative Report Card shows lawmakers earned higher grades this year on pro-business issues such as cutting red tape and taxes, investing in infrastructure, economic development and tourism marketing, and reforming education.
“While there is always room for improvement and more work to be done, this legislative session’s grades showed many legislators took steps in the right direction on several policy fronts and voted to prevent harmful ideas from becoming law,” said David Hart, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber. “We look forward to a session when every legislator earns an “A” and Florida’s competitiveness outranks every other state.”
But the statewide business organization says too many key issues went unresolved, specifically four issues that were priorities for the Chamber.
One of those was stabilizing Florida’s workers’ comp system that has resulted in what is estimated to be a $1.5 billion cost increase to businesses.
The Chamber also points to the Legislature’s inability to enact civil law reforms to deal with what the business group calls the state’s “lawsuit abuse crisis.”
Lawmakers also failed to address what is known as Assignment of Benefits when car and homeowners grant contractors authority to oversee repairs to their vehicles or homes. Some unscrupulous third-party contractors abuse the system driving up property and auto insurance rates.
Businesses had also hoped legislators would have invested more in career colleges to enable more Floridians to find better jobs.
Overall, the Chamber says it was a good year.
After tabulating more than 2,900 votes cast during the 2018 legislative session, 47 percent of state lawmakers earned an “A” (90-100) on pro-jobs issues outlined in the Florida Chamber’s 2018 Business Agenda. That a jump from just 9 percent last year.
The Florida Chamber awarded 15 legislators its Distinguished Advocate award recognizing lawmakers who fought for the passage of pro-business legislation.
“We’re pleased to recognize members of the Florida Legislature with Distinguished Advocate awards who had the courage to put free enterprise principles for job creation above special interest,” said Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson.
The 15 lawmakers honored with a Distinguished Advocate Award include Sen. Bill Galvano and Rep. Jose Oliva for their work on the school safety package passed by the Legislature.
Here is the full list of all 15 legislators to receive a Distinguished Advocate Award:
- Representative Ben Diamond
- Representative Manny Diaz
- Representative Joe Gruters
- Representative Clay Ingram
- Representative Mike La Rosa
- Representative Jose Oliva
- Representative Scott Plakon
- Representative Holly Raschein
- Representative Paul Renner
- Representative Jay Trumbull
- Senator Dennis Baxley
- Senator Bill Galvano
- Senator David Simmons
- Senator Wilton Simpson
- Senator Kelli Stargel