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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Online sales tax, insurance fraud, regulation top Florida Chamber legislative agenda



The Florida Chamber of Commerce, one of Gov. Rick Scott's top allies, brought a controversial agenda into the legislative session, but were among the big winners when the hankies dropped on the lawmaking.

The pro-business group says it will continue to fight tea party proposals to require E-Verify on state businesses while pushing a 63-point plan that they say will cut taxes and regulation, slow down auto insurance fraud close the Intenet sales tax loophole. The Chamber, which backs Expedia and Orbitz and other online travel companies that have avoided paying about $440 million in taxes to Florida, wants the state to make online retailers, like Amazon, pay taxes on their sales in the state.

Click here for more information from the Chamber's website. Or keep reading for highlights from the group's press release today.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce Unveils 2012 Agenda for Jobs

TALLAHASSEE, FL (October 20, 2011) – The recognized voice of business in Florida, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, today unveiled its 2012 agenda for jobs – a legislative agenda aimed at strengthening Florida’s future by increasing private sector job creation, getting Floridians back to work and lowering the cost of doing business for job creators.

“The Florida Chamber is showing up day after day and making sure the right things happen in Florida. I know that by working the Florida Chamber, and business owners across Florida, we can reach these goals and expand economic opportunities for all Floridians,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott.

“Over the next few years, Florida should lead the nation in private sector job growth, show Washington and competing states how it’s done and become the place where people want to live, work and pursue their dreams,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The Florida Chamber’s agenda for jobs focuses on further transitioning Florida to an innovation-based economy and puts the long-term health of Florida ahead of short-term politics.”

Following a successful 2011 Legislative Session in which 31 of 36 issues on the Florida Chamber’s agenda for jobs passed without a single new tax, higher fee, new regulation or union-backed mandate, there is still much work yet to be done.

“Government doesn’t create jobs, private sector businesses do,” said Allan Bense, chair of the Florida Chamber Board of Directors and partner with GAC Contractors in Panama City. “Florida’s business community is prepared to lead the way toward putting Floridians back to work and growing our economy.  Securing Florida’s future calls for enacting policies that promote and sustain stronger economic growth, and addressing the fiscal and competitive challenges that smother growth and drive away jobs.”

“As the leading voice of Florida’s business community, we have a responsibility to make private sector job creation the top priority for our state,” said Anthony Connelly, chair-elect of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and senior vice president and chief financial officer, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, U.S.

The Florida Chamber’s agenda for jobs, which is focused around the Six Pillars of Florida’s Future, calls for:

· TALENT SUPPLY & EDUCATION: Preparing students to compete in Florida’s global marketplace,
· INNOVATION & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Further diversify Florida’s economy,
· INFRASTRUCTURE & GROWTH LEADERSHIP: Better planning and smarter growth,
· BUSINESS CLIMATE & COMPETITIVENESS: Positioning Florida to become one of the most competitive business climates in the global marketplace,
· CIVIC & GOVERNMENT SYSTEMS: Streamlining government systems, and
· QUALITY OF LIFE & QUALITY PLACES: Maintaining Florida’s high quality of life.

Although a complete set of recommendations is included in our 2012 Where We Stand Publication, sample recommendations from the 2012 Florida Business Agenda include:

· Talent Supply & Education: (Examples include)
-Advocating for expanded use of technology in the classroom to support Florida’s transition into the new economy,
-Maintaining Florida’s status as a national leader in producing a talented workforce through high-value programs like the Quick Response Training program,
-Promoting more flexibility, efficiency and performance in higher education and increasing the number of STEM baccalaureate degrees, and
-Enhancing parental choice in education.

· Innovation & Economic Development: (Examples include)
-Further transforming Florida’s economy through the trade, logistics, manufacturing aerospace and related industries,
-Continue to pursue Research and Development activities to build on Florida’s economic diversification and burgeoning innovation brand,
-Strengthening Florida’s manufacturing base by making Florida more competitive by providing targeted and timely incentives, and
-Investing in intermodal connections and viable inland ports in order to achieve the goal of doubling Florida-origin exports and increased manufacturing activity.

· Infrastructure & Growth Leadership: (Examples include)
-Eliminating regulatory roadblocks and incentivizing governments to turn to the private sector to speed-up shovel ready transportation projects,
-Stopping the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Florida-only numeric nutrient criteria rulemaking (A Florida-specific water mandate),
-Supporting the creation of science-based water quality standards to protect Florida’s natural resources, and
-Advocating for a comprehensive energy policy that increases energy independence and promotes sustainable economic growth.

· Business Climate & Competitiveness: (Examples include)
-Reforming Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system (PIP) to cut down on fraud and abuse – a billion dollar problem that raises the cost of living for Floridians,
-Stabilizing and lowering unemployment compensation tax increases for Florida’s job creators,
-Ensuring workers’ compensation premiums are fair and not inflated with unnecessary costs by closing the loophole on drug repackaging contracts that are inflating the price of medication and responsible for nearly one-third of the 8.9 percent increase and costing Florida employers an additional $100 million annually, and
-Ensuring the taxpayer subsidized Citizens Property Insurance Corporation becomes the insurer of last resort, not first resort.

· Civic & Government Systems: (Examples include)
-Closing the Internet sales tax loophole and supporting E-fairness for Florida based retailers,
-Removing duplicative, outdated, obsolete rules, permitting processes and statues,
-Streamlining the permitting process to limit excessive costs on employers and encourage efficiency for business development and job creation,
-Supporting a one-stop shop venue that provides existing and new businesses with permitting, licensing and regulatory assistance, and
-Supporting 401(k)-style defined contribution retirement programs for new government employees.

· Quality of Life & Quality Places: (Examples include)
-Supporting medical legal reform efforts aimed at stabilizing health care costs,
-Protecting Florida’s future by maintaining our longstanding opposition to the expansion of casino gambling in Florida.
-Addressing issues surrounding the talent gap of medical students educated in Florida leaving the state for their residency program and not returning to practice medicine in Florida

[Last modified: Thursday, October 20, 2011 12:11pm]


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