With the 2016 Legislative Session kicking off on Tuesday, tradition dictates that those in the know will be at the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) pre-session welcome back reception for legislators, lobbyists and sundry politicos.
This year marks the 30th time the organization – Florida’s premier business lobby – has held the event, according to spokeswoman Sarah Bascom.
“We have invited all lawmakers, the governor and cabinet, business leaders and AIF members, and we expect between 2,000 and 3,000 guests,” she said.
On Friday, AIF released its 2016 legislative priorities, including getting behind Gov. Rick Scott‘s continued push to cut taxes.
For example, “AIF joins the Governor in calling for a reduction in business rent/commercial lease tax, permanently eliminating sales tax on manufacturing machinery and equipment, and permanently eliminating income tax on manufacturing and retail businesses,” President Tom Feeney said in a statement.
On some other issues, the organization:
- Supports bringing in destination casinos, also known as integrated resorts, but also creating an independent gaming commission.
- Opposes efforts to mandate the use of the E-Verify system by employers, saying immigration reform should be done at the federal level.
- Supports “high-quality virtual and online education opportunities for all students.”
- Opposes the placing of “additional regulatory burdens on public charter schools.”
- Supports “defining STEMM degrees to include medical professionals seeking high-technology degrees such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, bio-technologists and others. This should result in high-wage salaries for thousands of new entrants into the work- force in these areas.”
- Opposes any legislation that would “prohibit well stimulation techniques, hydraulic fracturing (fracking) or otherwise limit new technological advances.”
- Supports Gov. Scott’s “proposed $50 million in funding for springs recovery efforts.”
- Opposes claim bills that “attempt to expand current law to create new — or modify existing — legal precedents and causes of action for the benefit of trial lawyers.”
It’s unlikely, however, that much “wonk talk” will occur at the party. The affair is meant to be a festive last-night-before-the-work-begins kind of deal.
Though the main building is usually open for the event, the party largely takes place in AIF’s expansive, landscaped “backyard.”
That means: Wear a sweater. Because session is early this year, instead of Tallahassee’s more balmy March temperatures, the forecast for early Monday evening is a brisk but sunny 52 degrees, going down to – yipes – 44 degrees by 8 p.m.
Despite the chill, expect a wide variety of cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and much bon vivant-ing. If you’re going, cheers.