The Florida Chamber of Commerce has released its list of policy priorities on the eve of the 2020 Legislative Session.
“The Florida Chamber’s annual jobs and competitiveness agenda — the Florida Business Agenda — is a set of priorities that will help grow private sector jobs, continue to create economic opportunity in Florida and further diversify our economy,” said Charles Caulkins, Chair of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Partner at Fisher Phillips.
The pro-business group says lawmakers need to pass bills to lower the cost of living and cost of doing business in order for the state to meet its predictions of 200,000 new jobs and keep the odds of recession low.
“If Florida was a stock, it would be considered a strong buy. While Florida’s economic outlook for 2020 is positive, it’s not without risks which is why passing the Florida Chamber’s Jobs Agenda is so important,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
To accomplish a lower cost of living, the Chamber recommends legislation to improve Florida’s legal climate.
Though the Sunshine State recently slipped out of the top-10 on the American Tort Reform Association’s annual “Judicial Hellholes” list, there is still room for improvement — the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform ranks the state No. 46 out of 50, mainly due to the way lawsuits are handled.
“If we make the legal climate so it’s based on the clients rather than the attorneys, I think that would be a better climate,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said when the national survey ranking Florida’s lawsuit climate among the nation’s worst was released.
With reforms in place, the Chamber says the average Florida family would save about $4,000.
As far as reducing the cost of doing business, the prescription is a cut to the commercial rents sales tax.
Florida is the only state in the nation to charge sales tax on commercial leases and though the rate has been cut in recent years, the Chamber says further reductions are in order.
The group says it’s also time to address the uneven playing field between brick-and-mortars and online retailers by adding some teeth to online sales tax collections rules.
Lawmakers are working toward that, with Sarasota Republican Sen. Joe Gruters naming it one of his top priorities for the 2020 Session. The change is also a major priority for the Florida Retail Federation.
With Florida still in the midst of a population boom, the Chamber says now is also the time to prep for future growth by developing an educational system that produces career-ready workers. According to www.TheFloridaScorecard.org, there are 284,800 jobs looking for people and 323,000 people looking for jobs and standing between the two is often a lack of applicable skills.
Remedying that means championing early learning, talent and workforce shortage solutions.
A full account of the Chamber’s priorities is available on its website.