Florida TaxWatch was on the winning side of several policy fights during the 2022 Legislative Session, often making its case with a trove of research to back it up.
Perhaps their most visible effort was the data privacy bill (HB 9). The measure would have given consumers more control over how their online data, including the ability to request businesses delete their personal data or refrain from selling it.
The proposal passed the House with bipartisan support and polling indicated it was equally popular among voters. However, FTW research showed it would have reduced Florida’s gross operating surplus — the total profit of private enterprise sans immediate costs and workers — by 3.9%. That amounts to a $21 billion hit to the state economy.
One of the costlier provisions, which would have allowed consumers to sue businesses that shared personal information, was the death blow in the Senate.
At the other end of the spectrum, FTW was one of the most vocal advocates for state investment into broadband expansion. An FTW report showed that a dearth of high-speed internet access in a handful of Florida counties was burdening taxpayers with as much as $100 million a month in economic and social costs.
FTW was also a key voice in support of requiring local governments to produce business impact statements to determine the potential economic impact of ordinances. The requirement was included in SB 620, which cleared the Legislature.
However, FTW didn’t spare criticism of a provision in the bill — a leadership priority — that would provide a route for businesses to seek damages from local governments if they can prove a new law caused a 15% income loss in one year.
They warned that it could open the door to “financially motivated and malicious lawsuits,” costing local governments — and ultimately taxpayers — as much as $900 million a year.
Though the bill that went to the Governor allows for businesses to challenge ordinances, it was tempered to exempt ordinances related to procurement or intended to promote, enable or facilitate economic competition. Another major change specified that businesses must have been within the jurisdiction for three years, not just in the state.
Though Sine Die is on the horizon, FTW still has plenty of work to do — namely, digging through the record-setting $112 billion budget to rout out so-called “Budget Turkeys.”