As you may or may not know, the Florida Legislative session begins early this year, January 12, in order to give those running for office time to campaign. With that earlier start, our delegation has been looking at issues that will come up during this year. While the Chamber's government affairs committee is formulating our legislative agenda, I thought I would share with you some of the things that the Florida Chamber believes will be on the horizon for this year that will affect business. These are just a few of the issues outlined below. Again, the Winter Haven Chamber has not taken a position on these issues as we continue to educate ourselves on them, but if you have feelings on any of these, please share in the comments section. Read more below.
For more than 10 years, the Florida Chamber has led efforts to help lower workers’ comp rates by almost 60 percent. In 2003, when Florida’s rates were the second highest in the country, a united business community joined with the Florida Chamber in successfully urging elected leaders to address cost drivers like outrageous, higher-than-the-national-average plaintiff lawyer fees. As a result, both injured workersand job creators benefited. Injured workers continued to receive access to quality care and the court system, while job creators experienced the benefits of cost controls and reining in of attorney fees.
Yet at this moment, three cases are before Florida’s Supreme Court which could significantly alter Florida’s currently low workers’ comp rates. Listen below to the Florida Chamber's latest Series on Free Enterprise, where Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson addresses Florida's current workers' comp situation and how the Supreme Court’s pending cases could send rates spiraling in the wrong direction. The video below is of a recent radio interview about the Worker's Comp issue by the Florida Chamber director, Mark Wilson.
Phasing Out of the Florida "Business Rent Tax"
The Business Rent Tax, formerly known as the sales tax on commercial leases, charges a six percent sales tax on space that is leased. Florida is currently the only state in the nation that charges a Business Rent Tax. According to the Florida Chamber, that means in Florida, businesses pay a six percent tax on the space they lease, including added costs to that lease, such as property taxes, maintenance and the cost of insurance — meaning some businesses are subject to double taxation. This tax costs Florida businesses $1.7 billion every single year. A one percent reduction this year advocated by the Florida Chamber would keep $287 million in the hands of Florida’s job creators, allowing them to hire additional employees, make improvements and reinvest back into their businesses. The goal is to fully phase out this tax over the next six years. There are some obvious questions like, where would Florida make up the money collected through that tax, etc. To learn more about FAQ and the Florida Chamber's stance on this issue click here.
Elimination of the Sales Tax on Manufacturing Machinery and Equipment
In 2013, the Florida Chamber, thanks to efforts by Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature, led the charge with the Manufacturers Association of Florida to help create a program that would reduce the Sales Tax on Manufacturing Machinery and Equipment for three years. But Florida’s manufacturers need a more permanent solution. In order to provide Florida manufacturers with predictability and certainty and help continue growing Florida’s manufacturing industry, the Florida Chamber has long supported permanently eliminating the Sales Tax on Manufacturing Machinery and Equipment.
The Florida Chamber is also conducting their Small Business Index Survey to find out what issues are important to small business. The survey is open until December 18 and you can participate here.
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