The Manatee Chamber of Commerce recently adopted its 2016 state and federal legislative priorities and the chamber's Tallahassee team is preparing to hit the halls of the State Capitol in January to lobby on behalf of the chamber's business community.
This annual lobbying effort enables our members to have strong representation during the critical days of the Florida legislative session. Our team will engage in the law making process in several ways, including attending committee meetings, strategizing with legislative experts, meeting face to face with state representatives and senators, in addition to meeting executive branch agency heads and the Governor's office.
The chamber's Legislative Committee developed the priorities through an intensive six weeks of meetings. The research and development of top issues were derived from ongoing communication with member businesses, chamber committee meetings, business surveys, and various events and dialogue with our members throughout the year.
Our legislative priorities focus on critical issues and legislation that will result in a stronger business environment and improved quality of life, including items related to economic development, transportation, education, health care and taxes. And when the four-time Florida Chamber of the Year, National Chamber of the Year and largest chamber in the Tampa Bay Area speaks, our lawmakers listen.
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The top issues we will bring to lawmakers, agency heads and the governor's office include:
Phase out of the business rent tax.
Elimination of the manufacturing equipment sales tax.
Economic development incentives for small businesses.
Legislation streamlining the approval process for large scale economic development projects.
Providing additional funding for Enterprise Florida.
Additional per-pupil funding for K-12 public schools in line with the year 2002 levels.
PECO funding for local educational projects.
Funding of critical infrastructure needs and existing transportation programs.
Support for legislation that expands access to care for Florida residents, including children and the uninsured, providing increased quality and a reduction in overall per-patient cost of care.
The chamber's advocacy for our members
and community remains strong, with a long track record of success. We can't be the voice of business without having heard that voice. That's why we believe the time, passion and talent our members/businesses contribute in creating our robust advocacy effort is invaluable.
On behalf of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce we wish everyone a safe and wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year!
Robert P. Bartz, president, Manatee Chamber of Commerce, can be reached at BobB@ManateeChamber.com.