With Florida’s 60-day regular legislative session wrapping up Friday, lawmakers are still considering a list of important potential actions.
A number of big topics remain as our lawmakers work to find consensus between the Senate and House.
One of several areas of concern for the Manatee Chamber on behalf of the business community is protecting state trust fund dollars from being raided – particularly the transportation and housing funds.
Protecting investment in our transportation infrastructure is critically important to our state’s ability to support commerce and our quality of life. The same holds true for affordable housing.
Sadowski Trust Fund dollars are designed to be used for affordable housing for the workforce, elderly and disabled, including the ability to leverage federal funds and private partnership dollars.
The Manatee Chamber has heard from local businesses that the lack of housing that is affordable to their employees is impeding their business’ ability to grow. Housing concerns make it more difficult to attract and retain employees.
This isn’t “news” and Manatee County is not alone in facing this challenge. We’ve been working on this issue and the Chamber recently launched an Attainable Housing Task Force that we hope will be a clearinghouse and advocate for ideas that can deliver results locally.
Other issues we are monitoring include the reduction and eventual elimination of the commercial lease tax (Florida is the only state in the country with this tax), workers’ comp rates, opioid legislation and accompanying behavioral health funding, and several local budget requests.
Our community has been the beneficiary of a number of successful economic development projects as a result of the legislature’s past support of Enterprise Florida, most recently Manatee Technical College’s $200,000 grant through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund.
We continue to support economic development through our advocacy for the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund and protecting Visit Florida’s ability to market our state.
We recognize that a major pressure on preserving trust fund dollars for their intended use this year is the budget strain Florida is feeling due to Hurricane Irma, the opioid crisis and school security concerns as a result of the heartbreaking tragedy in Parkland. We recognize these pressures and our business community stands ready to support efforts to prepare and respond to these challenges.
The Manatee Chamber will host its annual Politics & Pints event on March 14. It’s an opportunity for local businesses to hear from our Manatee County delegation and better understand the complexities involved in crafting legislation to meet the needs of all Floridians.
We hope you can join us to hear about the results of the legislative session and ask questions of our lawmakers.
If you’d like more information on the event, please contact Michael Gallen at 941-748-3411.