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2013 AIF Voting Records Report:
Legislators’ Votes Make Florida an Attractive Place to Do Business  

May 29, 2013

Session Wrap-Up

TALLAHASSEE – Released today, the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) 2013 Voting Records Report reveals that the Florida Senate is up 7 percentage points from last year, while the Florida House of Representatives maintained its overall average of 89 percent, matching last year’s percentage.

AIF analyzed more than 10,451 votes cast on 89 bills that have a major impact on Florida businesses, including the elimination of sales tax on the purchase of manufacturing machinery and equipment, Manufacturing Competitiveness Act, health care reform, Career and Professional Education Act of 2013, environmental and Numeric Nutrient Criteria regulations, property insurance reform and preservation of the premium tax credits insurance companies receive for Florida employees’ salaries – each of which was a priority for the association.

“We continue to see strong support in both the Senate and House for a business-friendly climate, which is absolutely essential to luring more businesses to Florida. This year marked important regulatory reforms, legal reforms and support for tax structures that keep our native businesses competitive, and make Florida a much more attractive place to locate a business,” said Tom Feeney, AIF President and CEO. “However, a watered-down property insurance bill and legislative inaction on right-sizing the Cat Fund leave Florida’s policyholders at risk. And, employers are still shouldering the burden of indirect costs associated with paying for the health care of Florida’s uninsured. As we look toward the 2014 Legislative Session, legislators must give serious consideration to how we can bring about meaningful reform to our health care and property insurance systems, and address these major cost drivers to business that could prevent Florida from moving forward.”

The gap between Democrats’ and Republicans’ voting records on pro-business legislation continued to decrease this year. The disparity between parties narrowed from a difference of 26 percent last year to 19 percent this year.

“This year we also saw more congruence between Republicans and Democrats on pro-business policies that will create more jobs and economic growth for Florida. While there is certainly more work to done on reaching alignment on the business-friendly policies that will create the economic sustainability we need in the Sunshine State, seeing increased support from both sides of the aisle is encouraging,” added Feeney.

A total of 27 Senators voted with AIF 90 percent of the time or more. Overall, 95 percent of Senate Republicans and 85 percent of Senate Democrats voted in favor of Florida businesses. Leading the Senate was Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) with an AIF voting record of 99 percent. Top-scoring Democrats included Sen. Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee) and Sen. Gwen Margolis (D-Miami) at 93 and 91 percents respectively. The legislator with the highest number of votes for the business community – 100 – was Sen. Garrett Richter (R-Naples), who was instrumental in the passage of AIF priority bills related to the expansion of certified optometrists’ scope of practice and expert witness testimony.

Nearly two-thirds of all House members voted with AIF 90 percent of the time or more, including Speaker-designate Steve Crisafulli (R-Merritt Island) at 99 percent. House Republicans scored an average of 98 percent and House Democrats came in with a 75 percent average. Rep. Clay Ingram (R-Pensacola) cast the highest number of votes in favor of Florida business with 77 for and only one against. Following closely behind was Rep. Ben Albritton (R-Wauchula), who recorded 76 votes for AIF priorities and one against. Rep. Katie Edwards (D-Plantation) led House Democrats at 95 percent.

The annual Voting Records Report compares state lawmakers’ votes on legislation impacting Florida’s businesses and employers to AIF’s legislative priorities for that year. It documents every time a legislator voted for and against the business community, which then determines his/her voting record percentage. In addition to floor and floor amendment votes, the report also accounts for votes legislators cast on committee/subcommittee bills and committee/subcommittee amendments. Since many critical business issues never make it to the floor, AIF’s voting records calculation provides a complete picture of members’ votes. Each vote cast is measured equally with no added points for certain bills.

Tracking, analyzing and reporting legislators’ votes on business issues since 1979, AIF has made its archives of voting record data available online through a robust, one-of-a-kind tool that enables viewers to access 38 years of information by year, political party, legislator name, subject and chamber.

In the coming weeks, AIF will announce the 2013 Champion for Business Awards, which recognizes elected officials who have proven to be strong and forceful advocates for Florida business. These lawmakers go above and beyond the call of duty regardless of their voting record. Award recipients are chosen for their efforts in passing or defeating legislation critical to maintaining a vibrant free-enterprise system.

For more information on AIF’s 2013 Voting Records Report, visit aif.com.