Advocacy: Special Report
The Legislature will have no shortage of input from business groups in the 2011 session.
From Education to Infrastructure: The Florida Chamber of Commerce's top priorities this legislative session will include:
» Education Reform: The chamber is championing many of the changes contained in last year's SB 6, including tying teacher pay to student performance and achievement.
» Regulatory Reform: Chamber leaders are working with lawmakers on a significant rewrite of the state's growth management laws and are seeking changes to the laws that will speed up permitting. The chamber also supports disposing of the state's costly port security regulations, which were rendered unnecessary by federal regulations put in place after Sept. 11, 2001.
The chamber will continue to support public pension reform that would shift public employees from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan and tort reform, including reform of the state's bad faith laws and the state's "crashworthiness doctrine." The doctrine would change the way juries apportion fault in "enhanced injury cases" by requiring them to consider the fault of all entities who contributed to the automobile crash.
Items at the forefront of lobbyist Associated Industries of Florida's agenda include:
» Regulatory Overhaul:
» Budget Issues: The group wants a federal waiver exempting the state from federal mandates of the new healthcare law; proposals to combat Medicaid fraud; and an expansion of managed care pilot programs for Medicaid recipients.
» Infrastructure: AIF is supporting both destination gambling resorts and high-speed rail.
Casinos: Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate, has resumed his quest to bring resort-style casinos gaming to the Sunshine State. Two weeks after the November elections, Adelson met privately with Gov. Rick Scott in Las Vegas to discuss his ideas.
Andy Abboud, vice president of government relations and community development at Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corp., says that Florida is one of the few states that can support a limited number of large-scale integrated resorts that include shopping, dining, gaming and entertainment. Wynn Resorts, Caesars Entertainment (previously known as Harrah's Entertainment) and Penn National Gaming are also said to be interested in expanding into Florida.
The destination-gamers emphasize the jobs angle: "If the right type of legislation is passed, the legalization of integrated resorts will create tens of thousands of jobs and millions of new visitors to Florida," Abboud told Florida Trend.
Prospects for success? Unlikely, says Tallahassee lobbyist Marc Dunbar, without some kind of subsidy or guarantee to protect Florida's existing horse racing and dog tracks. Dunbar points to Pennsylvania as a good example of a state that was able to rejuvenate its horse and harness racing industry with revenue from slot gaming.
iPoker: Rep. Joseph Abruzzo (D-Wellington) has introduced HB 77, which would allow card room operators to offer online poker in Florida.