Advocacy: Special Report
What Business Interests Want From Florida's Legislature
The Legislature will have no shortage of input from business groups in the 2011 session.
Legislative Rx: Michael Jackson, executive vice president and CEO of the Florida Pharmacy Association, says that in addition to monitoring Medicaid reform efforts, his group is pushing to:
» Allow state employees to select their pharmacy provider, lifting a requirement to use mail order.
» Include training services relating to immunizations for pharmacy school interns.
Reform: Florida CHAIN (Community Health Action Information Network), a statewide consumer advocacy organization, says it will seek to make the "medical home" concept part of any Medicaid reform — creating one agent to handle all reimbursements related to a patient's health. The group also wants the state not to expand a pilot program in several counties that requires Medicaid patients to enroll in managed care plans until it's clear that system meets the needs of all recipients.
Solar Jobs: Florida lawmakers should pass comprehensive energy legislation that would allow utilities to use "cost recovery" to help pay for renewable energy projects, says Florida developer Syd Kitson, who is seeking to build a solar-powered town of 9,500 homes and 6 million square feet of office space on the outskirts of Fort Myers. Kitson says permitting is complete for his Babcock Ranch project and that Florida Power & Light could begin work on the solar array this year if the Legislature allows utilities to pass along some of the costs of building renewable energy projects to customers.
Josh Kellam, senior vice president of Global Energy United, a Virginia-based company that manufactures solar panels, says his company is prepared to open a manufacturing facility in the Palm Beach area if the state passes the sort of bill Kitson is talking about. Kellam says Global Energy United is interested in constructing a plant to manufacture 120 megawatts of photovoltaic solar panels annually — a move he estimates would create 250 to 300 jobs.
Concrete Efforts: Clobbered by the building bust, the Florida Concrete & Products Association is fighting for policies and laws that will boost demand for its products. The group's latest pitch plays on an environmental theme: It claims that using light-colored, reflective concrete for roads — rather than dark, heat-absorbing materials such as asphalt — can cut down on the "heat island effect" that causes cities to be up to 10 degrees warmer than surrounding rural areas. Michael Murtha, president of the Florida Concrete Products Association, urges the Legislature to follow in the footsteps of Miami, which passed an ordinance requiring a cooling strategy for at least 50% of "hardscaping" within the city limits.