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NFIB/Florida Small Business Day Draws Small Business Owners, Elected Leaders

Date: March 10, 2014

NFIB/Florida Small Business Day Draws Dozens Of Small Business Owners, Elected Leaders to Capitol

 

Tallahassee, FL. – March 10, 2014—The Florida office of the National Federation of Independent Business on Monday revealed its legislative agenda in anticipation of Small Business Day at the Capitol, an annual event that brings together dozens of small business owners and elected state leaders to discuss the state’s most pressing small business issues.

This year, NFIB/Florida’s leadership will kick off its Small Business Day at the Capitol with a reception at the Governor’s mansion followed by a full day of lobbying and talks with legislative leaders.

Slated to speak at this year’s small business day are: Florida’s Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera; Jeff Atwater, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer; Don Gaetz, President of the Florida Senate; Will Weatherford, Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives; and many others.

“This event is one-of-a-kind, and a tremendous opportunity for the small business owners of Florida to network with fellow business owners and to meet and speak directly with those political leaders who represent them, said NFIB Florida Executive Director Bill Herrle. “We are grateful to the small business owners who take the time to come to Tallahassee, and equally appreciative of the lawmakers who join us to discuss the legislative issues most important to the small business community.”

A full day of speakers and legislative visits on Tuesday will wrap up with a reception and dinner featuring the co-host of Fox and Friends Weekend, Tucker Carlson for members of the NFIB Florida Leadership Trust.  

For more information about the Small Business Day at the Capitol event and for a full legislative agenda, please visit: www.nfib.com/fl


The NFIB Florida legislative agenda has been provided (below):


Good Bills

 

Cutting Taxes and Fees

·         SB 776/HB 767 (Corporate Filing Fees) Support

·         SB 176/HB 11 (Commercial Leases)  Support

·         SB 156/HB 61 (Auto Tag Fees) Support

·         SB 134 (Corporate income Tax) Support

·         SB 266 (Communications Services Tax)  Support

 

Tort Reform

·         SB 1128/HB 379 (Accuracy in Medical Damages) Support

·         HB 187 (Bad Faith) Support

 

Good Governance

·         SB 1114 (Pension Bill) Support

 

Messages to Washington DC

·         SB 658/HB 625 (Balanced Budget) Support

·         SB 368/HB 261 (Single Subject) Support

·         SB 476/HB 381 (Balanced Budget, Congressional Term Limits, 10th Amendment Limitation) Support

 

Bad Bills

 

Increased Penalties for Workplace Discrimination

·         SB 220/HB 105 (Pregnancy Bill) Oppose  

·         SB 234/HB 505 (Criminal History) Oppose

·         SB 348/HB 239 (Sexual Orientation Bill) Oppose

·         SB 548/HB 451 (Workplace Bullying) Oppose

·         SB 324 (Credit History) Oppose

·         SB 198/HB 527 (Social Media) Oppose

·         SB 206/HB 163 (Fair Pay Bill)  Oppose

 

Increased Minimum Wage

·         SB 456/HB 385 (Minimum Wage)  Oppose

 

Other NFIB Policy Position

·         Federally Funded Medicaid Expansion  Oppose


 

CUTTING TAXES AND FEES – CORPORATE FILING FEES

SB 776 by Sen. Wilton Simpson (R – New Port Richey) /HB 767 by Rep. Jose Diaz (R – Miami)

Cuts annual corporate filing fees for small businesses.  These fees are due by May 1st each year and carry a $400 late fee if they are turned in even a day late.  The bill will create an annual savings of $25 for corporations and $13.75 for LLCs.  The bill also eliminates the $400 late fee and replaces it with a tiered system that starts with a $125 late fee for reports turned in up to 30 days late and increases to $400 for reports turned in 3 months late.

NFIB supports this proposal to ease the tax burden on the job creators in this state.

 

CUTTING TAXES AND FEES – TAX ON COMMERCIAL LEASES

SB 176 by Sen. Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange) /HB 11 by Rep. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota)

Reduces a portion of the sales taxes paid by businesses to rent facilities space in Florida.    Florida is the only state in the country that collects sales tax on commercial rents.  By reducing or eliminating this one-of-a-kind tax, Florida will become more competitive with other states in terms of attracting new businesses.

NFIB supports efforts to reduce and eliminate sales tax on commercial rents. 

 

CUTTING TAXES AND FEES – LICENSE PLATES

SB 156 by Sen. Joe Negron (R-Palm City) /HB 61 by Rep. Mike Hill (R-Pensacola)

Reduces some of the fees required to register a motor vehicle, vessel or mobile home, and returns them to the amount required prior to September 1, 2009. The fee reductions result in up to a $25 per year savings in the amount paid to register a motor vehicle, in addition to other related fee cuts. 

NFIB supports efforts to roll back the tax and fee increases that were approved during the previous administration. 

 

CUTTING TAXES AND FEES – CORPORATE INCOME TAX

SB 134 by Sen. Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange)

Increases the corporate income tax exemption from $50,000 to $75,000 for businesses.  This increased exemption will ensure that 80% of Florida’s businesses are not subject to a corporate income tax.

NFIB supports efforts to eliminate the corporate income tax.  Eliminating the corporate income tax will allow businesses to hire more employees and provide more benefits to Florida’s families. 

 

CUTTING TAXES AND FEES - COMMUNICATIONS SERVICES TAX

SB 266 by Senator Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange)

Lowers communications services tax rates by 2 percent, reducing the general rate from 6.65 percent to 4.65 percent and the rate on direct-to-home satellite from 10.8 percent to 8.8 percent. The bill also changes the distribution to local governments to ensure that local governments are held harmless by the bill.  This bill is part of an overall effort to reduce taxes and fees on small businesses.  

NFIB supports any tax and fee cut that ease the burden on our small businesses and allow them to create more jobs. 

 

ACCURACY IN DAMAGES

SB 1128 by Sen. Garrett Richter (R-Naples) /HB 379 by Rep. Charles David Hood (R – Daytona Beach)

 

Promotes accuracy in medical damages in torts cases by allowing defense attorneys to present to juries medical expenses actually paid by the plaintiff and/or their insurer.  In current practice, juries are typically presented with the medical expenses as billed by the provider, but the plaintiff's medical bills are often separately settled between the plaintiff or their insurer for less.   In these circumstances, the defendant often ends up paying for medical damages that have never been paid nor ever will be paid.

The bill addresses another important issue.  Under current law, a business owner defendant can be liable for any medical malpractice committed in connection with the original injury giving rise to the lawsuit.  This is known as the "Stuart Jury Instruction".  This leaves the defendant in a no-win situation whereby raising a question of medically un-necessary treatments is construed as an admission of medical mal-practice, for which the defendant is held responsible.  The legislation would allow the defendant to raise issues of non-medically necessary charges without it becoming a de-facto admission of medical negligence.

NFIB supports this legislation.

 

BAD FAITH LAWSUIT REFORM

SB 1494 by Sen. John Thrasher (R-St. Augustine/HB 187 by Rep. Kathleen Passidomo (R – Naples)

NFIB supports legislation to limit the practice of suing for "bad faith" whereby a business's insurer is sued for acting in bad faith in settling a claim.  This practice is utilized by plaintiff's attorneys to gain awards in excess of the policy limits.  It is, in essence, the new route to "deep pockets".  Any insurance system where insurers are compelled to pay awards beyond the policy limits insured for is in the long run an untenable insurance system.

 

PUBLIC SECTOR PENSION REFORM

SB 1114 by Senate Committee on Community Affairs

Creates a new “cash balance” retirement plan for state employees featuring individual employee accounts that are guaranteed a minimum retirement benefit.  Cash balance accounts would be funded by employee and employer contributions based on a percentage of monthly compensation, a guaranteed 2 percent interest on the account balance, and 75 percent of any investment returns over 2 percent.

The bill also bars all future public state employees (except police and fire) from choosing the defined benefit plan (which is currently only 85.9% funded.) 

NFIB supports this effort by the Florida legislature to fix a broken pension system and create a retirement system that is 100% fiscally solvent.

 

BALANCED FEDERAL BUDGET

SM 658 by Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) /HB 625 by Rep. John Wood (R – Winter Haven)

Application to the U.S. Congress calling upon Congress to convene an Article V constitutional convention.  The convention would be limited to proposing an amendment to the Constitution which requires that:

·         except in a national emergency, the total of all federal appropriations for any fiscal year may not exceed the total of all estimated federal revenues for that fiscal year. 

45 of 50 states have similar balanced budget requirements in their respective states.  There are currently 19 other applications that have already been submitted with 34 total applications needed to trigger the Article V convention. 

NFIB is supports this memorial that calls on Congress to balance its budget.


SINGLE SUBJECT LAW FOR FEDERAL LEGISLATION

SM 368 by Sen. Wilton Simpson (R -New Port Richey) /HB 261 by Rep. Halsey Beshears (R-Apalachicola)

Application to the U.S. Congress calling upon Congress to convene an Article V constitutional convention.  The convention would be limited to proposing an amendment to the Constitution which:

·         prohibits Congress from passing a bill that embraces more than one subject; and

·         requires that the subject be clearly expressed in the bill’s title.

This proposed constitutional amendment would cut down on pork barrel spending projects which tend to get tacked on in the 11th hour to a bill to ensure support from particular members of congress.

NFIB supports this constitutional amendment to help address federal spending. 

 

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION FOR TRIO OF ISSUES

SM 476 by Sen. Alan Hays (R - Umatilla) /HB 625 by Rep. John Wood (R – Winter Haven)

Application to the U.S. Congress calling upon Congress to convene an Article V constitutional amendments convention for the sole purposes of proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution to:

·         impose fiscal restraints on the federal government;

·         limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government;  and

·         limit the terms of office for federal officials and members of Congress.

NFIB supports this memorial that calls on Congress to get its house in order.

WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION DAMAGES INCREASE

SB 220 by Sen. Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando) /HB 105 by Rep. Lori Berman (D-Boynton Beach)

Adds pregnancy as a protected class under Florida's Civil Rights Laws.  Pregnancy in the workplace is already specifically protected under federal law.  Federal law caps damages for cases involving businesses with between 15 and 100 employees at $50,000.  State civil rights cases cap damages at $100,000, so the bill has the effect of doubling small businesses liability exposure to workplace pregnancy discrimination suits.

Furthermore, federal law caps damages for businesses with more than 500 employees at $300,000, and big businesses would have their maximum damages cut by two-thirds under the state across-the-board damages cap of $100,000.

In addition, the bill extends the time to file the case from 90 days to one year.

NFIB is opposed to the elements of the proposal that increase small business owners liability exposure to workplace discrimination lawsuits related to pregnancy beyond the well-established protections already afforded under federal law.

 

CREATING A PROTECTED CLASS FOR CONVICTED CRIMINALS

SB 234 by Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) /HB 505 by Rep. Stafford (D-Opa Locka)

Prohibits an employer from inquiring into or considering an applicant’s criminal record on an initial employment application. The bill allows an employer to inquire into an applicant’s criminal history only after the applicant’s qualifications have been screened and the employer has determined that the applicant meets the minimum employment requirements specified for a given position.

The bill creates a civil cause of action for a job applicant to sue a prospective employer for requiring that the applicant disclose criminal history in the initial application.

NFIB opposes attempts by the legislature to interfere in the hiring process of small businesses.  Small businesses represent the life’s work of many of our members, they should be allowed to pre-screen applicants for violent criminal history.

NEW CAUSE OF ACTION FOR WORKPLACE LAWSUITS

SB 348 by Sen. Joseph Abruzzo (D-Wellington) /HB 239 by Rep. Joe Saunders (D-Orlando)

Adds sexual orientation and gender identity/expression as a protected class under Florida's Civil Rights Laws.  There is no similar provision in Federal Law so these cases would be brought in state courts only.  State civil rights cases cap damages at $100,000, so the bill has the effect of creating liability exposure for small businesses to this new form of workplace discrimination.   

The bill also expands the civil liability for violations to all protected classes to include the perception of a protected class.   This will expand liabilities to small business owners by allowing damages to be awarded not only for actual violations of state and federal law, but it also awards damages based on a judgment of an employer’s perception of whether a person falls into a protected class. 

NFIB is opposed to this proposal that would increase small business owners liability exposure to workplace discrimination lawsuits related to perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.

 

WORKPLACE BULLYING

SB 548 by Sen. David Simmons (R – Altamonte Springs) /HB 451 by Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen (R – Fort Myers)

 

Criminalizes workplace harassment and workplace cyberbullying.  The bill makes it a 1st degree misdemeanor “to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and which does not serve a legitimate purpose.”

NFIB supports the overall goal of the bill to protect young children from adult bullies, but NFIB opposes the provisions in this bill that create criminal penalties in the workplace.


PROHIBITING EMPLOYERS FROM LOOKING AT EMPLOYEE CREDIT REPORTS

SB 324 by Sen. Nancy Detert (R-Venice)

Prohibits the use of a credit report by an employer for making hiring decisions.   The bill creates a new cause of action for an applicant to sue a prospective employer for violations of this new law.

The bill does provide certain exemptions to this new law if a credit report is required by state for federal law, or if credit history is substantially related to the job.

NFIB is opposed to this bill because it opens up small business owners to a new line of civil liability.


SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE WORKPLACE

SB 198 by Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) /HB 527 by Rep. Karen Castor Dentel (D-Maitland)

Prohibits employers from requiring or requesting that an employee or a prospective employee provide a user name, password, or other means of accessing a social media account, unless it is an account used for business purposes. An employer may not take an adverse employment action against an employee or refuse to hire a prospective employee based on a refusal to provide such access. Employers who violate these provisions may be subject to a civil action and if the employee or prospective employee prevails, he or she may be granted injunctive relief or may recover actual damages or $500 for each violation, whichever is greater. A prevailing employee or prospective employee may also recover court costs and reasonable attorney fees.

NFIB opposes provisions within this bill that increase small business liability to lawsuits.

 

WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION DAMAGES INCREASE

SB 206 by Sen. Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa) /HB 163 by Rep. Janet Cruz (D-Tampa)

Directs the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and the Florida Commission on Human Relations to be proactive in prosecuting employers who violate the law regarding equal pay.  It also directs two state agencies to assist women, who accuse their employers of equal pay violations, in obtaining a civil remedy.

The bill also makes the Florida Commission on Human Relations the primary enforcer of this provision, as well as requires them to interpret the law.

NFIB is opposed to the elements of the proposal that increase small business owners liability exposure to workplace discrimination lawsuits related to equal pay violations beyond the well-established protections already afforded under federal law.


MINIMUM WAGE

SB 456 by Sen. Dwight Bullard (D-Cutler Bay) /HB 385 by Rep. Cynthia Stafford (D-Opa Locka)

Raises the state minimum wage from $7.93/HR to $10.10/HR.

NFIB opposes efforts to increase the state minimum wage which is already higher than the federal minimum wage.   A majority of academic studies find that an increase in the minimum wage has negative effects on employment levels. 


MEDICAID EXPANSION

NFIB opposes Medicaid Expansion dependent on federal transfer payments to the state.  Florida's independent business owners feel that the long-term budget obligation inherent in such an expansion will not be met by the federal government.  NFIB would support limited Medicaid expansion focusing on the most needy and funded by state revenue.

 

 

 

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