2018 NFIB/Florida Legislative Issues and Priorities
Notification of Changes in Business Filings (Support)
A new form of criminal activity is cropping up in Florida where fraudulent paperwork is filed with the Division of Corporations to change the ownership structure of businesses in order to apply for credit cards and take out loans against those businesses. NFIB/Florida supports legislation to require the Florida Division of Corporations to notify business owners if any changes are made to their articles of incorporation.
Taxpayer Advocate Reforms (Support)
The Taxpayer Advocate works within the Florida Department of Revenue to act as a mediator between the taxpayers and the Department. They are empowered to assist taxpayers by cutting through the red tape and serving as a check on the power of the Department of Revenue. Legislative efforts to change the way they are appointed and alter their reporting structure would afford them more independence to act on behalf of taxpayers. NFIB/Florida supports providing more independence to the Taxpayer Advocate.
Reforming the Workers’ Compensation System
Stabilizing the Workers’ Comp System (Support)
Attorneys’ fees in workers’ comp cases are skyrocketing as a result of the Castellanos Supreme Court decision. Overall, workers’ comp rates are being kept in check by employers creating safer workplaces, but the system remains unbalanced and we’ll soon see data that shows rates rising as a result of unrestricted attorneys’ fees. NFIB/Florida supports legislation to reduce skyrocketing attorneys’ fees in the workers’ compensation system.
Cutting Taxes for Small Business Owners
Cutting the Business Rent Tax (Support)
All small business owners who lease their business space pay a tax on the rent. Florida is the only state that charges this 5.8 percent sales tax. While NFIB, alongside with other business groups, successfully lobbied to bring the rate down from 6 percent in 2017, NFIB is fighting to continue to cut this tax, which comes directly out of small business owners’ bottom lines. NFIB/Florida supports cutting the business rent tax.
Improving Healthcare for Floridians
Direct Primary Care (Support)
Under the direct primary healthcare model, small businesses can contract with a primary care physician and pay a manageable monthly membership fee to provide primary care services to employees. These contracts would be supplemented with a “wraparound” insurance policy that provides catastrophic coverage for employees who have major medical emergencies. This model gives business owners and their employees access to primary care, including many clinical procedures offered by primary care physicians, at a fraction of the cost of traditional health insurance policies. NFIB/Florida supports legislation to clarify that direct primary care arrangements are not classified as health insurance to allow more physicians to offer these discounted services to business owners.
Eliminating Certificate of Need (Support)
The Certificate of Need (CON) program is a burdensome regulatory process that requires certain healthcare providers to obtain state approval before offering new or expanded services. The CON program regulates hospices, skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled, new hospitals and certain hospital services. NFIB/Florida supports the repeal of this unnecessary regulation that stifles competition and drives up medical costs by creating monopolies and allowing costs to spiral out of control.
Curbing Lawsuit Abuse
Prejudgment Interest (Oppose)
Trial lawyers are pushing to allow interest to be charged on damages, attorneys’ fees, and court costs from the date an injury or tort occurred, not from the date damages are awarded. Delays in the legal system, which might not be due to the defendant, will only further drive up the cost of personal injury lawsuits against small businesses. This will force more companies to settle, regardless of the merit of the complaint, to avoid increased legal costs because of additional interest. NFIB/Florida opposes legislation that would force businesses to settle frivolous lawsuits.
Accuracy in Medical Damages (Support)
Under current law, attorneys defending businesses in medical damages tort cases are prohibited from presenting to juries the medical expenses paid by the plaintiff and/or their insurer. Juries are typically presented with the medical expenses as billed by the provider, but the plaintiff’s medical bills are often settled separately between the plaintiff and their insurer for less. In these circumstances, the defendant often ends up paying for medical damages that have never been paid and will never be paid. NFIB/Florida supports legislation that allows juries to see medical expenses actually paid by plaintiffs and their insurers when awarding compensation in medical damages cases.
Bad Faith Reform (Support)
Plaintiff’s attorneys have come up with a system to gain awards in excess of a policy’s stated limits by gaming the system by setting up the insurer for a “bad faith” lawsuit. Insurance rates are determined by many variables that consider all of the costs associated with pooling the risk of those insured and paying claims. The rates that business owners pay is based on the amount of coverage they decide to purchase. Any insurance system where insurers are compelled to pay awards beyond the stated limits in a policy is an untenable insurance system in the long run. NFIB/Florida supports legislation to limit the practice of suing for “bad faith” where the intent of the plaintiff’s attorney is to cancel policy limits.
Defending Small Business Owners from Government Intrusions
Prohibiting Employers from Inquiring about an Applicant’s Criminal History (Oppose)
Business owners have the right to know if a person they are interviewing for a job in their small business is a convicted, and possibly violent, felon. NFIB/Florida opposes efforts to shield an applicant’s violent criminal history from a prospective employer prior to a face-to-face interview.
Mandatory Paid Family Leave (Oppose)
Under current federal law, employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child. This type of mandate would cripple small businesses and lead to many of them shutting down. NFIB/Florida opposes mandatory paid leave.
Increasing the Minimum Wage (Oppose)
NFIB believes that market forces, not government regulation, should dictate the wages that employers must pay. Studies have shown that when the government artificially increases the minimum wage, employers are forced to do more with less which causes employers to lay off workers. While a higher minimum wage helps a few, others are pushed completely out of their jobs. NFIB/Florida opposes efforts to artificially raise the minimum wage.
Constitution Revision Commission
Every 20 years, a group of citizens are appointed to consider amendments to the Florida Constitution. This panel, the Constitution Revision Commission, has the authority to place amendments directly onto the 2018 ballot, bypassing the legislative and petition collection processes.
Lawsuits Against Businesses (Oppose)
A constitutional amendment is being considered that would allow any person in Florida to sue any business or any person if their right to a clean and healthful environment was in any way infringed. This proposal would even allow businesses to be sued for activities that were sanctioned and permitted by the State of Florida. NFIB/Florida opposes this broad constitutional amendment that would allow businesses to be sued for any number of lawful activities.
E-Verify Regulations (Oppose)
A constitutional amendment is being considered that would require businesses to utilize E-verify during the hiring process for all new employees to ensure that the applicant is authorized to work in the United States. The amendment would allow for state and local business license suspension for any business who fails to use the system and would provide stiffer penalties for employers who knowingly hire unauthorized employees. NFIB/Florida supports the overall goal of requiring only documented workers be hired; however, we oppose this burdensome amendment that would require businesses to use a system wrought with software glitches and would allow regulators to enter all businesses for inspections.
Limiting New State Regulations (Support)
A constitutional amendment is being considered that would restrict the government’s ability to create new licensing regulations that are not necessary to protect the health safety and welfare of residents in Florida. This amendment would not prohibit the state from creating new regulations; it would merely require the state to prove that they are necessary. This would also provide a new avenue for businesses to challenge these new regulations if they are deemed unnecessary. NFIB/Florida supports this constitutional amendment that would help to limit the scope of any new business regulations.
Making it Harder for the Legislature to Raise Your Taxes (Support)
A constitutional amendment is being considered that would change the vote threshold required to raise taxes and fees. Under current law, the legislature only requires a simple majority vote to raise or create new taxes and fees. Florida supports this constitutional amendment that would increase the threshold to require a 2/3 vote by the Florida legislature to raise taxes and fees.