Florida Chamber of Commerce honors legislators

06/26/08 Concetta DeLuco and Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

The Florida Chamber of Commerce gathered at the Pepin Hospitality Centre in East Tampa today to discuss victories during the 2008 Legislative session and issues the Chamber will focus on during the upcoming elections.

Brad Swanson is the West Central regional advocate for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. He said pro-business groups need to go “on the offensive” to counter other activist groups who have become well-organized and well-funded.

“It is a war that we’re engaged in currently. Now, when we pull back the veil of bad anti-business legislation, we see the enemies of business as being the same groups, typically every time.”

One of the pieces of legislation the Florida Chamber opposed last year, Swanson said, allowed customers or employees to keep a legally-owned gun locked in their cars.

“The Florida Chamber’s goal is to restore the law to its current status and let property owners decide if a gun is allowed on their property.”

Swanson said that Wednesday’s shootings in Kentucky are a perfect example of why it’s a bad law.

“As we saw in that tragedy in Kentucky yesterday morning, it’s a perfect example. … The employee goes to the car, pulls out a firearm, and comes in and starts shooting. ”

Each year, the Florida Chamber of Commerce produces a Legislative Report Card grading each legislator’s “support for the business community’s priorities.” On Thursday, the Chamber honored the legislators receiving an “A” rating, including District 62 Representative Rich Glorioso, a Republican from Plant City. Last year, the Florida Legislature mandated cuts in local property taxes, a move supported by Glorioso.

WMNF asked Glorioso whether the additional property tax cuts associated with January’s passage of Amendment 1 went too far.

“I was a little disappointed with what we ended up doing with Amendment 1. … It did hurt local governments more than the House proposed.”

In November, Floridians will have an opportunity to lower property taxes even more. The “tax-swap” amendment would reduce property taxes, but others, including sales tax, would have to be increased. The Florida Chamber has not yet publicized which amendments they will support or oppose, but Brad Swanson said the tax-swap is similar to legislation they have supported.

Glorioso said he has some reservations with the tax-swap amendment.

“The concern is, where do you get the money to fund the schools? … I don’t know how I would vote on that right now.”

Representative Betty Reed, a Democrat whose district includes East Tampa, said she still needs to study the tax-swap amendment.

“I could be voting no on that very easily because it could not be the best thing for the area.”

One issue the Legislature might face in coming years is whether to allow oil drilling off the coast of the state. Last week, likely Republican presidential nominee John McCain and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said they were open to allowing offshore oil drilling.

Reed said she leans against it.

“I need more information on it. …At this point in time I said I would be voting no.”

Glorioso said oil drilling should be considered as “one piece of the [energy] puzzle. I think we need to look at it very carefully.”

Florida Chamber of Commerce

Rep. Rich Glorioso

Rep. Betty Reed

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