AIF’s Voting Records is the definitive legislative scorecard for the business community that tabulates the voting conduct of each member of the Florida Legislature during the 2023 Legislative Session. Scores are based on committee, amendment and floor votes cast on bills that were advocated, promoted or opposed by AIF, with every bill and vote carrying equal weight. By reporting on the 3,747 votes cast by legislators on 42 bills, this publication embodies the most exhaustive and complete record of the Legislature’s collective approach to the concerns of Florida’s employers.
“Each legislative session, AIF works tirelessly, day in and day out, to advocate on behalf of Florida’s business community and ensure lawmakers understand the impact that proposed legislation would have on employers throughout our state,” said AIF President & CEO Brewster Bevis. “We track everything – bills, amendments, votes – and we’re committed to keeping the business community informed of what happens in Tallahassee. That’s why each year for the last 49 years AIF has compiled its Voting Records report, to provide businesses with a thorough review of how lawmakers voted on the issues that matter to them and let them know who their greatest advocates are.”
AIF Vice President of Governmental Affairs Adam Basford added, “Florida’s business community saw some significant victories this legislative session, from transformative tort reform legislation that will help end lawsuit abuse to a comprehensive workforce housing package that will help Floridians live where they work. But not every bill passed will have a positive impact on our state’s job creators, so we will continue to work with our members and legislators to hopefully continue to improve the business landscape in Florida. This is also why AIF’s Voting Records report is so important. It takes a complete look at every relevant bill filed and every vote cast to provide a full picture of where every lawmaker stands on the issues that really matter to the business community.”
AIF recognizes Senator Linda Stewart for her willingness to cross party lines and be the only Democratic Senator to vote for the sweeping tort reform bill. She also sponsored a bill that will significantly cut back on the amount of litigation in the auto glass industry.
AIF’s 2023 Voting Records report is available in full here. The Voting Records Database, which includes over 230,000 votes, more than 2,400 bills, and over 900 legislators from the last nearly 50 years, is available at AIF.com/VotingRecords.
Along with its Voting Records report, AIF also names its Champions for Business every year since 2003, which recognizes the elected officials who provided strong leadership in advancing key legislation and has taken risks for their beliefs in the success of Florida’s business community.
“AIF’s Champions for Business went above and beyond this session and took an active role to show their support for the business community in Florida,” said Bevis. “These lawmakers served as our greatest advocates and have worked to defend free enterprise and economic prosperity time and time again. We are proud to call them our champions and are grateful to have them on our side in the Florida Legislature.”
For the 2023 Legislative Session, AIF awarded the following elected leaders with the Champions for Business distinction:
- Senate President Kathleen Passidomo for her impeccable leadership during the 2023 Legislative Session, including playing an essential part in passing a historic tort reform bill, as well as spearheading efforts to increase access to affordable workforce housing. President Passidomo also worked closely with AIF to promote business-friendly solutions to several bills that pose significant challenges.
- House Speaker Paul Renner for his bold leadership that helped pass one of the most monumental civil justice reform bills in history that will finally begin to put an end to lawsuit abuse in Florida.
- House Judiciary Chairman Representative Tommy Gregory for his dedication to reshaping the legal climate in Florida by spearheading the revolutionary tort reform law, HB 837. As the bill sponsor, Chairman Gregory faced fierce opposition from the powerful trial bar, yet, instead of watering down the bill through the committee process, he pushed to provide even stronger protections for businesses who are at risk of frivolous litigation.
- Senator Travis Hutson for his role in passing the Senate’s tort reform package during the 2023 Legislative Session. Senator Hutson made a concerted effort to work with all the relevant stakeholders to ensure that the reforms passed were meaningful and had a lasting impact on businesses and consumers.
- Senator Linda Stewart for her willingness to cross party lines and be the only Democratic Senator to vote for the sweeping tort reform bill. She also sponsored a bill that will significantly cut back on the amount of litigation in the auto glass industry.
- Representative Tom Fabricio for his stellar work as prime co-sponsor of HB 837 that will help put an end to lawsuit abuse in the Sunshine State. Rep. Fabricio also sponsored HB 761 that clarifies the Florida Telephone Solicitation Act to prevent frivolous litigation when businesses call or text customers for legitimate reasons.
Commissioner Wilton Simpson Announces Cost-Share Assistance for Agricultural Producers Impacted by Hurricane Idalia
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson announced a cost-share assistance program to support agricultural producers severely impacted by Hurricane Idalia. The cost-share assistance program will be administered though the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (FDACS) Office of Agricultural Water Policy and will support agricultural producers in repairing or replacing damaged irrigation systems, while simultaneously promoting agricultural water efficiency and reducing nutrient application. Additional information on this program and how producers apply can be found here.
Commissioner Wilton Simpson said, “Hurricane Idalia caused widespread crop and livestock losses and severe damage to agricultural infrastructure. This innovative cost-share program will work to support our hardest hit growers who lost much of their 2023 crop and are now looking for ways to repair or replace hundreds of irrigation systems ahead of the next growing season. While this targeted program will not be able to support every impacted agricultural producer, it is another important recovery resource. I will continue working with local, state, and federal partners to ensure that impacted producers have access to the recovery resources they deserve.”
The assistance program will focus on existing irrigation systems and offer a reimbursement rate of 75% for eligible projects, practices, and equipment, up to a maximum of $150,000 per producer or entity. Commissioner Simpson raised the maximum eligible grant amount from $50,000 to $150,000. It is important to note that these funds will not cover items already fully insured. Eligible repairs will target water and nutrient savings, with a commitment of a five-year contract by the producer or entity to ensure long-term water and nutrient conservation benefits over the irrigation system’s twenty-year lifespan.
Eligibility for the program includes operations in a severely impacted county, enrollment in the applicable FDACS best management practices program, compliance with state and federal regulations, including water use permits for pivot locations, and a commitment to minimal tillage and conservation-based practices. The maximum reimbursement amount is set at $150,000 per producer or entity per contract.
Eligible projects, tools, and equipment include but are not limited to pump bowl upgrades, irrigation retrofits, variable rate irrigation systems, electrical conductivity mapping, precision soil sampling, soil moisture sensors, new control panels, irrigation system automation, flow meters, automatic shutoff devices, fertigation systems, weather stations, variable frequency drives, and other efficiencies or enhancements identified by the Mobile Irrigation Lab.
Through existing statutory authority and agency budget, FDACS will initially use allocated funds for cost-share. Given the substantial cost of equipping irrigation systems with precision agriculture technology, the department is actively exploring additional funding avenues to assist more producers.
This cost-share assistance program is in addition to a variety of other agricultural recovery resources offered by state, local, and federal partners, including:
- Bridge Loan for Ag Producers
- Disaster Programs Administered by FSA [ ]
- Natural Disasters and Crop Insurance [ ]
- Hurricane Idalia Relief Fund
- 2023 Agriculture Disaster Impact Assessment [ ]
- Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool
- Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP)
- Livestock Indemnity Program
- Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish Program
- Tree Assistance Program
- Emergency Forest Restoration Program
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program
- Emergency Watershed Protection Program
- Farm Loan Discovery Tool
- Disaster Work Log [ ]
- Cash Payments ECP Guidance [ ]