Category Archives: Chamber Initiatives

Key Strategic Initiatives

02Jun/15

House Approves Florida Chamber Priorities in House Tax Reform Package

The Florida House Finance and Tax Committee passed a $436 million tax cut package today, which included the following important Florida Chamber priorities:

  • Communications Services Tax Cut
  • Reducing sales taxes on commercial leases
  • Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday
  • Small Business Saturday Tax Holiday
  • Research and Development tax cuts

Florida Chamber Executive Vice President David Hart testified before the committee this morning emphasizing the Florida Chamber’s support of the plan and urging lawmakers to consider dedicating more funds to targeted tax reform. In fact, according to a new Florida Chamber poll, 72 percent of voters support a reduction of the Communication Services Tax.

The House tax relief package was approximately $690 million during the Regular Session, but has since been reduced to approximately $436 million because of budget concerns stemming from other issues, such as healthcare reform.

Today’s passage of the House Finance and Tax Committee’s tax relief package (HB 33-A) is just the first step, however, as the entire House and Senate must ultimately agree on the content and amount of such legislation during the Special Session.

The Florida Chamber is pleased with today’s vote and will continue to advocate for targeted tax reform that puts money back into the pockets for Florida’s small businesses and families. We will share updates and insights on this subject in the near future.

02Jun/15

Lakeland Regional Health’s School of Radiologic Technology Re-Accredited Through 2022

Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center’s School of Radiologic Technology has been awarded re-accreditation through 2022 for its certificate radiography program by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). This peer evaluation promotes excellence in education and enhances the quality and safety of patient care at Lakeland Regional Health.

“Students at our School of Radiologic Technology interact on a one-on-one basis with their instructors and are exposed to many radiologic disciplines they wouldn’t necessarily experience elsewhere,” said Janet Fansler, DNP, RN, CENP, Lakeland Regional Health Executive Vice President and Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nurse Executive. “We are proud that our school and our dedicated team members have earned this well-deserved re-accreditation.”

The JRCERT is the only agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for accreditation of traditional and distance educational programs in radiography, radiation therapy, magnetic resonance and medical dosimetry.

Students at Lakeland Regional Health’s School of Radiologic Technology, founded in 1965, acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for professional competence through a blend of classroom and clinical education. Students complete didactic and clinical components for Radiography and Computed Tomography (CT). The education received at Lakeland Regional Health allows students to complete The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists requirements for national certification exams in both Radiography and CT in the traditional two-year timeframe.

Criteria for accreditation include adequate talent, physical and financial resources; sufficient assessment system; proper student preparation for professional practice.

“We are so pleased that our School of Radiologic Technology is being recognized with re-accreditation,” said Mack Reavis, MD, Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center President and Lakeland Regional Health Chief Medical Officer. “Our graduates are wonderful examples of how Lakeland Regional Health is advancing the future of healthcare.”

Information about the Lakeland Regional Health School of Radiologic Technology can be found at http://mylrh.org/doctors-departments/school-of-radiologic-technology.

02Jun/15

Lakeland Electric Fuel Decrease

Yesterday, the Lakeland City Commission voted to decrease the fuel charge for Lakeland Electric customers $1.00 per 1,000 kWh effective for meters read on or after July 1, 2015.  The new fuel charge will be $44.85 per 1,000 kWh.

After listening to a presentation at the Monday, June 1st Utility Committee meeting, staff recommended a decrease to the current fuel charge based on fuel forecasts.

RESIDENTIAL RATES BASED ON 1,000 kWh

Current                        New Rates – Effective July 1, 2015

Base Charge    $  59.64                       $  59.64 (includes environmental charges)

Fuel Charge     $  45.85                       $  45.85 (includes fuel decrease)

TOTAL:             $105.49                       $104.49

The base rate includes environmental compliance charges that are directly related to federal and state initiatives regarding clean air and water mandates. Most of the expenses are related to energy production and include air emission controls, water quality monitoring and capital spending for equipment necessary to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act.

Lakeland Electric bills are broken out for customer convenience in detail to show the base charge, fuel charge and appropriate taxes and service charges.  The fuel charge on a utility bill is exactly that, the actual costs for fuel used to generate the amount of electricity used within your residence.  Most utilities subscribe to the same billing practice and break out the base rate and the fuel charge for their customers. There is no mark-up in fuel.  In fact, fuel is a straight pass-through charge to customers.

Based on Florida Municipal Electric Association data, Lakeland Electric’s residential rates after the July 1, 2015 fuel charge decrease will be the continue to be one of the lowest in the state. Visit www.lakelandelectric.com for more information and to see a residential rate comparison.

02Jun/15

Creating Jobs by Diversifying Florida’s Economy Means Marketing Florida’s Business Climate Nationwide

For a more competitive Florida, the Florida Chamber of Commerce supports marketing Florida’s “Perfect Climate for Business.”

Governor Rick Scott and many leaders in the Florida Legislature and in the private-sector deserve credit for making Florida’s business climate more competitive and attractive. However, decision makers in other states won’t know about Florida’s progress in education, regulatory reform or tax cuts if we don’t aggressively tell the Florida story.

Did you know, Florida has a $77 billion state budget, but hasn’t invested in branding and marketing campaigns in target states? Yet, other states spend the following:

  • California: $50 Million
  • Connecticut: $27 Million
  • Michigan: $25 Million
  • New York: $140 Million
  • Texas: $21.2 Million

Currently, Enterprise Florida does not receive state funding to market Florida as a business destination. The Florida Chamber, along with several partner organizations, are advocating the Florida Legislature to dedicate at least $20 million in annual funding to continue marketing Florida’s business brand to out-of-state companies.

For those of you who have already joined us in the arena to fight for free enterprise, we thank you. The battle for free enterprise continues during special session and we appreciate your support. Contact me at cjohnson@flchamber.com or (850) 521-1235. Remember, when the Florida Chamber wins, Florida wins. When Florida wins, America wins.

02Jun/15

Senate Health Policy Committee Passes FHIX 2.0

Yesterday, the opening day of 2015 Special Session A, the Florida Senate Committee on Health Policy chaired by Senator Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) passed Senate Bill 2-A, Health Insurance Affordability Exchange. The legislation strengthens the core principles of the Florida Senate’s Health Insurance Affordability Exchange (FHIX) Program, including consumer choice and personal responsibility, which earned the overwhelming bipartisan support of the Senate during the 2015 Regular Session.

The FHIX program offers health care coverage to an estimated 800,000 uninsured, low-income Floridians earning less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). Under FHIX, enrollees will receive a premium credit, to shop for plans, services, and products on the FHIX marketplace. Enrollees may access plans on the federal health insurance exchange, all Florida Health Choices products and services, products offered by the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation, and employer sponsored plans. Enrollees will also be provided with a health reimbursement or health savings account.

To be eligible, an individual must be a U.S. citizen and a Florida resident. Participants are required to complete an initial application for coverage which includes proof of employment, on-the-job training, or placement activities, including registration with CareerSource Florida, or pursuit of educational opportunities at a minimum hourly level. Parents with children under the age of 18 would have a minimum requirement of 20 hours per week. Childless adults (disabled adults or caregivers of disabled children or adults may submit exceptions) would have a minimum requirement of 30 hours per week.

The bill provides the Agency for Health Care Administration with authority to seek federal approval to implement the FHIX program. Any significant changes to the FHIX program made or suggested by the federal government would have to be approved by the legislature prior to implementation. Triggers to end the program in its entirety are also included should the program not be approved or if the federal match rate falls below certain thresholds.

For more information on the FHIX program, please visit the Florida Senate online.