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Florida Chamber Grades Lawmakers On Votes Related To Business Climate

David Hart, Executive Vice President of Government & Political Relations for the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
Florida Chamber of Commerce

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has released its annual Legislative Report Card. The chamber says the report card helps hold state leaders accountable for how they vote on issues relating to Florida’s business climate.

Lawmakers were notified before and during the 2019 legislative session about the chamber’s priorities: lowering the cost of doing business, lowering the cost of living, and investing in Florida's future.

More than half of the 160-member legislature received A’s and B’s, while 45 members – all of them Democrats - got F’s. There's no valedictorian, but the chamber will announce the winner of its 2019 Most Valuable Legislator Award in the coming weeks. 

How do lawmakers earn their grades? We asked David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

David Hart: Let's say through all the committee meetings and on floor votes, they had 25 opportunities to vote on a chamber priority - either one we wanted to pass or one we wanted to defeat - and they voted with us 20 out of those 25 times. It's pretty simple math. They would have an 80 out of 100 for their grade.

WFSU: Democrats did not do as well as the Republicans on this report card. Aside from simply voting in favor of the chamber's (priority) issues or opposing what the chamber doesn't like, can you nutshell what Democrats can do to get a higher grade?

David Hart: Nothing makes us happier than if every member of the Legislature earned a 100 A. It means that they're in alignment with what the business community believes the priorities are to advance our state. So one of the uses of the report card is for some legislators who may not have gotten as good a grade as they had hoped to really reflect on that and work with us more in the summer months to improve their grade for next year.

WFSU: This report card is focused on business. So, is it about just building nonstop, developing nonstop, or is there much more to it than that?

David Hart: I take it as a very important and personal mission of us here at the chamber to make sure we're creating a Florida that our kids and grandkids are going to grow up in, love, champion. There's a lot of facets to that (including) business climate and a growing, strong economy. They also include things like quality of life and protecting our environment. So it's everything from healthcare to tax climate to regulatory climate. 

Gina Jordan is the host of Morning Edition for WFSU News. Gina is a Tallahassee native and graduate of Florida State University. She spent 15 years working in news/talk and country radio in Orlando before becoming a reporter and All Things Considered host for WFSU in 2008. She left after a few years to spend more time with her son, working part-time as the capital reporter/producer for WLRN Public Media in Miami and as a drama teacher at Young Actors Theatre. She also blogged and reported for StateImpact Florida, an NPR education project, and produced podcasts and articles for AVISIAN Publishing. Gina has won awards for features, breaking news coverage, and newscasts from contests including the Associated Press, Green Eyeshade, and Murrow Awards. Gina served on the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters board of directors and now serves on the board of the new Florida Association of Broadcast Journalists. In her free time, Gina likes to read, travel, and watch her son play sports. Follow Gina Jordan on Twitter: @hearyourthought