2013 LAKELAND AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE LEGISLATIVE PRIORITY STATEMENT
The Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce will closely monitor and lobby accordingly on the following issues throughout the 2013 Legislative Session.
- Support the Governor’s Office in efforts to retain Florida’s Spring Training teams and attract new teams to the State.
- Support continued use of public funds for professional sports facilities.
- Funding for the Frank Lloyd Wright Tourism and Education Center.
Energy Solutions: Support comprehensive energy policy that balances affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible energy sources while promoting economic and national security.
Internet Sales Tax: Support measures to close the Internet sales tax loophole; and streamline sales tax information and definitions to make it easier to preserve the competiveness of Florida businesses
- Support efforts to reduce fraud and abuse within the Medicaid system
- Support the most efficient use of Medicaid funding targeted to providers that are caring for the greatest number of poor and uninsured.
- Support legislation that encourages the development of transportable health care exchange information through locally based Health Information Exchanges based on national standards.
Presumptive Disability Reform:
- Support local efforts to reform pension programs, specifically related to presumptive disability.
- Support legislative efforts to place a reasonable evidentiary standard in Statute in regards to workers compensation claims for hypertension and other heart-related ailments, lung disease and certain mental conditions.
- Support prohibiting the application of presumption for users of tobacco products.
Property Insurance Reform:
- Support property tax reform that does not unfairly shift the property tax burden onto Florida business owners.
- Support much-needed reforms to Florida’s property insurance market and the Hurricane Catastrophe Fund (CAT).
Tort Reform: Support the passage of comprehensive tort reform to lessen the burdensome costs imposed by our current legal system on Florida’s employers and consumers.
Transportation: Continue monitoring and working with the FDOT to pursue efforts to redirect freight traffic from Lakeland’s downtown corridor.
Skyview Utility: Obtain State and Federal Grant funding to bring the Skyview water and wastewater utility into compliance without burdening City ratepayers.
Public Safety: Provide continued funding for educational dual purpose capital improvement projects. The request is on behalf of both Polk State College and Polk County public safety agencies.
2013 Legislative Priorities – Education
The Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce supports strengthening our education and workforce systems to close the talent gap and provide Florida with long-term economic success through a highly skilled and educated workforce.
K-12 Education - Polk County: The Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce recognizes that prioritizing investments in K-12 education and achieving measurable results for students and teachers are critical to the future of our community. Therefore, the Chamber supports changes to K-12 education that allow a focus on local initiatives and local control, instead of a “statewide” approach.
- Provide real local control and flexibility that will allow Polk County Schools to properly allocate funding and provide specialized instruction for students/programs
- Create uniform accountability standards and realistic implementation timelines that lead to increased academic opportunities for students
- Stabilize state funding to allow flexibility for the District to support schools’ operations along with the ability to properly compensate educators/staff
- Support equity and flexibility for traditional, public, charter, magnet, and choice schools
- Provide additional state funding for school districts' Early Childhood Education programs to be used to increase program quality for Florida's youngest learners
Higher Education –Polk County: The Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce recognizes Polk State College, Florida Southern College, Southeastern University and Florida Polytechnic as important, local avenues for the County to produce college degrees and shrink the educational attainment gap, thereby advancing the cause of economic development. Therefore, the Chamber requests the state’s support of the above educational institutions in the following areas:
- Continued funding of the Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG) and Bright Futures
- Continued support of the new Florida Polytechnic campus, construction and administration
- Support the funding and addition for STEM-related programs including math, science, nursing (RN, DNP, and BSN) and other health science degrees, in collaboration with local partners
- Support funding for dual enrollment, which provides accelerated, affordable & local paths to degrees
- Continued support, funding, affordability, and flexibility in addressing local developmental educational needs for all Polk County higher educational institutions.