Each year, the Chamber drafts its priority recommendations to relay the voice of Volusia's businesses on state issues. The chamber also works in Tallahassee with the Florida Chamber, Associated Industries, Florida Retail Federation and others to stand up for business.
These recommendations are compiled by our Legislative Action Committee, which represents different sectors of our business community after they receive input from chamber member surveys. The intent is to inform Volusia's legislators of the sentiments of the local business community viewpoint on business related issues. The chamber will promote these recommendations during the upcoming legislative session, which begins March 4.
Some of the top recommendations include:
Support legislation that would allow a single certified motorsports complex to receive up to $2 million per year of sales tax generated for up to 30 years provided the funds are reinvested into the facility. This is the same benefit currently received by other professional sports facilities in Florida.
Support a healthcare coverage expansion through use of funds available through the Affordable Care Act.
Four million low income Floridians do not have access to affordable health insurance. When those without health insurance rely on expensive emergency room visits for care, it increases the costs for everyone -- individuals and businesses. Florida has the opportunity to access more than $50 billion in federal funds during the next 10 years to extend coverage statewide to a million or more low-income individuals, to include more than 36,000 individuals in Volusia County.
Support legislation to reduce sales tax on commercial leases by 1 percent starting in 2015.
Florida's current tax rate at 6 percent on commercial leases makes it the only state that collects the tax, which generates about $1.5 billion annually. Reducing this tax would boost the economy by providing more affordable rent space to small businesses as well as others. A 1 percent reduction would cost the state about $200 million.
State economists project an $845.7 million surplus (about half of it is non-recurring funds). Gov. Rick Scott has called for $500 million in tax cuts for fiscal year 2014-15 and is working to target business taxes.
Reduce Florida's communication services tax rate. Communications Services Tax rates are assessed on cell phones, business landlines and cable and satellite television vary across the state and range up to 16.29 percent.
These taxes can hinder the growth of wireless infrastructure and broadband networks and reducing the rates would help Florida to better compete globally.
Protect Florida's businesses by closing the Internet sales tax loophole.
Legislation to require online retailers to collect sales taxes is not a new tax; it's about tax fairness. Internet purchases are not tax free.
A recent study, by economists Art Laffer and Donna Arduin, suggests passing this legislation would create a tax system with fewer loopholes, a larger tax base and lower rates for all taxpayers. It could also increase significantly increase Florida's gross domestic product and add more jobs over the next 10 years.
Permitting out-of-state on-line only retailers to avoid collecting sales tax is institutionalizing unfairness in our economy. E-fairness legislation will give fiscally responsible state leaders the opportunity to cut taxes, promote job creation and expand economic activity.
Local Government Pension Reform
Support statewide pension reform legislation that would require cities and counties move from defined benefit programs for police and fire pensions as well as other workers to defined contribution programs.
Many cities and counties are spending more than 40 cents of every salary dollar on the pensions of the firefighters and other workers. Despite recent improvements in the investment markets, those dollars are harder to raise because pension investment portfolios have underperformed anticipated returns.
For child health insurance coverage/Florida KidCare, reduce the number of uninsured in Florida and Volusia County in 2014.
Support policy that streamlines/simplifies the administrative process for KidCare;
Maximize the access to federal health care opportunities, the private insurance industry and Florida's child health insurance program, KidCare, closing the gaps in healthcare coverage that prevent children from enrolling or keeping their coverage.
Continue to align Florida's child healthcare insurance program with the Child Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, CHIRPA, passed by Congress in 2009.
Florida has the second highest percentage of uninsured children in the nation (an estimated 500,000 and about 14,500 in Volusia).
Studies point out that children who do not have access to quality, affordable health care coverage are less likely to see a doctor access for preventive health services and are more likely to receive access through hospital emergency departments.
Authorize a study to review the state funding formula wages component of the District Cost Differential to ensure fair and equitable funding for all school districts.
Authorize local governments to establish local manufacturing development programs that provide for master development approval for certain sites and requires the state Department of Economic Opportunity to develop a model ordinance that local governments may adopt. Once a local government adopts this program, it must wait two years whereby local governments must accept applications from manufacturers that wish to enter the program.
Oppose codifying the practice of online travel companies paying taxes on the wholesale accommodations rate rather than the retail accommodations rate.
Accommodations tax laws were adopted before the existence of Internet intermediaries. Hotels collect and remit these taxes based on the retail rate paid by the guest for the room. Online travel sites remit taxes on the wholesale price they pay a hotel for the room, not the advertised retail price paid by the consumer. This creates a different tax involving the same hotel room and the same retail rate paid by the guest. The state Department of Revenue has requested clarification from the Legislature regarding the application of these taxes.
Volusia County collects a 3 percent Tourist Development Tax and a 3 percent Local Convention Development Tax on hotel rooms and use the money to promote Volusia as a vacation destination and to support the Ocean Center, including debt associated with the recent expansion.
Vice President of Government Relations
Daytona Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce