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Orlando Sentinel: 5 Central Florida lawmakers are AIF ‘Champions’

Friday, June 17, 2011

Six weeks to the day after the Legislature adjourned — actually, the final “day” lasted until about 3:30 Saturday morning, but who remembers — Associated Industries of Florida has issued its “Champions of Business” awards. Not surprisingly, given that AIF saw passage of virtually its entire legislative agenda, there’s lots of self-congratulatory rhetoric. And several Central Floridians will be getting a plaque.

“This was the year for reforms. Lawmakers reviewed, refined and, in some cases, completely overhauled systems that had ceased to function efficiently, properly or as intended. Major reforms to Medicaid, property insurance, unemployment compensation, the state’s pension system and a number of tort/legal reform bills will help create jobs, decrease government spending and improve our overall economic climate,” said AIF President and CEO Barney Bishop.

“Beyond the measures our Champions for Business successfully passed this session, many award winners are also being recognized for the anti-business bills they were able to defeat, including the divisive immigration reform proposal that would have hurt Florida businesses. AIF and its members thank each recipient for their advocacy on behalf of the business community.”

Central Florida’s “champions” include:

Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs – Sen. Simmons is receiving his first Champion for Business award for his commitment to the education system and his efforts to provide greater flexibility to school districts as they comply with Florida’s class size amendment and annual student reporting.

Rep. Chris Dorworth, R-Heathrow– Receiving his first Champion for Business award, Rep. Dorworth is recognized for his sponsorship of a proposed constitutional amendment that could protect first-time homebuyers from property taxes and cap the annual change in assessed value for commercial property to 5 percent. If passed by voters, these important changes will hopefully spur Florida’s housing market and provide commercial property owners with much-needed tax relief.

Rep. Dorothy Hukill,  R-Port Orange – A two-time Champion for Business award winner, Rep. Hukill played an instrumental role in the passage of the state’s major property insurance reform package, as well as legislation further expanding the deregulation of commercial insurance lines in Florida.

Rep. Marlene O’Toole, R-The Villages – As the prime sponsor of AIF’s top legal reform bill, Rep. O’Toole earned her first Champion for Business award by fighting to bring fairness to the way Florida juries hear “crashworthiness” cases. Despite amendments to alter the bill’s intended purpose, Rep. O’Toole was successful in passing a bill with the strongest protections for auto manufacturers.

Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne – A first-time Champion for Business award winner, Rep. Workman’s efforts led to major reforms in the state pension system. By bringing Florida’s pension plan more in line with the private sector through this package of bold reforms, the state will save more than $1 billion.

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