On behalf of the Government Affairs team at the Florida Retail Federation, I am pleased to present our Legislative Issues Guide for the 2008 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature. This year’s 60-day Session begins on March 4, and Team Retail has been working year-round to make sure the retail industry’s interests are represented in the state capital. We thank you for your support, and we hope you won’t hesitate to get in touch with us if our team can be of service to you.
This report includes brief summaries of the many issues and positions our lobbying team has been working to advance throughout the workshops, hearings and one-on-one discussions that constitute the lawmaking process. More than any single issue here, however, we believe the 2008 Legislative Session will be remembered for how lawmakers address the state budget.
As those of us in Florida’s retail industry already know, our economy is experiencing the historic convergence of two negative trends — a slowdown in growth coupled with a decline in consumer confidence. Consumer spending accounts for about three-quarters of Florida’s economic activity, and the reduction in retail sales that has been affecting your bottom line is now affecting the state government. Current state government forecasts show that the general revenue available in 2008 falls short of projected costs by more than $2.3 billion — that’s a significant impact in a state budget that is projected to exceed $70 billion this year, and the three-year forecast is just as serious. Deep structural changes in the way our government collects and spends taxes are on the table, and we’ll make sure Florida’s retailers are part of that debate.
The broader issues of property taxes and property insurance will also be front and center in the Legislature, and the Florida Retail Federation team will be fully engaged in these discussions. Floridians passed the Amendment 1 property tax relief proposal by a resounding 64 percent majority on January 29. Regardless, we know that state and local lawmakers will continue to debate the taxation issues that have occupied them over the past year. State regulators and lawmakers are also working to resolve longsimmering issues affecting the property and casualty insurance market in Florida. A summary of these issues wasn’t included in this review, but that doesn’t minimize their importance to retailers. We’ll pay close attention to these issues as they progress, and we’ll be ready to support smart solutions that keep your interests in mind.
With your support, our Government Affairs staff and professional lobbyists serve as a valuable resource to state policymakers as they work to create a stronger economy in Florida. When a downturn threatens, our state’s private sector and public sector leaders must look to the retail industry for leadership on economic issues. During the 2008 Legislative Session, with so much at stake for Florida’s businesses and consumers, our work is more important than ever. Thank you for supporting our efforts, and I hope you won’t hesitate to contact me at any time.
Richard A. McAllister
FRF President and CEO