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2015 Legislative Agenda
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2015 STATE LEGISLATIVE AGENDA 

EMPHASIS ON ST. PETERSBURG 

Education

USFSP Kate Tiedemann College of Business Support $12.3M funding request for the USFSP Kate Tiedemann College of Business. The USFSP Kate Tiedemann College of Business provides the intersection between the business community and USFSP by providing undergraduate and graduate students an education relevant to the needs of major employers, as well as starting their own entrepreneurial enterprises.

Economic Development

USFSP/ Greenhouse Support $145k funding request for a pilot project to provide technology skills training to entrepreneurs, students and the workforce.

Pinellas Center for Innovation Support $4M capital request for site improvements and construction of a state-of-the-art 40,000 square foot purpose-built incubator facility to encourage research & development, commercialization and entrepreneurship.  This will leverage $4M in funding from Pinellas County, a $2M US Economic Development Administration grant, and land provided by the City of St. Petersburg.

Enterprise Zones Support the reauthorization of the Florida Enterprise Zone Program, which offers tax incentives to businesses that choose businesses that choose to create employment within an enterprise zone targeted for economic revitalization. Without action by the legislature, the use of the enterprise zone incentives will sunset at the end of 2015. (SB 392,1556; HB 903)

Transportation

St. Petersburg Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Support $17M capital request for Express Rapid Bus Service from Downtown St. Petersburg to St. Pete Beach with limited station/stops on one of the highest demand transit corridor. Complements Central Avenue Multicultural Arts District with direct connection between two of region’s strongest tourist attractions - Gulf Beaches & Downtown St. Petersburg

 I-175/ 4th St Northbound Access Ramp Support a state appropriation of $1.1M to assist in funding of the I-175 – 4th Street Access ramp construction phase, so that it may be constructed in late 2015/ early 2016.

 Albert Whitted Feasibility Study Support $50k funding request for a feasibility to study to expand the Albert Whitted Airport runway, which would have a positive impact on economic growth around the airport by raising the high restrictions of buildings in Downtown St. Petersburg.

Regional Transit Fare Collection Support Tampa Bay Regional Transit Fare Collection: $10.4M Capital Request, Completes funding to provide seamless fare payment between Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk counties. Advanced Smartphone and proximity card payment makes it easier to ride transit, saves taxpayer dollars on fare collection administration.

Health Care

Health Care Coverage Support legislation to expand health care coverage to the one million plus Floridians eligible under the Affordable Care Act. In addition to a better quality of life for the newly insured, expanding coverage in a manner that makes sense for Florida will provide certainty for health care providers and employers around the state. This expansion of health coverage by state is expected to create jobs in Pinellas County and will save businesses from paying unnecessary tax penalties.

Low-Income Pool Funding (LIP) Support funding LIP Medicaid payments for St. Petersburg hospitals

LEGISLATION TO MONITOR


Economic Development

Enterprise Florida Support the state committing a $5 million recurring allocation to sustain an ongoing campaign and marketing effort to promote the state for business recruitment and expansion.

Commercial Lease Taxation Oppose the corporate lease tax in order to reduce the unfair double taxation, specifically tenants paying sales taxes on property taxes paid as part of their leases. Florida is the only state that collects sales tax on commercial leases. The Chamber supports a gradual reduction and eventual elimination of the sales tax on commercial leases. (SB 1230; HB 245)

 Affordable Housing Support the funding of state programs to help build or restore homes for low-income wage earners, boosting activity in the housing sector and helping people on the margins of the economy.

Education

JWB Quality Early Learning Priority Support the 2015 Early Learning Bills, PCB EDC15-01 that will bring the state into statutory compliance with the federal Child Care and Development Fund in the areas of program access, health, and safety. (SB 7006; HB 7017)

Louise Graham Solar Grant Support request for $250,000 to build and install a solar photovoltaic system at the not for profit Louise Graham Regeneration Center, Inc. to enable the organization to direct its average electric energy costs of over $1250 per month to program services and to demonstrate the efficiency of solar energy in the newly created Southside CRA.

Transportation

Regional Transportation Projects Monitor TBARTA’s ‘Critical Core Projects’, with special emphasis on Gateway Express Connector and Howard Frankland Bridge.

Vehicles for Hire Monitor legislation that would offer statewide vehicles for hire regulation that includes taxi cabs, transportation network companies and black car service. The Chamber supports statewide regulation of vehicles for hire. (SB 990, 1186, 1266, 1298, 1326; HB 757, 803, 817)

Municipal Special Tax Referendums/Districts Monitor alternative funding sources for mass transit projects will need to be explored this legislative session, which includes legislation that provides opportunities for additional revenue options for municipal transportation infrastructure projects.

Diversity

Florida Competitive Workforce Act Monitor the Competitive Workforce Act, which would modernize state law to include anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The Competitive Workforce Act will update Florida’s anti-discrimination law, which will create uniformity across the state and help to attract and retain the best employees. (SB 156;  HB 33)

Tourism

Visit Florida Monitor Governor’s Scott request to provide an additional $11M from the FY2015 budget to Visit Florida. Additional funding provides Visit Florida the flexibility to market tourism events in Pinellas County such as the Ocean Blue Festival, AVP Tournament, St. Pete Grand Prix and the Sugar Sand Festival.

Insurance

Property Insurance Monitor state legislation that would have an impact on flood insurance and property insurance coverage rates. (SB 258, 1094, 1292; HB 165, 895, 947)



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