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Legislative Session preview: Look for lawmakers to address financial issues

Ballard Partners Partner Todd Josko also says that even with a supermajority in both chambers, the Republicans won't totally shut out the Democrats.


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1. The biggest thing to look for in the 2023 Legislative Session, scheduled to start March 7, is for lawmakers to address the economy, says Todd Josko, a partner with Ballard Partners. Ballard is a global public affairs and lobbying firm with offices from Tallahassee and Tampa to Istanbul and Tel Aviv. 

“They will look at ways to make things more affordable for Floridians,”  says  Josko, who recently opened one of the newest branches for Ballard Partners, in downtown Sarasota. He acknowledges a lot of affordability issues, particularly in regard to inflation, rests on the federal government. “I don’t know if there’s one magic bullet, but they will look for ways to put more money in people’s pockets.”

Incoming House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, addressed the affordability issue in a Legislative agenda speech he delivered on the House floor Nov. 22.

“Sustained fiscal responsibility means Florida can bear the costs of hurricanes and still address other priorities,” Renner says. “Unfortunately, our constituents are facing record inflation. Many Floridians are reaching a breaking point, their incomes can’t keep up with rising prices. The basics of life — housing, food and energy costs — are crushing the family budget. Washington’s wasteful spending only adds fuel to the inflationary fire. Inflation will not end without a rare outbreak of responsibility in our nation’s capital; but here in Florida, we will act with purpose to reduce Floridians’ cost of living.”

Renner says that includes reducing taxes, tackling “runaway insurance costs,” making “housing more attainable” and confronting “the causes driving up the price of fuel and electric bills.”

 

2. Josko says another issue for the business community to watch for in Tallahassee this year will be how the Legislature handles the fast-growing trend of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) for publicly-traded companies. ESG grading systems have become politicized — a point Renner makes in his speech. 

“In practice, ESG demands companies adopt radical environmental and diversity goals and uses a scoring system to reward or punish companies based on their compliance,” he says. “These radical goals are causing a politically-induced energy crisis, raising prices at the pump and our electric bills.”

“ESG scoring will soon become a factor in our state’s credit rating, meaning fiscally irresponsible states like California could receive a better credit rating than Florida simply because they embrace ESG’s political agenda,” he adds. “We are not going to let that happen in Florida. This morning, I am sending a letter to our three credit rating agencies, demanding they drop the politics and return to objective, financial criteria, universally recognized to measure a state’s credit rating.”

 

3. Of note going into Session is the Republican party now holds supermajorities in both the House and Senate, with at least two-thirds of each chamber. That’s 28 out of 40 Senate seats and 85 out of 120 in the House. While Josko says it’s a notable tally, and can make things easier for Gov. Ron DeSantis, Legislative leaders aren’t planning to ignore the other side. Renner and incoming Sen. President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, talked about that in their introductory statements. “There will be good debate in both chambers,” Josko says. “(Leadership) will create ways to hear and work with good ideas from the minority party.”

 

author

Mark Gordon

Mark Gordon is the managing editor of the Business Observer. He has worked for the Business Observer since 2005. He previously worked for newspapers and magazines in upstate New York, suburban Philadelphia and Jacksonville.

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