COVID-19 Relief, Budget, Beverage Code, Sewer Funding, and Economic Development all part of the comprehensive policy goals set for local legislators

From the Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce

The board of directors for the Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce voted recently to approve the following 2021 Legislative Agenda, which is a set of policy goals that will guide the chamber’s advocacy during this upcoming legislative session which begins on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. The agenda was developed through the priorities identified by the chamber’s board of directors and its Government Affairs and Issues Committee, and by input and feedback from our membership.

“The Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce will use this legislative agenda as a tool to provide leadership and advocacy, in order to influence the economic and governmental issues impacting our community and the greater Apopka area,” said Tim Clark, chairman of the board and CEO of AdventHealth Apopka. “While this global pandemic has clearly impacted our community, our mission remains focused on serving the economic development, prosperity, and sustainability of our community and region through connectivity, leadership, education, and support.”

As the local economy continues to rebound, we invite all of our members to study this agenda and we encourage you to get involved in the political process. Additionally, we urge you to contact our elected representatives on any of the following issues that are important to your business. In doing so, you play a significant role in the legislative process and strengthen the Apopka Area Chamber’s voice in Tallahassee.

“I’m proud of the work our committee and our chamber took to put this agenda together,” said Alan Byrd, chair of the Issues and Governmental Affairs Committee. “We’re highly focused on issues that will affect Apopka area businesses and believe these are projects our legislative delegation can certainly work toward passing.”

Specifically, during the 2021 Legislative Session the Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce is advocating for:

  • COVID-19 Relief:
  • Our member businesses continue to operate in a manner consistent with CDC guidelines. However, across the country, compliant businesses can still be sued by customers who may have contracted COVID-19 at their establishment.

The Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce supports COVID-19 liability protections for all businesses and that only businesses with convincing evidence that they were the cause and acted with gross negligence could be sued by customers for COVID-19 related damages.

  • Budget Shortfall:
    • Because of COVID-19, the state of Florida is facing a budget shortfall of at least $2.1 billion in the next fiscal year. While cutting wasteful expenditures should always be a priority, it is assumed the state will look for more revenues to avoid draconian cuts to infrastructure, healthcare, education, and other essential services. 

      The Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce encourages the Florida legislature to specifically close the online sales tax loophole, generating revenue from multinational corporations while protecting our main street local small businesses. 
  • Beverage Code Revision:
    • As the state looked for new ways to allow our local restaurants to generate revenue (as a result of COVID-19 restrictions), it temporarily allowed restaurants to sell alcoholic drinks as part of their to-go options.

      The Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce supports updating the Florida Beverage Code to include the continuation of allowing businesses and our local restaurants the flexibility to serve alcoholic beverages to customers as part of their to-go business. 
  • Sewer Funding: 
    • The Apopka area is known for its natural beauty driven from the Wekiva and Kelly Springs and is working to develop a more robust ecotourism industry focused on these resources, however, the damaging effects of septic tanks on the springs is well documented. 

      The Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce expressly advocates for the passage of a bill that would provide up to $1 million to continue converting septic tanks to sewer lines in the Wekiva basin, particularly next to Wekiva Springs State Park. 
  • Workforce training, instructor pay:
    • Workforce training is also an essential part of giving opportunities for all students to find great-paying careers after graduating high school. Furthermore, it is a key component to many of the issues facing our state, such as poverty, affordable housing, crime, and more. However, our educational institutions are finding it more and more difficult to hire qualified instructors due to being unable to afford a competitive salary.

The Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce urges the Florida Legislature to find funding that will allow educational institutions the ability to pay professionals, in designated and targeted industries, a competitive wage to teach the future workforce of Florida.

  • QTI Reinstatement: 
    • For years, the state of Florida has provided incentives for companies to relocate and/or expand into Florida through its Qualified Targeted Industry Tax Refund. This incentive gave significant tax breaks for businesses adding new positions in industries deemed to have high wages and a significant impact on our economy. However, this program was allowed to sunset in June 2020.

      The Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce supports legislation that reinstates the Qualified Target Industry (QTI) Tax Refund program to help revitalize Florida’s economy by helping in business recruitment and the expansion of projects for specific industry clusters focused on high-paying jobs. 
  • Funding for Economic Development Transportation Fund
    • As the Apopka area works diligently to diversify our economy and grow our job totals, it is critical to have as many tools available to help our existing businesses grow and attract new, targeted industries to our region.

The Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce supports Governor Ron DeSantis’ budget request of $50 million for the Economic Development Transportation Fund to support local infrastructure and job training projects targeted towards economic recovery and development and urges our legislators to include this fund in its final budget.

The Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce is the voice of the rapidly growing businesses in the Apopka area and we are focused on serving the economic development, prosperity, and sustainability of our community and region through connectivity, leadership, education, and support.

For more information on the Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce, please visit www.ApopkaChamber.org.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here