Ten Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce staff members and volunteers attended Capitol Days on March 4th to seek changes to Rep. Keith Perry’s GRU governance bill. The changes proposed all revolve around reducing the cost of doing business and reducing the cost of living. The chamber also supports a number of tax cuts being discussed in the state legislative session that started last week.
Bryan Harrington, chairman for the Public Policy Committee, said that he didn’t hear of any “pushback” from legislators and believes that many of the recommendations they are bringing forth are also priorities of Governor Rick Scott and other lawmakers. In 2013, the Chamber recommended that an appointed utility authority replace the City Commission in governing Gainesville Regional Utilities. According to the Gainesville Sun, Rep. Keith Perry’s bill has come under fire for policy mandates that include rate structures, elimination of financial assistance for ratepayers, the power of eminent domain to the board, and education requirements for board members. The Chamber is seeking amendments to the Bill to settle these issues.
Additionally, the Chamber is supporting funding and tax incentives that would help to boost the local economy. They are supporting tax incentives for the city’s renewable energy use, with the ultimate goal of decreasing costs to consumers in mind. The Chamber is also seeking to eliminate or reduce the state’s 6% tax on commercial leases. Other major priorities for the Chamber are removing sales and use tax on manufacturing machinery and equipment and funding the Florida Futures Corridor Program, which would include expanded routes between Jacksonville and Tampa.
In addition to the issues above, the Chamber is also seeking “smarter” health care coverage that decreases costs for families and employers, additional funding for the Florida Technology Seed Capital Fund, and State incentive programs to recruit, retain, and expand businesses among other things. The agenda for the Chamber of Commerce is approved by a majority vote consisting of its public policy committee, executive committee, and board of directors.