Manatee Chamber to Promote Legislative Agenda

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY OCT 16, 2019

As Florida lawmakers prepare for the upcoming legislative session, Manatee Chamber of Commerce leaders prepare to raise their own concerns with state government. Leaders of the business organization next month will visit the State Capitol to discuss preserving affordable housing funds, protecting regional waterways and boosting regional infrastructure.

“Workforce issues are top of mind for us,” said Michael Gallen, Manatee Chamber vice president of public policy and small business. “Over the years we have heard businesses discuss the need for manufacturing and a skilled workforce.” 

So business leaders want to see further state level investment in occupation-focused programs at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota and at the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee. 

The organization also will fight to preserve Visit Florida, a state tourism agency set to expire this year. Chamber officials also will urge lawmakers to leave in tact the Sadowski trust, revenue from doc stamps that’s supposed to be set aside for affordable housing but which routinely gets raided for a variety of other emergency causes. The Manatee Chamber will urge that the funds be reserved solely for housing programs, a particular need in coastal regions where the price of homes continues to price out many consumers.

Gallen also said water quality can no longer be treated strictly as an environmental cause and that the entire region has learned its economy depends on a clean ecosystem. “With the last couple years, the impacts to small business through red tide blooms has just devastates our community as far as visitors,” Gallen said. “It really hurt those businesses near the water and our coastal areas. We hope we can continue to focus on red tide research.”

As far as specific infrastructure, the Manatee Chamber supports expediting replacement of the DeSoto Bridge and will encourage the Department of Transportation to consider any alternatives to facilitate improvements for north-south capacity on the U.S. 41 corridor. The Chamber also wants to construct a bus-on-shoulder lane for the Anna Maria and Cortez Bridge projects.

Gallen said the Chamber will also press for better access to early learning and resources for students to reach grade level reading in schools. The organization also supports allowing Public Education Capital Outlay fund to build the State College of Florida Parrish Center and an Academic STEM Facility at USFSM.

And to fulfill a constant desire of Chambers, Gallen said Florida lawmakers should repeal the commercial lease tax. Florida remains the only state in the upon to charge a business rent tax, and while it has gone down in recent years, Gallen said lawmakers should find a way to nix it completely.

Photo courtesy Florida Capitol: Historic Capitol Building.

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