Bipartisan Coalition of Lawmakers Announce Support of Florida Competitive Workforce Act

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers gathered at the Florida Capitol on January 18 to stand in support of HB 347 / SB 66, known as the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA), which would modernize the 1992 Florida Civil Rights Act to include nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity —an important step in retaining and attracting business and talent to the Sunshine State. 62 legislators, 56 percent of whom are freshmen members, represent the strongest number of early signers of the Competitive Workforce Act at a mere nine days into the 2018 Session, and comprise nearly 40% of the entire legislature.

The Florida Competitive Workforce Act has been introduced and now as the 2018 session gets underway with unprecedented momentum, both Republicans and Democrats are calling for swift passage of this important pro-business bill.

A lead House sponsor of the bill, Ben Diamond, commented:

“I am proud to be joined by my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in support of this common sense reform effort. In addition to modernizing our civil rights laws, this bill will help Florida attract and retain top talent and it will make us more competitive in the global economy.”

Republican co-sponsor Rep. Joe Gruters stated:

“The strong bipartisan support of the Florida Competitive Workforce Act shows that the issue is not only good public policy, but it is the right thing to do. It sends a strong message to businesses who are looking to expand in, or relocate to Florida, that their employees will be afforded the same basic rights.”

“This is a good bill for a just cause,” stated Republican Rep. Chuck Clemons, a co-sponsor of the legislation. “When even one person is discriminated against because they are LGBT, Florida’s strong economic standing and welcoming tourist environment is weakened.”

Florida Competes, a coalition of over 450 businesses large and small, has been working closely with lawmakers to introduce and pass the bill for over a year. On October 17 of last year, Florida Competes sent a letter to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron asking the FCWA be heard during the 2018 Legislative Session. During the 2017 session, the FCWA received unprecedented bipartisan support, with 44% of all legislators, or 70 members, signing on to the bill—yet neither chamber heard the measure.

“Carlton Fields is a staunch supporter of the Florida Competes coalition, which is comprised of both small and large Florida businesses who recognize the importance of protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination,” said attorney Marti Chumbler. “The Florida Competitive Workforce Act is legislation that must be heard this session, to ensure these protections are in place which would strengthen our state’s economy and communities.”

While the state has failed to update Florida’s nondiscrimination law, updated Human Rights Ordinances (HROs) have been passed in 12 counties and 30 municipalities throughout the state, most recently in Jacksonville. But this process creates a patchwork of protections where employees and their families are still subject to discrimination if they live in a neighboring city or county from their workplace without a local HRO.

To view all members of the Florida Competes coalition, click here.

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House Sponsors Diamond, Plasencia Call for Legislative Leaders to Hear the Florida Competitive Workforce Act

January 18, 2018 by admin

For Immediate Release: Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018
Contact: Christina Johnson, 850.391.5040[email protected]

-Nearly 40 percent of Florida’s Legislators Have Signed Onto HB 347 / SB 66, No Hearing Set Yet-

(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) – State Reps. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) and Rene ‘Coach P’ Plasencia (R-St. Cloud) today called on House and Senate leadership to hear HB 347/SB 66, known as the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, this session. Nearly 40 percent of the state’s Republican and Democrat House and Senate members have signed onto the measure, which simply expands the 1992 Florida Civil Rights Act to include nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.These 62 legislators, 56 percent of whom are freshmen members, represent the strongest number of early signers of the Competitive Workforce Act at a mere 9 days into the 2018 Session.

“I am proud to be joined by my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in support of this commonsense reform effort,” said Diamond. “In addition to modernizing our civil rights laws, this bill will help Florida attract and retain top talent and it will make us more competitive in the global economy.”

“Today’s marketplace demands we provide an environment in which to attract the best and brightest to our state,” stated Plasencia. “This powerful bipartisan effort clearly demonstrates the desire to have the Florida Competitive Workforce Act be heard in both House and Senate committees of reference and we urge leadership to calendar HB 347/SB 66 as soon as possible.”

On October 17, the Florida Competes coalition sent a letter to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron asking the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA) be heard during the 2018 Legislative Session. During the 2017 session, the FCWA received unprecedented bipartisan support, with 44% of all legislators, or 70 members, signing on to the bill—yet neither chamber heard the measure.

“The strong bipartisan support of the Florida Competitive Workforce Act shows that the issue is not only good public policy, but it is the right thing to do,” said Rep. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota). “It sends a strong message to businesses who are looking to expand in, or relocate to Florida, that their employees will be afforded the same basic rights.”

“Carlton Fields is a staunch supporter of the Florida Competes coalition, which is comprised of both small and large Florida businesses who recognize the importance of protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination,” said attorney Marti Chumbler. “The Florida Competitive Workforce Act is legislation that must be heard this session, to ensure these protections are in place which would strengthen our state’s economy and communities.”

“This is a good bill for a just cause,” stated Rep. Chuck Clemons (R-Jonesville) and a co-sponsor of the legislation. “When even one person is discriminated against because they are LGBT, Florida’s strong economic standing and welcoming tourist environment is weakened.”

While the state has failed to update Florida’s nondiscrimination ordinances, updated Human Rights Ordinances (HROs) have been passed in 12 counties and 30 municipalities throughout the state, most recently in Jacksonville. But this process creates a patchwork of protections where employees and their families are still subject to discrimination if they live in a neighboring city or county from their workplace without a local HRO.

Major employers, including 10 Florida-based Fortune 500 companies AT&T, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Raymond James, Tech Data, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo have joined the coalition, along with more than 450 local businesses.

About Florida Competes

Florida Competes, formerly known as the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition, is a 501c(4) whose mission is to support passing the Competitive Workforce Act, which would modernize state law to include anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The coalition believes that the Competitive Workforce Act will make Florida more competitive in the national and global marketplace in much the same way companies have benefited from adopting anti-discrimination policies. For additional information, please go to www.FLCompetes.org or visit the coalition on Twitter or Facebook.

Sixty-two (62) bipartisan legislators, 56 percent of whom are freshmen members, represent the strongest number of early signers of the Competitive Workforce Act at a mere 9 days into the 2018 Session. The complete list of House and Senate Republicans and Democrats, as of Jan. 18, signing onto HB 347/SB 66 is as follows:

House Sponsors

  1. Rep. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) – FRESHMAN
  2. Rep. Rene ‘Coach P’ Plasencia (R-Titusville)

House Co-Sponsors

  1. Rep. Joseph Abruzzo (D-Boca Raton) – FRESHMAN
  2. Rep. Ramon Alexander (D-Tallahassee) – FRESHMAN
  3. Rep. Bruce Antone (D-Orlando)
  4. Rep. Robert Asencio (D-Miami) – FRESHMAN
  5. Rep. Lori Berman (D-Boynton Beach)
  6. Rep. Kamia Brown (D-Ocoee) – FRESHMAN
  7. Rep. Chuck Clemons (R-Jonesville) – FRESHMAN
  8. Rep. John Cortes (D-Kissimmee)
  9. Rep. Janet Cruz (D-Tampa)
  10. Rep. Tracie Davis (D-Jacksonville) – FRESHMAN
  11. Rep. Bobby DuBose (D-Ft. Lauderdale)
  12. Rep. Nicholas Duran (D-Miami) – FRESHMAN
  13. Rep. Katie Edwards-Walpole (D-Sunrise)
  14. Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen (R-Fort Myers)
  15. Rep. Joe Geller (D-Dania Beach)
  16. Rep. Tom Goodson (R-Merritt Island)
  17. Rep. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) – FRESHMAN
  18. Rep. Roy Hardemon (D-Miami) – FRESHMAN
  19. Rep. Patrick Henry (D-Daytona Beach) – FRESHMAN
  20. Rep. Kristin Jacobs (D-Coconut Creek)
  21. Rep. Al Jacquet (D-West Palm Beach) – FRESHMAN
  22. Rep. Evan Jenne (D-Hollywood)
  23. Rep. Shevrin Jones (D-West Park)
  24. Rep. Sam Killebrew (R-Winter Haven) – FRESHMAN
  25. Rep. Chris Latvala (R-Clearwater)
  26. Rep. Amber Mariano (R-Port Richey) – FRESHMAN
  27. Rep. Ralph Massullo, MD (R-Beverly Hills) – FRESHMAN
  28. Rep. Amy Mercado (D-Orlando) – FRESHMAN
  29. Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Coral Springs)
  30. Rep. Wingay Newton (D-St. Petersburg) – FRESHMAN
  31. Rep. Kathleen Peters (R-St. Petersburg)
  32. Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo)
  33. Rep. David Richardson (D-Miami Beach)
  34. Rep. Barrington Russell (D-Lauderhill) – FRESHMAN
  35. Rep. David Santiago (R-Deltona)
  36. Rep. Sean Shaw (D-Tampa) – FRESHMAN
  37. Rep. David Silvers (D-West Palm Beach) – FRESHMAN
  38. Rep. Emily Slosberg (D-Delray Beach) – FRESHMAN
  39. Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Winter Park) – FRESHMAN
  40. Rep. Richard Stark (D-Weston)
  41. Rep. Clovis Watson (D-Gainesville)
  42. Rep. Matt Willhite (D-Royal Palm Beach) – FRESHMAN
  43. Rep. Patricia Williams (D-Fort Lauderdale) – FRESHMAN

Senate Sponsor

  1. Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg)

Senate Co-Sponsors

  1. Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) – FRESHMAN
  2. Sen. Randolph Bracy (D-Ocoee) – FRESHMAN
  3. Sen. Oscar Braynon II (D-Miami Gardens)
  4. Sen. Gary Farmer (D-Ft. Lauderdale) – FRESHMAN
  5. Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami)
  6. Sen. Rene Garcia (R-Hialeah)
  7. Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville)
  8. Sen. Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee)
  9. Sen. Bobby Powell (D-West Palm Beach) – FRESHMAN
  10. Sen. Kevin Rader (D-Boca Raton) – FRESHMAN
  11. Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez (D-Miami) – FRESHMAN
  12. Sen. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) – FRESHMAN
  13. Sen. Annette Taddeo (D-Miami) – FRESHMAN
  14. Sen. Perry Thurston (D-Ft. Lauderdale) – FRESHMAN
  15. Sen. Victor Torres (D-Orlando) – FRESHMAN
  16. Sen. Dana Young (R-Tampa) – FRESHMAN

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Lawmakers Want Workplace Protection For LGBT Community

January 18, 2018 by admin
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Hurricanes and opioids among Florida lawmakers’ priorities

January 10, 2018 by admin
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2018: The Year We Pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act

January 9, 2018 by admin

Today, the 2018 Florida legislative session begins, and before them are two pieces of legislation that, if passed, would provide an economic boost to the state, and protect all hardworking Floridians from discrimination.

HB 337/SB 66, known as the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA), goes before the Florida Legislature for a tenth time this year. Last year, the bill earned co-sponsorship from 44% of legislators, but failed to get a hearing in the House or Senate. After 10 years of legislative inaction, combined with the high level of support among lawmakers, it is time for the bill to be considered before the legislature.

Passage of the FCWA would drastically improve the economy throughout the state, and send a strong message that Floridians value inclusion, equality, and diversity. Some of the state’s largest employers are championing the bill, including CSX, and Marriott because they know it’s crucial to moving FL’s economy forward.

The law would also help attract new business and investment, which is particularly important in 2018 as Amazon seeks a home for its second world headquarters. Several cities in the state, including Tampa, have made bids for the company; wherever HQ2 ends up, the host city will gain an initial investment of $5 billion, and over 50,000 high-paying jobs. But business leaders worry that without a modernized, statewide nondiscrimination law, Florida will fall behind.

But it’s not just big business calling for this important legislation: New polling from the Small Business Majority shows that  73% of small business owners in Florida were in support of a federal law protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in public accommodations, and nearly 7 in 10 responded that they would support a similar state law.

In the lead up to 2018 legislative session, businesses have already sent a clear signal to lawmakers that the Competitive Workforce Act must be a priority as lawmakers return to Tallahassee.

In late 2017, our coalition sent a letter to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron urging them to bring the FCWA to the floor for a vote. The letter was signed by 10 Fortune 500 companies, more than 450 small businesses, and 30 major employers; included among them are AT&T, Walt Disney World, and Darden Restaurants. The letter stated, in part:

“The coalition believes the Florida Competitive Workforce Act will make the State of Florida more competitive in the national and global marketplace in much the same way anti-discrimination policies have benefited employers.”         

Modernizing Florida’s nondiscrimination law is good business — over the next ten years, work output could boost the state’s economy by as much as $5.46 billion, and create over 30,000 new jobs. That’s why case is clear: the Florida Competitive Workforce Act must be passed in 2018 to bring an economic boon to the state, attract the best and brightest talents and ensure Florida can compete in the growing global economy.

To see our coalition members, click here.

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Florida’s small businesses support LGBTQ workers, customers

November 28, 2017 by admin

Drew Wilson
Florida Politics
November 25, 2017

http://floridapolitics.com/archives/250299-businesses-protections-lgbtq

A coalition of Florida businesses touted a poll Wednesday that shows broad support among Florida small business owners for laws protecting LGBTQ workers and customers from discrimination.

“Small business owners recognize that to find the most talented employees, they need to ensure their workplace has non-discrimination policies in place,” said Florida Competes spokesperson Christina Johnson. “Small businesses understand how discriminatory policies can adversely affect the business bottom line. This Saturday we encourage people to ‘shop small,’ and support small businesses that treat everyone equally and fairly.”

The Small Business Majority poll, released Nov. 16, found 73 percent of small business owners were in support of a federal law protecting LGBT people from discrimination in restaurants, hotels and other businesses open to the public, while nearly seven in 10 said they would back a state law against employment discrimination for LGBTQ individuals.

A slightly smaller number said they are in favor of a federal law preventing employment discrimination.

Current Florida law protects workers from discrimination by race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, marital or disability status. Proposals sponsored by Democratic Sen. Darryl Rouson, Democratic Rep. Ben Diamond, and Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes.

Neither the Senate bill (SB 66) nor the House bill (HB 347) has been heard in committee.

The poll also found a majority, 53 percent, of respondents said anti-discrimination measures based on sexual orientation and gender identity help attract and retain employees, while 56 percent feel that such laws contribute to a robust employee pool.

Just over half of respondents said nondiscrimination laws improve bottom lines by bringing in the best and brightest employees, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“At The Loop Pizza Grill, our employees are recruited based on their merits, and retained and promoted based on their job performance,” said Mike Schneider, co-founder of the Jacksonville-based restaurant chain. “We believe in order to hire the best employees, we must create an open, diverse work environment for everyone to grow. It’s not just good business sense; it’s the right thing to do.”

Florida Competes said the state could boost its total economic output by $5.46 billion over the next 10 years and create 35,759 new jobs by enacting employee nondiscrimination legislation, which would raise the Sunshine State’s attractiveness among worke

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South Florida employers earn perfect scores on rights group equality index

November 28, 2017 by admin
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Florida’s small businesses support LGBTQ workers, customers

November 25, 2017 by admin
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Small Business Owners Support Nondiscrimination Policies to Improve Economy

November 22, 2017 by admin

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Contact:
Christina Johnson, 850.391.5040[email protected]
Alix Miller, 850.391.5040[email protected]

Small Business Owners Support Nondiscrimination Policies to Improve Economy

(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) – This Saturday, November 25 marks Small Business Saturday, a day when people are encouraged to shop locally and support small businesses. There are approximately 2.4 million small businesses in Florida, playing an integral role in the economic vitality of the state. Florida Competes, a coalition of more than 450 small businesses as well as 10 Fortune 500 companies and 30 large corporations recognizes those businesses, small and large, who have comprehensive nondiscrimination policies in place to protect their employees, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

A new poll, conducted for Small Business Majority and released November 16 found that the clear majority of Florida small business owners support a ban on discrimination against LGBT employees and customers. Furthermore, they reported that a majority of small business owners believe laws that permit discrimination would hurt their business bottom line by not attracting the best and brightest for employment. Below are additional findings:

“Small business owners recognize that to find the most talented employees, they need to ensure their workplace has nondiscrimination policies in place, said Florida Competes spokesperson Christina Johnson. “Small businesses understand how discriminatory policies can adversely affect the business bottom line. This Saturday we encourage people to ‘shop small,’ and support small businesses that treat everyone equally and fairly.”

“At The Loop Pizza Grill, our employees are recruited based on their merits, and retained and promoted based on their job performance, said Mike Schneider, co-founder, based in Jacksonville. “We believe in order to hire the best employees, we must create an open, diverse work environment for everyone to grow. It’s not just good business sense, it’s the right thing to do.”

Florida ranks 6th among states in economic freedom, but 36th in personal freedom—two fundamental indicators linked to both attracting talent supply and driving economic growth. By enacting employee nondiscrimination legislation and boosting its attractiveness to skilled and innovative labor by expanding personal freedom, Florida can boost its total economic output by $5.46 billion over the next 10 years linked to the creation of 35,759 new jobs.

The Florida Competitive Workforce Act (SB 66 / HB 347), sponsored by Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) and Reps. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) and Rene Plasencia (R-Titusville), aims to modernize the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 by adding sexual orientation and gender identity. The protections currently exist only on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, marital or disability status.

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About Florida Competes

Florida Competes, formerly known as the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition, is a 501c(4) whose mission is to support passing the Competitive Workforce Act, which would modernize state law to include anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The coalition believes that the Competitive Workforce Act will make Florida more competitive in the national and global marketplace in much the same way companies have benefitted from adopting anti-discrimination policies. For additional information, please go to www.flcompetes.org or visit the coalition on Twitter or Facebook.

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In Time for Small Business Saturday, New Poll Shows Supermajority of Florida Small Businesses Reject Discrimination

Members of the Florida Competes coalition know that discrimination is bad for the Sunshine State and more specifically, bad for the economy. Now, we have hard facts to show that the majority of Florida small businesses feel the same way.

On November 16, Small Business Majority released a report showing unequivocally that small businesses in Florida reject discrimination against LGBT people, and believe that there should be laws in place to prevent as much. Polling data was taken from October 4 to October 23, and included Florida as well as North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, and Michigan.

The polling shows strong support for legislation that would prevent discrimination against LGBT people. Nearly three quarters (73%) would support a federal law protecting against discrimination in public accommodations, places like restaurants, hotels and other businesses open to the public.

When it comes to anti-LGBT employment discrimination specifically, 63% of small businesses would support a federal law preventing it, while 69% would support a state law.

Florida’s small businesses were also wary of discriminatory legislation’s effect on their bottom line. When asked what effect enacting a law allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBT people would have on the state’s business climate, 63% of respondents said it would be negative.

More than half of Florida entrepreneurs (53%) believe that a business owner should not be able to discriminate against LGBT people by claiming that it violates their right to free speech. A further 60% of entrepreneurs responded that business owners should not be able to claim an exemption from non-discrimination laws based on freedom of artistic expression.

On the flip side, many small business owners said proactive legislation would be good for business. Fifty one percent of respondents believe that laws preventing LGBT discrimination would help improve their bottom line by attracting the best and brightest in the employment pool, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Furthermore, 53% believe that non-discrimination laws would help both attract and retain employees.  

“At The Loop Pizza Grill, our employees are recruited based on their merits, and retained and promoted based on their job performance. We believe in order to hire the best employees, we must create an open, diverse work environment for everyone to grow. It’s not just good business sense, it’s the right thing to do.” —Mike Schneider, co-founder of The Loop Pizza Grill in Jacksonville

Mike Schneider, co-founder of The Loop Pizza Grill in Jacksonville, is one of those local business owners who supports protecting LGBT people from discrimination, because it’s the right thing to do and it’s good for his bottom line.

“At The Loop Pizza Grill, our employees are recruited based on their merits, and retained and promoted based on their job performance,” he says. “We believe in order to hire the best employees, we must create an open, diverse work environment for everyone to grow. It’s not just good business sense, it’s the right thing to do.”

The results are clear: a majority of small businesses and entrepreneurs believe that discrimination a people is bad for the bottom line, and that business owners should not have the right to turn people away because of who they are. This polling only strengthens our coalition’s belief that modernizing Florida’s non-discrimination law will strengthen our economy across the state—which is why businesses large and small are in overwhelming support.

In 2018, our coalition of 450+ businesses will harness the results of these findings to bolster our case to lawmakers that now is the time to  pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, which will help businesses be able to attract the best and brightest talent to Florida and ensure that our welcome mat is out for everyone. 

View the full list of Florida Competes members, and if you believe protecting LGBT people from discrimination helps Florida compete, join our coalition.

 

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Lawmaker Says Passing Competitive Workforce Act is Right Thing to do Morally and Economically

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Florida Clergy United Throw Their Weight Behind the FCWA, Say Passage Is A Matter of Faith

450+ businesses are standing together to urge lawmakers to pass the Competitive Workforce Act in 2018! Click here to join the Florida Competes coalition today.

Today, members of Florida Clergy United in Faith and Public Life, a prominent group of multi-denominational faith leaders, gave their endorsement to legislation known as the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA), which would modernize Florida’s non-discrimination law, ensuring statewide protections for LGBT people in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

Reverend Joe Parramore, a co-coordinator of Florida Clergy United, underscored that faith absolutely calls for people to support equality for all:

“Inscribed on the Rotunda walls of this Capitol, is the Preamble to the Florida’s Constitution. As a member of the community of faith, what concerns me most about [what is] in that Preamble is the line that says ‘can guarantee equal civil, and political rights to all.”

“Inscribed on the Rotunda walls of this Capitol, is the Preamble to the Florida’s Constitution. As a member of the community of faith, what concerns me most about [what is] in that Preamble is the line that says ‘can guarantee equal civil, and political rights to all.” —Rev. Joe Parramore.

Pastor Reginald Gundy of Jacksonville reiterated that sentiment:

“When I started thinking about being a pastor of everyone … when I began to realize and recognize that to be unfair, unequal to people, it’s just simply a sin.”

Florida Clergy United joins 450 local businesses across the Sunshine State as well as  a growing, bipartisan group of lawmakers—building off of the unprecedented support of 44% of lawmakers in 2017—who have given their support to the legislation.

“When I started thinking about being a pastor of everyone … when I began to realize and recognize that to be unfair, unequal to people, it’s just simply a sin.” —Pastor Reginald Gundy

The FCWA’s new prime sponsor, Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), has also said faith is a main driver of his support for the bill:

“This truly is one of the most important issues of our time. I am proud to sponsor Senate Bill 66 which simply adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the already existing Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992. This inclusion makes it clear that all Floridians deserve equal rights in employment, housing and accommodations. Eighteen states already have similar comprehensive nondiscrimination laws, and with a diverse population, this fundamental protection in our state is long overdue.”

Today’s endorsement shows just how much the FCWA is picking up steam among lawmakers, community groups and the business community—yet legislative leadership has been slow to recognize this support.

“This truly is one of the most important issues of our time. … all Floridians deserve equal rights in employment, housing and accommodations. Eighteen states already have similar comprehensive nondiscrimination laws, and with a diverse population, this fundamental protection in our state is long overdue.” —Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), lead bill sponsor

On October 17, Florida Competes sent a letter to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron asking that FCWA be heard in the 2018 legislative session; Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) will lead this effort.

It is past time for legislative leaders to get serious about FCWA. Florida cities risk losing their bid for Amazon HQ2 because of a lack of statewide protections. Amazon, ranked 12th in the Fortune 500 index, maintains a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace, which is at odds with Florida’s lack of comprehensive non-discrimination legislation.

That’s why the Florida Competes coalition, which includes Florida-based Fortune 500 companies like Walt Disney World & Resort, AT&T, Darden Restaurants, and CSX, are encouraging lawmakers to pass the FCWA in 2018.

If you’re a Florida business—large or small—join our effort to pass the FCWA and ensure that Florida remains open for business for everyone. Sign the pledge.

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Florida Clergy United Endorses 2018 Florida Competitive Workforce Act Legislation, Now Led By Prime Bill Sponsor Senator Darryl Rouson

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, November 9, 2017

Contact:
Christina Johnson, 850.391.5040[email protected]
Alix Miller, 850.391.5040[email protected]

Florida Clergy United Endorses 2018 Florida Competitive Workforce Act Legislation, Now Led By Prime Bill Sponsor Senator Darryl Rouson

(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) – Florida Competes today praised Florida Clergy United and Faith in Public Life, a prominent coalition of multi-denominational faith leaders, for their endorsement of the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA). The measure, announced today that it will be led in the Senate by Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), updates Florida’s 1992 Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

“When I started thinking about being a pastor of everyone…when I began to realize and recognize that to be unfair, unequal to people, it’s just simply a sin,” said Pastor Reginald Gundy of Jacksonville.

“Inscribed on the Rotunda walls of this Capitol, is the Preamble to the Florida’s Constitution. As a member of the community of faith, what concerns me most about in that Preamble is the line that says ‘can guarantee equal civil, and political rights to all,’” said Reverend Joe Parramore, co-coordinator of Florida Clergy United.

“This truly is one of the most important issues of our time,” said Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg). “I am proud to sponsor Senate Bill 66 which simply adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the already existing Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992. This inclusion makes it clear that all Floridians deserve equal rights in employment, housing and accommodations. Eighteen states already have similar comprehensive nondiscrimination laws, and with a diverse population, this fundamental protection in our state is long overdue.”

On October 26, Florida Competes spokesperson Christina Johnson warned that Florida cities could fall short in bids for Amazon HQ2, due to a lack of a statewide nondiscrimination law, which is at odds with Amazon’s commitment to diversity and equality in the workplace.

“Ranked 12th on the Fortune 500 list, Amazon recognizes that recruiting and retaining the most talented workforce requires a great quality of life both in and out of the office,” Johnson said. “The 10 Florida-based Fortune 500 companies that are a part of Florida Competes have been embracing these nondiscrimination policies for years, calling on Florida legislators to modernize state law to ensure our business leaders can continue to build the economy by attracting national and international industries.”

On October 17, the Florida Competes coalition sent a letter to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron asking the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA) be heard during the 2018 Legislative Session. During the 2017 session, the FCWA received unprecedented bipartisan support, with 44% of all legislators, or 70 members, signing on to the bill—yet the measure did not secure a hearing in either chamber. This year, SB 66 by Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) and HB 347 by Reps. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) and Rene Plasencia (R-Titusville) have been filed.

While the state has failed to update Florida’s civil rights law, updated Human Rights Ordinances (HROs) have been passed in 12 counties and 30 municipalities throughout the state, most recently in Jacksonville. But these protections create a patchwork where employees and their families are still subject to discrimination if they live in a neighboring city or county from their workplace without a local HRO.

Major employers, including 10 Florida-based Fortune 500 companies AT&T, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Raymond James, Tech Data, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo have joined the coalition, along with more than 450 local businesses.

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Sen. Daryl Rouson wants sexual orientation and gender identification included in Civil Rights Act

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Florida Could Fall Short in Bid for Amazon HQ2 Unless CWA Is A Top Priority in 2018

Tampa, St. Petersburg and Miami-Dade County are currently frontrunners among the 238 cities, counties and regions competing to serve as home for Amazon’s second headquarters.

The Sunshine State, however, may be at a disadvantage when it comes to what is likely to be a heavy bidding war due to its lack of a statewide nondiscrimination law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.

That’s because diversity and quality of life important to Amazon—so much so that as part of the bidding process, the company has requested bidders provide evidence of a compatible cultural and community environment that “includes the presence and support of a diverse population.”  Amazon’s internal Statement on Diversity also emphasizes this way of doing business:

“We believe that diversity and inclusion are good for our business, but our commitment is based on something more fundamental than that. It’s simply right. Amazon has always been, and always will be, committed to tolerance and diversity.”

“We believe that diversity and inclusion are good for our business, but our commitment is based on something more fundamental than that. It’s simply right. Amazon has always been, and always will be, committed to tolerance and diversity.”—Amazon internal Statement on Diversity

Amazon’s commitment specifically to LGBT inclusion can be seen in the company’s history of actively promoting state and federal legislation on equal rights for the LGBT community—legislation that Florida currently lacks.

That puts places like Tampa, St. Petersburg and the Miami-Dade area at a disadvantage to cities in states that have statewide, LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination protections, even as those areas boast some of the strongest local LGBT protections in the state.

“These are two communities that stand up for the inherent rights of everybody, regardless of how you got here, of the language that you speak, of the God that you worship, or who you love. Both of us have been in that fight for a long time. And our communities have prospered as a result of that. And corporations looking at the two of us and our two cities know that their employees if they come here are going to be treated with the same respect regardless of your station in life.” —St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn are even emphasizing these local protections—and the culture of inclusion they represent—in their bid. In a video included in their proposal, they state:

“These are two communities that stand up for the inherent rights of everybody, regardless of how you got here, of the language that you speak, of the God that you worship, or who you love. Both of us have been in that fight for a long time. And our communities have prospered as a result of that. And corporations looking at the two of us and our two cities know that their employees if they come here are going to be treated with the same respect regardless of your station in life.”

Local protections, however, may not be enough to erase the disadvantage that comes from having no statewide law. Lawmakers, however, can get rid of this disadvantage ASAP, by passing the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (CWA), which would ensure that LGBT people who live and work in Florida cannot be discriminated against in employment, housing or public places like restaurants and retail shops.

The FCWA has record support: During the 2017 session, 44% of all legislators, or 70 members, signed onto the bill—yet the measure did not secure a hearing in either chamber. This year, SB 66 by Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St Petersburg) and HB 347 by Reps. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) and Rene Plasencia (R-Titusville) have been filed.

For the sake of the $5 billion and 50,000 jobs that Amazon could bring to the Sunshine State, Florida Competes is urging lawmakers to make passing these bills a priority during the next legislative session.

If you’re a business owner and you agree that lawmakers must pass the CWA, join the Florida Competes coalition of more than 10 Fortune 500 companies and 450 local businesses across the state.

 

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Florida Could Fall Short in Bid for Amazon HQ2

For Immediate Release:
Thursday, October 26, 2017

Contact:
Christina Johnson, 850.391.5040[email protected];
Alix Miller, 850.391.5040[email protected]

Florida Could Fall Short in Bid for Amazon HQ2

-Lack of statewide nondiscrimination law at odds with Amazon’s commitment to diversity and equality in the workplace-

(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) – Amazon recently announced that 238 cities and regions are competing to serve as home for their second headquarters, HQ2, which would bring along a $5 billion investment and create 50,000 high-paying jobs. Several cities in Florida are in the running but the lack of a statewide nondiscrimination law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity may put the Sunshine State at a competitive disadvantage.

Amazon made diversity and quality of life important components of the bidding process requesting evidence of a compatible cultural and community environment that “includes the presence and support of a diverse population.” The company has actively promoted state and federal legislation on equal rights for the LGBT community and the corporation’s Statement on Diversity emphasizes diverse perspectives: “We believe that diversity and inclusion are good for our business, but our commitment is based on something more fundamental than that. It’s simply right. Amazon has always been, and always will be, committed to tolerance and diversity.”

“Ranked 12th on the Fortune 500 list, Amazon recognizes that recruiting and retaining the most talented workforce requires a great quality of life both in and out of the office,” said Christina Johnson, spokesperson for Florida Competes. “The 10 Florida-based Fortune 500 companies that are a part of Florida Competes have been embracing these nondiscrimination policies for years, calling on Florida legislators to modernize state law to ensure our business leaders can continue to build the economy by attracting national and international industries.”

In a video included in their proposal, Amazon HQ2 belongs in Tampa Bay!, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn emphasized the importance of equal rights on local economies, stating, “These are two communities that stand up for the inherent rights of everybody, regardless of how you got here, of the language that you speak, of the God that you worship, or who you love. Both of us have been in that fight for a long time. And our communities have prospered as a result of that. And corporations looking at the two of us and our two cities know that their employees if they come here are going to be treated with the same respect regardless of your station in life.”

On October 17, the Florida Competes coalition sent a letter to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron asking the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA) be heard during the 2018 Legislative Session. During the 2017 session, the FCWA received unprecedented bipartisan support, with 44% of all legislators, or 70 members, signing on to the bill—yet the measure did not secure a hearing in either chamber. This year, SB 66 by Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) and HB 347 by Reps. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) and Rene Plasencia (R-Titusville) have been filed.

While the state has failed to update Florida’s nondiscrimination ordinances, updated Human Rights Ordinances (HROs) have been passed in 12 counties and 30 municipalities throughout the state, most recently in Jacksonville. But these protections create a patchwork where employees and their families are still subject to discrimination if they live in a neighboring city or county from their workplace without a local HRO.

Major employers, including 10 Florida-based Fortune 500 companies AT&T, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Raymond James, Tech Data, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo have joined the coalition, along with more than 450 local businesses.

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About Florida Competes

Florida Competes, formerly known as the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition, is a 501c(4) whose mission is to support passing the Competitive Workforce Act, which would modernize state law to include anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The coalition believes that the Competitive Workforce Act will make Florida more competitive in the national and global marketplace in much the same way companies have benefited from adopting anti-discrimination policies. For additional information, please go to www.FLCompetes.org or visit the coalition on Twitter or Facebook.

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Four Florida Cities Earn Perfect Scores for Inclusion

Florida cities are leading the way in open and inclusive policies that protect LGBT residents and visitors from discrimination.

In the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Municipal Equality Index report, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee and Wilton Manors all received 100% perfect scores for LGBT-inclusion in their municipal policies. These scores, beyond signaling a commitment to civil rights, serve as an important guide for business leaders as they map out future locations for economic development.

HRC’s president Chad Griffin explains:

“Today, the MEI serves as a vital tool for business leaders and municipal officials alike when it comes to economic development. CEOs know that in order to attract and retain the best employees, they must grow their companies in places that protect LGBTQ citizens from discrimination and actively open their doors to all communities. The MEI is the best tool to help these businesses make crucial evaluations about the welcoming — or unwelcoming — nature of towns and cities across the nation.”

Across Florida, more than 40 municipalities have modernized their local laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity—covering 60% of the population. And while these laws have boosted local economies and helped Florida municipalities drive tourism and investment, state law has yet to catch up.

That’s why last week, a bipartisan team of lawmakers introduced the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, which would update Florida law to ensure these vital protections, allowing the Sunshine State to compete in the global economy and attract top talent.

Last year, a record-breaking 70 lawmakers—that’s 44% of the Legislature—sponsored this legislation, joining with 450+ businesses, including many of the state’s largest employers, in supporting legislation affirming that Florida is open for everyone.

After lawmakers failed to advance the bill in 2017, despite this unprecedented support, businesses are already doubling down in advance of the 2018 session, in a letter addressed to Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran urging swift action on the Competitive Workforce Act in 2018.

Prominent signers from Florida’s business community include Eric S. Woolworth, President of the Miami HEAT and American Airlines Arena; Roger C. Frizzell, Chief Communications Officer at the Carnival Corporation; Julio Fuentes, President and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Carol B. Dover, President and CEO of Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

As communities across Florida adopt pro-business laws against discrimination, it’s finally time for lawmakers to push this discussion on a statewide level. In 2018, it’s time to give serious consideration to the FL Competitive Workforce Act—the future of our economy depends on it!

 

 

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Attorney General Bondi Backs Workplace Protections For LGBTQ Community

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18 Major Florida Companies & Business Organizations Pen Letter to Top Legislators Urging Swift Action on FCWA in 2018

Florida businesses have a message for legislative leaders: It’s time to finally pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA) during the 2018 legislative session.

Today, 18 leaders of the Florida Competes coalition released a letter to Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran urging them to make the FCWA a priority when lawmakers reconvene in Tallahassee at the beginning of next year.

Prominent signers from Florida’s business community include Eric S. Woolworth, President of the Miami HEAT and American Airlines Arena; Roger C. Frizzell, Chief Communications Officer at the Carnival Corporation; Julio Fuentes, President and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Carol B. Dover, President and CEO of Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Overall, the Florida Competes coalition includes 10 Fortune 500 companies (AT&T, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Raymond James, Tech Data, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo), and more than 450 local businesses across the state.

Florida businesses are coalescing around the FCWA because they know that the state’s economy is stronger when all LGBT Floridians are protected under state law from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations—sending a message that the Sunshine State’s welcome mat is out to all.

The fact is, discrimination is hurting the Florida workforce, according to a 2015 Florida Chamber of Commerce-sponsored study, Florida employers were losing $362 million annually in productivity and turnover due to discriminatory practices. A recent Associated Press analysis also estimated that North Carolina will lose $3.76 billion over the next 12 years due to the state’s limited LGBT protections.

Many lawmakers are getting the message. Last year, a record-breaking 70 legislators (or 44 percent of the members in both chambers) including Republicans and Democrats, united to cosponsor the FCWA. But despite this record support from rank-and-file members, leaders in the House and Senate have declined to let either the House or Senate bill advance through the legislative process. That was the purpose of today’s letter from the state’s top companies—to spur legislative leaders to action.

And it’s not just lawmakers who are clamoring to have the FCWA taken seriously at the State House. Florida residents strongly support protecting LGBT people from discrimination as well. Currently, 12 counties and 30 municipalities—representing 60 percent of Florida’s population—have already passed local ordinances banning discrimination.

But this patchwork of protections is not enough. Legislative leaders must stand alongside the business community in the coming year to modernize state law to ensure that all hardworking Floridians are protected from discrimination in housing, employment and public places like restaurants and retail stores.

If you’re a Florida business owner and you agree, join the Florida Competes coalition.

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Coalition Letter to President Negron and Speaker Corcoran

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, October 17, 2017

CONTACT: Alix Miller, 850.391.5040[email protected]

Business Coalition Letter to Senate President Negron and House Speaker Corcoran Supporting the FCWA

Top executives, and business and community leaders representing the Florida Competes coalition signed and today delivered a letter to Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran asking for legislation relating to the Florida Competitive Workforce Act be heard in both chambers.

The letter, on behalf of the Florida Competes coalition and comprised of 10 Fortune 500 companies, 30 major employers and more than 450 local businesses, provides information on why the recently filed SB 66 by Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) and HB 347 by Reps. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) and Rene Plasencia (R-Titusville), also known as the Florida Competitive Work Force Act, must be heard in committee.

During the 2017 legislative session, a record number of bipartisan co-sponsors—70, with 19 Republicans, or 44 percent of all legislators, joined the bill in support of modernizing the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 to include anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity, however, the measure was not placed on either the House or Senate calendar for discussion despite this overwhelming support.

Florida Competes is hopeful the Florida Competitive Workforce Act will receive the consideration it deserves during the 2018 legislative session.

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About Florida Competes

Florida Competes, formerly known as the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition, is a 501c(4) whose mission is to support passing the Competitive Workforce Act, which would modernize state law to include anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The coalition believes that the Competitive Workforce Act will make Florida more competitive in the national and global marketplace in much the same way companies have benefited from adopting anti-discrimination policies. For additional information, please go to www.FLCompetes.org or visit the coalition on Twitter or Facebook.

 

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Republicans should at least give Competitive Workforce Act a hearing, business leaders urge

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