-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: