Florida Chamber Names Speaker Will Weatherford as 2014 Most Valuable Legislator & Honors Pro-Business Legislators with Distinguished Advocate Awards

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June 26, 2014 Print

CONTACT: Edie Ousley, 850-521-1231

Publishes Lawmaker Grades in How They Voted

MIAMI, Fla. (June 26, 2014) – Today, the Florida Chamber of Commerce announced House Speaker Will Weatherford as their 2014 Most Valuable Legislator (MVL) and honored 40 members of the Florida Legislature with Distinguished Advocates awards. The announcement and presentation of the MVL was made during the Florida Chamber’s Board of Directors meeting taking place in Miami.

The Florida Chamber presents these special awards to legislators who fought for pro-jobs initiatives during the 2014 session that help make Florida’s businesses more competitive and create more economic opportunities for Florida’s families. The Florida Chamber also released its annual publication How They Voted – which provides the grades for all 160 legislators so business leaders can see who voted for or against job creation and economic growth.

The Florida Chamber’s Most Valuable Legislator award is the business community’s premier legislative award honoring a single lawmaker for their outstanding legislative leadership and willingness to take a stand for free enterprise. The Florida Chamber’s Distinguished Advocate award recognizes lawmakers who championed key Florida Business Agenda legislation. This award goes to legislators who fought tirelessly for the passage of pro-jobs legislation – no matter how difficult – and furthered the Florida Chamber’s goals of securing Florida’s future through job creation and economic competitiveness.

Early during the 2014 legislative process, the Florida Chamber encouraged lawmakers to build on efforts to transition Florida to an innovation-based economy by putting the long-term health of Florida ahead of short-term politics,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The Florida Chamber is pleased to present the Most Valuable Legislator award and Distinguished Advocate award to lawmakers who have the courage to put free enterprise principles for job creation above special interests.”

During the 2014 Legislative Session, lawmakers passed 17 Florida Chamber-backed pro-business, pro-jobs bills and defeated dozens of anti-business bills. All 160 legislators earned grades on the Florida Chamber’s 2014 Legislative Report Card based on their actual pro-jobs, pro-business votes cast during the 2014 session.


2014 Most Valuable Legislator

The business community’s premier legislative award, Most Valuable Legislator, goes to House Speaker Will Weatherford for his courage to champion difficult, but necessary issues like lawsuit abuse reform, pension reform and educational opportunities for every student, and the character to consistently place the long-term advancement of Florida before short-term politics. Speaker Weatherford’s maturity and leadership skills were displayed by his ability to provide bi-partisan and bicameral solutions to Florida’s biggest issues.

“The Florida Chamber thanks Speaker Will Weatherford for his hard work and leadership during his time in the Florida Legislature,” said Eric Silagy, Chair, Florida Chamber of Commerce and President and CEO, Florida Power & Light. “Speaker Weatherford stood up for Florida businesses and fought for initiatives that will help strengthen our state’s economy, make our students more competitive and ensure families across the state are able to be successful.”

“We wouldn’t have done the reforms we have been able to get accomplished in the last few years if it wasn’t for the Florida Chamber of Commerce,” said Speaker Will Weatherford on his partnership with the Florida Chamber on legal reform. “[They] have been stalwart partners with us. Tort reform never just happens; you have to fight for it. You have to fight for it in both chambers. It takes a lot of work, takes a lot of advocacy, takes a lot of planning and strategy, and we’ve had some success in the last few years and it’s in large part to the Florida Chamber.”

Previous recipients of the Florida Chamber’s Most Valuable Legislator award include: Rep. Larry Metz (2013), House Speaker Dean Cannon (2012), Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff (2011), Sen. John Thrasher (2010), Sen. Garrett Richter (2009), Rep. Dennis Ross (2008), Rep. Stan Mayfield (2007), Rep. Don Brown (2006) and House Speaker Allan Bense (2005).


2014 Distinguished Advocate Award Recepients

Florida Senate:
Senator Joe Abruzzo (D- Wellington)

Led efforts to reform Florida’s communications services tax bill related to franchise relationships.

Senator Aaron Bean (R-Jacksonville)

Led the fight for telemedicine and medical tourism.

Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto (R-Ft. Myers)

Championed numerous pro-business issues as Senate Majority Leader.

Senator Rob Bradley (R- Orange Park)

Championed legislation to reform local pensions and demonstrated continued leadership on wage protection.

Senator Jeff Brandes (R- St. Petersburg)

Advanced legislation that provided a private market framework for flood insurance, supported disaster savings account legislation and provided strong leadership in passing the Department of Transportation’s bill.

Senator Bill Galvano (R- Bradenton)

Advocated for meaningful education reform while also sponsoring changes to developments of regional impact review. Senator Alan Hays (R- Umatilla) Championed veteran and military employment legislation and workers’ compensation reform.

Senator Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange)

Championed tax cut legislation, including the communications services tax and sales tax on commercial leases.

Senator John Legg (R-Lutz)

Championed digital learning, Career and Professional Education academies and school choice legislation as a means to improve Florida’s K-12 system.

Senator Wilton Simpson (R- Trilby)

Championed state pension reform efforts, water policy initiatives and wage protection legislation.

Senator John Thrasher (R- St. Augustine)

Sponsored fair settlement legislation and fought for numerous pro-business issues as Rules Chair.

Florida House of Representatives:
Representative Janet Adkins (R- Fernandina Beach)

Championed the improvement of Florida’s A-F school grading formula.

Representative Ben Albritton (R- Wauchula)

Championed a water storage agriculture bill.

Representative Jim Boyd (R- Bradenton)

Led state pension reform efforts, which could have saved taxpayers $500 million a year in unfunded liability payments.

Representative Matt Caldwell(R-Lehigh Acres)

Led the fight for local pension reform in the House and led the passage of the Department of Agriculture’s priority bill.

Representative Richard Corcoran (R-Lutz)

Advocated Florida Chamber healthcare priorities, including telemedicine and scope of practice reforms.

Representative Steve Crisafulli (R- Merritt Island)

Provided continued leadership for science-based water policy and was integral in passing a pro-business agenda as House Majority Leader.

Representative Travis Cummings (R-Orange Park)

Led efforts to pass the telemedicine bill in the Florida House.

Representative Manny Diaz (R- Hialeah)

Advocated for the continual improvement of Florida’s education system while also sponsoring the tax credit scholarship bill.

Representative Erik Fresen (R- Miami)

Helped Florida’s students by advocating for school choice, and improved accountability as a strong supporter of the tax credit scholarship bill.

Representative Matt Gaetz (R- Shalimar)

Championed meaningful lawsuit abuse reform this session with his work on fair settlement legislation and reducing nursing home litigation.

Representative Tom Goodson (R- Titusville)

Sponsored and led the passage of the Department of Transportation’s bill.

Representative Bill Hager (R-Boca Raton)

Led on property insurance efforts and the reform of Florida’s Hurricane Catastrophe fund.

Representative Dave Hood (R- Daytona Beach)

Sponsored accuracy in damages lawsuit abuse reform for the second year and was a leader for local chambers on public records bill.

Representative Ed Hooper (R-Clearwater)

Advocated for flood insurance legislation in the House and for crucial economic development priorities, as well as international initiatives in the budget.

Representative Matt Hudson (R-Naples)

Led the fight on healthcare legislation and championed funding for Cancer Centers of Excellence.

Representative Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast)

Led the fight in growth management efforts and cosponsored the brownfields bill.

Representative Seth McKeel (R-Lakeland)

Helped advance several Florida Chamber-backed priorities in this year’s budget and advocated for state technology reform.

Representative Jose Oliva (R- Hialeah)

Championed Florida Chamber-backed health care measures as Chair of the House Select Committee on Health Care Workforce Innovation.

Representative Marlene O’Toole (R- The Villages)

Tirelessly advocated for numerous Florida Chamber education and talent priorities.

Representative Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples)

Lawsuit abuse reform by sponsoring fair settlement legislation for the third year.

Representative Jimmy Patronis (R-Panama City)

Continued his years of leadership as an advocate for environmental regulatory reform.

Representative Cary Pigman (R-Sebring)

Championed meaningful reforms to Florida’s healthcare policies by sponsoring scope of practice legislation.

Representative Lake Ray (R-Jacksonville)

Continued to fight for economic development in Florida by sponsoring fuel terminals, freight, trade and logistics legislation, and the Florida Transatlantic and Trade Investment Day Resolution.

Representative Jimmie Smith (R-Lecanto)

Led the fight on the Florida GI Bill and defense contracting tax credit legislation.

Representative Charlie Stone (R-Ocala)

Championed workers’ compensation reform and brownfields — successfully keeping trial lawyer-friendly language from being included in the bill.

Representative Carlos Trujillo (R-Doral)

Advocated for several Florida Chamber economic development priorities.

House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel)

Concluded his speakership by continuing to champion tough issues like pension reform, lawsuit abuse reform and a bold pro-business agenda.

Representative John Wood (R- Winter Haven)

Championed regulatory reform efforts.

Representative Dana Young (R-Tampa)

Led the fight on pro-business policies in her position as Majority Whip.


Grades for all 160 members of the Florida Legislature can be viewed by visiting www.FloridaChamber.com or clicking here.




Established in 1916 as Florida’s first statewide business advocacy organization, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

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