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The WOCC through its various committees, generated input on issues that will be addressed during the 2021 Legislative Session. This input was provided to the Economic & Governmental Advocacy Committee and the recommendations were developed into the 2021 Legislative Priorities. These priorities were adopted by the WOCC Board of Directors at its 2021 February meeting. The positions contained in this paper cover a wide range of issues from economic development, business initiatives to Education and Infrastructure issues.
As a leading business advocate, we value all individuals being gainfully employed at a fair starting wage, however Amendment 2 would become a part of our state constitution and not be driven by the free market. Furthermore, this amendment would increase the starting rate of $15/hour annually with no recourse to adjust for economic conditions on a real time basis due to being mandatorily tied to inflation. If passed, this amendment would ensure jobs lost due to the pandemic will not return, and businesses already devastated by the effects of the virus may never bounce back. This will slow Florida’s economic recovery and hurt the very people it was intended to help.
Seniors and Working Families on a Fixed Income:
Amendment 2 is effectively a tax increase; driving up inflation and dramatically increasing the cost of living, forcing seniors and working families to pay more for necessities like food, clothing and haircuts.
Florida’s #1 Industry – Tourism:
During COVID-19, tourism-related businesses were forced to lay off an average of 73% of their workforce over a three-week period. With many attractions, hotels and restaurants forced to operate at limited capacities, these jobs will be significantly impacted by the Amendment 2 mandate.
Minimum wage sets a productivity standard that forces businesses to shift their workforce to more experienced workers. This will leave fewer jobs for entry-level workers leading to a decrease in job training and opportunities for students and those looking to re-enter the workforce.
Part-Time Wage Earners:
Amendment 2 would cause a rapid expansion of job automation – killing jobs. Part-time wage earners will see a dramatic reduction in paid hours and benefits as many businesses move operations to neighboring states for experienced labor at a more competitive rate.
As business leaders, we understand the role we play as employers and setting fair wages, yet, we know this is not the right solution for our community and state. Amendment 2 is bad for Florida and even worse for Floridians. To learn more about the negative impacts of Amendment 2, click here.
The WOCC through its various committees, generated input on issues that will be addressed during the 2020 Legislative Session. This input was provided to the Economic & Governmental Advocacy Committee and the recommendations were developed into the 2020 Legislative Priorities. These priorities were adopted by the WOCC Board of Directors at its 2019 November meeting. The positions contained in this paper cover a wide range of issues from economic development, business initiatives to Education and Infrastructure issues.
By an overwhelming 71% majority, Florida voters approved Amendment 3, the Voter Control of Gambling amendment. This amendment requires voter approval to authorize casino gambling in Florida. This amendment falls in line with the Chamber’s long-held stance in opposition to the expansion of gambling in the state of Florida. The Chamber thanks everyone who supported this important initiative.
The West Orange Chamber supports an Orange County initiative to connect the West Orange Trail to Magnolia Park, the eastern entrance to the Lake Apopka Loop Trail. This connection of the two trail systems, will allow cyclists to avoid riding on busy shoulder-less roads when traveling between the two.
Once the West Orange Trail is connected to the east side of the Lake Apopka Loop Trail and Hancock Trail is connected to the west side, the metro Orlando area will finally have a safe 40-mile loop around Lake Apopka that will sit directly on the Florida Coast-to-Coast Connector. This loop will enhance the allure of the Coast-to-Coast Trail and it will become a one-of-a kind, world-class destination for cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts. Lake Apopka’s North Shore is teeming with birds and wildlife, which makes it a truly spectacular bike ride.
The West Orange Chamber celebrates the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in South Dakota v. Wayfair that states may collect sales tax from retailers that do not have a physical presence there. The WOCC has supported this initiative and fought for the policy change for years. This is a massive win for small businesses to correct this decades-long loophole.
The Chamber celebrates the passing of a doggie-dining ordinance in Orange County and other local municipalities that, where applicable, permits restaurants to allow patrons to dine outside with their pet dogs. Many Chamber members voiced support for this ordinance, which brings the County and local municipalities in line with the surrounding community.
The West Orange Chamber celebrates the passing of the renewal of a one-mill property tax to support OCPS in this year’s primary election. This renewal is of a tax in place since 2010, and will be used to retain highly qualified teachers, protect arts and athletics programs in schools, and maintain academic programs and student activities. Orange County Public Schools is consistently recognized for its fiscal responsibility, receiving the coveted Governor’s Sterling award three times since 2014 for organizational efficiency. OCPS graduation rates have soared from 82.9% to 93.8% since 2011.
The Chamber supports the Pine Hills overlay ordinance, which seeks to revitalize the region by restricting certain new businesses from locating in the area. This ordinance is a preventive measure that aims to improve the area by prohibiting certain uses that may be a deterrent to new businesses interested in locating within the region. This would bring the Pine Hills community in line with current urban design standards.
The Chamber fought for an ordinance allowing Sunday alcohol sales to begin at 7:00am, which was eventually passed by the City of Ocoee. The amendment to the ordinance mirrors changes made by Orange County and surrounding communities, and prevents current and future Ocoee businesses from being placed in an economically disadvantageous position.
The West Orange Chamber of Commerce is a proud supporter of the Healthy West Orange initiative, which aims to make West Orange the healthiest community in the nation, one step at a time. The WOCC team has joined in supporting this initiative on both an individual and organizational level. Each member of our team has joined the movement, in addition to hundreds of our members.