State Budget, Taxes and Fees
The Legislature agreed upon a tax cut package of nearly a billion dollars, Story here.
The Legislature agreed on a State budget and ended on time. Story here
Legislature finished on time. Story here
In recent years, there were discussions and proposals to increase the fees on the industry to generate additional revenue. We opposed these measures at the time – and would do so again today because of the large amount of dollars generated by these fees that go into the state coffers, and are not walled off within the confines of the OFR. Fortunately, our advocacy efforts have resulted in no more proposals to raise industry fees.
Social Media – Brokerage Monitoring Legislation
In 2015, legislators filed bills that would have prevented employers from monitoring the social media accounts of their employees. These bills were filed in the name of protecting employees from overly intrusive bosses. However, for the industry, the legislation was a threat because it would have put state law at odds with federal regulations that require supervision and monitoring of these accounts. The FSDA was able to work with other industry stakeholders in securing language that exempted the industry from the law. These bills did not pass in 2016. Here is the text of Senate Bill 186.
One of the priorities of the financial services industry – and one that we have specifically supported in the past is requiring financial literacy courses to be a mandatory graduation requirement in Florida high schools. Last year, the FSDA, along with other stakeholders were successful in leveraging the Florida Department of Education to begin to incorporate financial literacy into the coursework of “Economics” in Florida high schools. This year began the first year of that coursework. Although this wasn’t entirely what the industry wanted – a dedicated course ONLY for financial literacy, it was an incremental achievement. This year. Legislation was again filed in the Florida Senate to require a standalone course. These bills did not pass. Here is the text of Senate Bill 96.
Mergers and Acquisition Broker Exemption from Registration
Late last year, the FSDA was asked to comment on legislation that creates a state level exemption for transactions conducted by an M&A Broker. The FSDA declared its neutrality. Some of the committee hearings have been confusing as legislators were given conflicting reports on what the bill actually did. This year, the bill passed the Legislature and is headed to the Governor. Bill 286 by Senator Jeff Brandes.
Trial Lawyer Attacks
Over the last ten years, the industry has had to fight off numerous hostile amendments to legislation that would have allowed for more causes of action against the industry or tilted the litigation playing field against the industry in such a way that would have cost the industry many millions of dollars. This year, the FSDA has met with the Chairs of all relevant committees and expressed its opposition to any late filed amendments that would wreak havoc on the industry. These members were open minded and agreed that they have no interest in allowing these last minute sneak attacks to harm the industry, but they also cautioned us to be prepared in the event something is filed. During our meeting in December with House Majority Whip Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton), he reiterated to the FSDA that our active engagement in Tallahassee protects the industry, and that we cannot afford to let our guard down at all. He reminded those who attended the breakfast that trial lawyer attacks do not just come from one side of the political aisle, but from both, as they have established a significant foothold within Republican circles in Tallahassee. On the attached bill summary report we are attaching, you will see bills that the FSDA is tracking for these such attacks. We can definitively report that the trial lawyer efforts were unsuccessful in 2016.
Sean Stafford, Partner
Advantage Consulting Team