Lawmakers bad for business? Nah, just so-so

We would have been in deep trouble for earning a ‘C’ average back in the day, but that’s the grade the Florida Chamber of Commerce gave the GOP-dominated Legislature for its work this session.

The Chamber, one of the most influential business lobbying outfits in Tallahassee, granted just a single ‘A’ grade to a member of the upper chamber: Former Senate President Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa (who actually pulled off an ‘A-‘ on the 10-point scale.

That’s a big contrast from last year, when 30 of the Senate’s 40 members received an ‘A’ on the Chamber’s annual legislative report cardannual legislative report card.
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The House didn’t fare much better this year, either.

Republican Reps. Joe Gruters of Sarasota and Dan Raulerson of Plant City were the only lawmakers to ace the finals with perfect scores.

Eleven other House members — all Republicans — earned A-grades.

The grades are based upon how each lawmaker voted on wide range of “pro-jobs issues,” according to the Chamber.

In 2016, 80 of the 120 members of the House got an ‘A.”

Both chambers received passing grades, on average. The Senate received a cumulative 70 GPA, while the House earned a 74 GPA.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, the Land O’ Lakes Republican who orchestrated drives to kill the business-recruitment agency Enterprise Florida and scale back tourism-marketing efforts out of Visit Florida, was among those picking up a ‘C.’

But the business lobbying group flunked Senate President Joe Negron, one of just three Republicans to be branded with an ‘F.’

The Senate president joined Tampa Rep. Shawn Harrison and former Sen. Frank Artiles of Miami — who resigned from the Senate mid-session after a racially loaded verbal tirade at a private club in Tallahassee — and 34 Democrats in getting the ultimate failing grade.

One of Negron’s key pieces of legislation this year was a bill designed to create a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee (SB 10).

The chamber opposed the controversial proposal that was initially crafted to directly impact existing farm land that included large, influential sugar growers.

The Chamber partly attributed the drop in the grades on the lawmakers’ failure to address workers’ comp or assignment of benefits.

Posted by Jim Turner.