Florida enters 2017 with Republicans still dominating its government, but the Legislature's new leadership and many new faces will likely address concerns about Medicaid costs, medical pot and pollution responses and deal with major court rulings in workers' comp and gaming, all while under tight budget constraints.
The devotion of new House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Lutz, to guarding public dollars and battling what he views as corporate welfare could clash with Gov. Rick Scott's pledge to propose budgeting for $85 million of economic incentives to attract jobs. Corcoran's agenda may also conflict with the costly priorities of new Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, to continue growing Florida's public universities to national prominence and possibly purchase private land to address environmental concerns related to the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee.
“One person's corporate welfare is another's economic development,” said Gus G. Corbella, senior director of the government law and policy practice at Greenberg Traurig LLP. “The struggle over the budget will set the borders.”
With businesses still facing the specter of a significant rate hike and lawmakers expressing an appetite to tackle the problem, legislative action seems likely, according to several experts. The solution is anyone's guess, however, and it took several sessions to reach agreement on the last major rewrite, in 2003, according to Fred E. Karlinsky, co-chair of Greenberg Traurig's insurance regulatory and transactions group.
Karlinsky predicted multiple bills will be filed offering different solutions, with an opt-out option for employers being one possibility.
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