TALLAHASSEE - This year could be "the year" - legislatively and in the courts - for small business owners in Florida, according to an industry leader.
“We finally have a new governor bold enough to talk about things like friction costs and how it slows down the economy,” said Bill Herrle, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business in Florida (NFIB). “We expect the work of the legislature in 2019 to be about strengthening the hand of small business.”
Friction costs are defined as expenditures having nothing at all to do with ensuring that the consumer is receiving the best product possible, with drags like regulatory and litigation costs standing as primary examples of what Herrle considers to be obstacles to growth.
In all, roughly 90 percent of all the candidates for political office in Florida endorsed by NFIB in 2018 won their races, according to Herrle, including newly minted Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. The GOP, which generally supports business-friendly policies, holds the majority in both chambers of the state legislature.
While DeSantis ran on a platform of lowering taxes on small businesses, including the dreaded sales tax on commercial rents and leases, Herrle said his biggest impact figures to come from the three he gets to make on the state Supreme Court.
“The first selection appears to be a very conservative jurist who is very much pointed in the right direction from our perspective,” Herrle said. “We’ve never had a Supreme Court friendly to tort reform ideas. But right now, the feeling is we’re about to take on the issue with a very different attitude from the one corporate Florida might share.”
Herrle said the time has been slow and long in coming, but not for all the reasons some might think.
“Over the years, we’ve had more than few legislators say 'good idea' to some of these reform proposals, but wonder why they should stick their neck out voting for them when it was obvious the state Supreme Court would just strike them down,” he said.
“We hope this newly forming Supreme Court will embolden Florida legislators to enact some of the laws they’ve been reluctant to act on in the past. For too many years, the sense of direction in this state has been we’ve been helping too many trial lawyers become successful at helping businesses become unprofitable.”
With litigation having become such big business, Herrle said a planned attack and approach is needed from fair-minded individuals to even the scales.
“Strategically, we plan to go on the offense and shore up the things we need to as a state to make it a little less profitable to just sue a business,” he said. “We’re very fortunate and appreciative that we have a governor who appears to have an open mind on all this.”