Monday, November 30, 2020
Tuesday, 20 June 2017 10:31

The 7th Annual HR Florida Legislative Conference Takes on the Capitol

Written by Kara Palmer Smith, Public Relations Director, HR Florida

Capitol Conference

The HR Florida State Council dat on the Hill is now the Legislative Conference. For the second consecutive year, a record number of HR Florida members from across the state gathered in Tallahassee to walk the halls of the Capitol. The seventh annual event took place March 29-30 with over 60 attendees sporting new name badges with HR Florida “Day on the Hill” red, white and blue ribbons.

One of HR Florida’s key missions is to advocate for the workplace. “The Legislative Conference is the perfect opportunity to meet with key legislators,” said Council President Lynnette Holsinger. “We want them to know that our organization is a voice for employers of all sizes here in Florida.” The purpose of the Legislative Conference is to introduce legislators and key staff to HR Florida, inform them of the valuable resource the 14,000 HR professionals represented by the Council can be to them and to help shape legislation that affects the HR profession and the organizations represented.

Day one of the conference featured a panel of attorneys and HR experts. Each presented a review of workplace legislation pending in Florida’s legislature including bills relating to background screening, tax credits for hiring, state minimum wage, discrimination, labor organizations and preemption of initiatives by local government. Panelists included Kim Boulahanis, Amanda Simpson, Chad Sorenson, Don Works and Bob McCormack.

Keynote speaker, Kathleen Coulombe, senior associate for government relations from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), provided an update-to-date outlook on HR issues pending in Washington, specific to the 115th Congress and the Trump Administration. Topics included presidential appointments, health care and the budget, among other items of interest.

Bob McCormack, HR Florida’s federal legislative affairs director, shared details regarding pending federal legislation impacting HR and how attendees could become involved in SHRM’s Advocacy Team or “A-Team.” The A-Team advocates for issues on public policy impacting the workplace. The Advocacy app allows members to immediately act on alerts using SHRM-provided templates, easily connect to state and federal lawmakers and view legislative issue information on key workplace issues among other resources.

Finally, the day one agenda included a role-playing exercise which provided attendees an opportunity to see what it’s like to meet with a Representative or Senator and advocate on behalf of the profession and Florida employers. On day two of the conference, attendees headed to the Capitol for legislative visits meeting with various Representatives and Senators. A debriefing was held at the end of the conference during which plans for follow-ups were made both at the Capitol and at local district offices.

Summary of Key Legislation and Bills

Minimum Wage

SB 160 & HB 945 – Minimum Wage [Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez (Miami-Dade – Dist. 37) & Rep. Al Jacquet (Palm Beach – Dist. 88)]

In addition to the rate of inflation adjustment, increases minimum wage by $1 on January 1, 2018 and by $1.50 each January 1 thereafter through 2021.

While HR Florida does not oppose an increase in the minimum wage, the proposed legislation is too much, too fast. In addition, it does not provide for an annual review to determine what impact additional increases may have on the economy prior to implementation. For these reasons, we oppose the legislation as written.

Background Screening

HB 31 – Background Screening (a/k/a “Ban the Box”) [Rep. Shevrin Jones (Broward – Dist. 101)]

Prohibits employers from inquiring into an applicant’s criminal history prior to the applicant’s initial interview and prior to making a conditional offer of employment. Excludes jobs where federal, state or local law require consideration of criminal history: law enforcement, criminal justice and volunteers.

SB 244 - Background Screening by Public Employers (a/k/a “Ban the Box”) [Sen. Jeff Clemens (Palm Beach – Dist. 31) & Rep. Ramon Alexander (Gadsden & Leon – Dist. 8)]

Unless otherwise required by law, prohibits public employers from inquiring into an applicant’s criminal history prior to the applicant’s initial interview and prior to making a conditional offer of employment.

HR Florida is fundamentally opposed to any legislation which impairs an employer’s ability to seek information relative to an applicant’s background. However, we could support such legislation if it was limited to dealing with employment application forms and did not limit an employer’s ability to obtain information until after a conditional offer of employment is made.

Tax Credits for Hiring

SB 846 & HB 99 – Internship Tax Credit [Sen. Bobby Powell (Palm Beach – Dist. 30) & Rep. Shevrin Jones (Broward – Dist. 101)]

Provides a tax credit of at least $2,000 to employers hiring degree-seeking students as interns.

HR Florida is neutral as to the proposed legislation.

SB 276 & HB 275 – Work Opportunity Tax Credit [Sen. Randolph Bracy (Orange – Dist. 11) & Reps. Ramon Alexander (Gadsden & Leon - Dist. 8) & Patricia Hawkins-Williams (Broward – Dist. 92)]

Provides a tax credit to businesses hiring convicted felons within three years after release from prison or while on probation.

HR Florida is neutral as to the proposed legislation. A list of the bills mentioned in this article and related bills can be found on the Florida Senate and Florida House websites:

Don Works, HR Florida State Legislative Affairs Director, also contributed to this article.