The 8th Annual HR Florida State Council Legislative Conference took place March 27th and 28th. Nearly 90 HR professionals from around the state gathered in Tallahassee to lend their voices to advocate regarding pending state legislature impacting the workforce.
Special guest speaker Frank Walker, vice president of governmental affairs for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, kicked off the conference. He prepped the group for what to expect when visiting with an elected official or a member of their staff. Providing knowledge learned from his nearly 11 years in Washington, D.C., Frank educated the group on how a typical congressional office operates and how advocacy is an important part of the process of bill development. Frank has held key policy and leadership positions serving two Members of Congress, two U.S. Senators and a sitting Governor. Based on this experience, Frank spoke to the keys points that make a visit with an elected official memorable and effective.
HR Florida was also honored to have Robert Carragher, SHRM Vice President, State Strategy and Engagement present Washington Outlook & HR Policy Update. This presentation reviewed the make-up of the 116th Congress and what this means regarding changes in federal legislature. Additionally, Bob delivered an overview of SHRM’s Public Policy Priorities in 2019; Workforce Flexibility & Leave, Workplace Immigration, Workforce Development, and Workforce Equity. Included were pending legislation that would impact those priorities and programs and initiatives that SHRM is has rolled out to address these employment issues. HR Florida was pleased to offer attendees one recertification credit towards their professional certifications for this educational session.
The remainder of the day was filled with discussions of the over 20 pending Florida employment-related bills introduced this legislative session. The discussions were led by Amanda Simpson, Conference Chair, along Adriana Barnette - HR Florida Federal Legislative Affairs Director, DeeAnna Hays, Legislative Chair – HR Tampa, Kelly Marcoux, Assistant City Clerk/Director of Human Resources– City of Bushnell, Kay Wilson, COO – Citrus Cardiology Consultants, Chad Sorenson, HR Florida President Elect and Payal Patel, the Legislative Director for SHRM Jacksonville.
During day two, the conference attendees on the Capitol had legislative visits with Representatives and Senators from their individual districts. Participants talked about whom they are, what they do, the personal impact of pending bills, and suggested changes to bills that would be reasonable. Suzanne Boy, SHRM SWFL Legislative Director, was present for the Inaugural Day on the Hill and again this year. She commented on the growth of the event, both in terms of attendees (there were 40 individuals that participated in 2011) and in the recognition and receptiveness of the congressional offices to interacting with HR professionals as knowledge sources for improving pending legislation. Returning attendees have developed credible and influential relationships with elected officials. First time attendees have the name recognition of HR Florida and support of the group to pave the way for a meaningful conversation.
The fate of the pending legislation is still unknown at the time this article was written. HR Florida will continue to track progress of these bills for the remainder of the State legislative session and offer support so the conversations can continue at the local level.
Conference Chair Amanda Simpson had this to say about the event: “I was overwhelmed by the number and enthusiasm of our attendees and speakers this year. Whether this was someone’s first HR FL Legislative Conference or their eighth, everyone truly made a difference by ensuring that the voices of HR professionals across the state were heard on important workplace issues. They made this conference the best one yet!”
HR Florida is grateful to have the support of their legal partners Olgetree Deakins and Jackson Lewis for this event. In addition to financial funding, the firms provided the time and talents of their employees that participated in this event.
Regardless if you attended the Legislative Conference or not, you can be an HR Advocate. Through the SHRM Policy Action Center, you can sign up to be a member of the SHRM A-Team. As an A-Team member, you can ensure the voice of HR is heard by policy decision-makers via a “local network.”
Bob Carragher stated, “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.” Be present at the table.