Policy & Transportation Digest

By Michael Maurino, Director of Government Relations, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce

Meet the candidates at Hob Nob! The election season heats up at the 2016 Political Hob Nob on Monday, August 1 at the Tampa Hilton Downtown. As of today, 37 candidates are planning to attend. Purchase your tickets today to meet and greet the candidates a few weeks ahead of the 2016 primaries, and participate in the highly anticipated straw poll. If you are working with a candidate who is interested in purchasing a table at the event, email me at mmaurino@tampachamber.com .

If you are not a registered voter, or need to update your information, we encourage you to visit the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections, or your local elections office. August 1 is also the last day to register for the August 30 primary.

Moffitt wins grant for free mammograms: A few weeks after being profiled in Vice President Joe Biden’s “moonshot” to cure cancer, Moffitt Cancer Center was awarded a grant that will provide free mammograms to more than 400 women. The $126,000 grant was awarded by the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Cool moves for Vinik project: The Tampa City Council this week approved a plan for a chiller plant that will provide air conditioning for the Strategic Property Partners’ projects led by Jeff Vinik, plus the new USF Medical School and Amalie Arena. This allows the tops of buildings in the district to be used for other purposes, like restaurants and parks.

Policy & Transportation Digest

By Michael Maurino, Director of Government Relations, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce

Meet the candidates at Hob Nob! The election season heats up at the 2016 Political Hob Nob on Monday, August 1 at the Tampa Hilton Downtown. Meet and greet the candidates a few weeks ahead of the 2016 primaries, and participate in the highly anticipated straw poll. Purchase your tickets today!

Below are the candidates currently scheduled to attend. If you are working with a candidate who is interested in purchasing a table at the event, email me at mmaurino@tampachamber.com .

US Representative District 14 – Christine Quinn
State Attorney – Mark Ober
State Senate District 19 – Ed Narain
State Representative District 59 – Ross Spano
State Representative District 60 – Rebecca Smith, Jackie Toledo
State Representative District 63 – Shawn Harrison
Circuit Judge 13, Group 3 – Carl Hinson
Circuit Judge 13, Group 24 – Isabel Cissy Boza Sevelin, Melissa Polo
Clerk of Circuit Court – Kevin Beckner, Eric Seidel
Property Appraiser – Bob Henriquez, Todd Jones
County Commission District 6 – Jim Norman, Tim Schock, Brian Willis
School Board District 3 – Cindy Stuart
School Board District 7 – Alan Clendenin
County Court – Shelton Bridges, Miriam Valkenburg

TPA > HAV via SWA: Years of advocacy paid off this week when the US Department of Transportation awarded Tampa International Airport one of the coveted commercial airline flights to Havana starting later this year. Southwest Airlines will have once daily service between Tampa and Havana, and has a website for interested travelers. It was announced in June that Tampa was not selected for commercial flights to other locations in Cuba.

Twenty flights were approved out of 60 applications. American Airlines will have the most flights, four of which will originate in Miami. Miami will also have service from Delta and Frontier. Ft. Lauderdale will have four flights daily split between JetBlue and Southwest. Orlando will have one daily flight via JetBlue.

Policy & Transportation Digest

By Michael Maurino, Director of Government Relations, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce

TBX rolls ahead: Early Thursday morning, the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization approved the inclusion of the Tampa Bay Express project in their list of priority projects. The MPO voted 12-4 to keep TBX and the associated projects in the MPO’s long range plan, following a nearly eight-hour meeting.

Chamber representatives who spoke supported the project going forward, but also encouraged continued conversation between the Florida Department of Transportation, MPO members, and the community. In addition to the MPO’s approval, they approved a motion that would require FDOT to perform several studies to measure the progress of the project. TBX still has to be approved annually by the MPO.

Don’t look back, USF might be gaining on you: The University of South Florida was awarded “emerging preeminence” status this week by the Florida Board of Governors’ Strategic Planning Committee. If USF’s status is confirmed by the Board of Governors, it could net an additional $5 million in funding. USF has met all but three of the 12 criteria needed to join the University of Florida and Florida State University at “preeminence” status. USF is also aiming to become a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, where it would join UF as the only Florida schools.

Moffitt Moonshot next week: On Wednesday, June 29, 2-4pm, Moffitt Cancer Center will host a Cancer Moonshot Summit in conjunction with Vice President Joe Biden’s summit in Washington happening at the same time. To register, you can visit their Facebook page or email PolicyForum@Moffitt.org.

Meet the candidates at Hob Nob! The election season heats up at the 2016 Political Hob Nob on Monday, August 1 at the Tampa Hilton Downtown. Meet and greet the candidates a few weeks ahead of the 2016 primaries, and participate in the highly anticipated straw poll. Purchase your tickets today!

Policy & Transportation Digest

By Michael Maurino, Director of Government Relations, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce

#YesTo20: The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors is encouraging the community to support a 20-year, half-cent sales tax referendum for transportation improvements in Hillsborough County and the Cities of Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace. The Chamber’s #YesTo20 advocacy initiative calls on the Hillsborough County Commission to place on the November ballot a referendum that would fund local road improvements, expand transit, and build pedestrian facilities. To improve our economy and quality of life, a 20-year, half-cent plan is the best way to make additional, long term investments transportation.

If you are interested in making your voice heard and asking the County Commission to say #YesTo20, the County Commission will be holding their public meeting on the referendum on Thursday, June 9, at 6 p.m. at the Hillsborough County Center, or email the County Commissioners. You can also join the conversation on social media with #YesTo20. Visit our Facebook, linkedin, Twitter, and YouTube for videos from Chamber members, and more information on #YesTo20.

County Commissioner Sandy Murman sent an email to her constituents today seeking their opinions on the possible permutations of a transportation referendum. The Tampa Bay Times wrote an editorial today opposing the plan before the County Commission because there is “too little emphasis on transit and too much on roads.”

Ballpark and nature park caught between St. Pete and Hillsborough: Officials from Tampa and Hillsborough County met this week with Tampa Bay Rays officials to discuss nine potential sites for a Rays stadium in Tampa or Hillsborough. Meanwhile, St. Petersburg officials are continuing their discussions about a new Rays stadium in St. Pete.

But that isn’t the only park being discussed on both sides of the bay. Lake Park, a nearly 600-acre nature park in Lutz, has been closed since a sinkhole developed last year. Hillsborough runs the park, but St. Petersburg owns the land from a time when it was a regularly used wellfield and that part of Hillsborough had more cows than people. St. Pete wants Hillsborough to pay for repairs to the sinkhole, and increase their rent from $1 to $36,000 annually.

Upcoming events (register at TampaChamber.com)

Gridlock! Finding solutions to Tampa’s traffic woes: Tuesday, June 21, 8:00am
Operation Partnership Civilian Career Day:
Friday, June 24, 8:00am

Policy & Transportation Digest

By Michael Maurino, Director of Government Relations, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce

#Yesto20: The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted Thursday to support putting on the November ballot a half-cent sales tax of at least 20 years to fund Hillsborough transportation improvements. This comes in advance of the County Commission’s public hearing on June 9 to discuss a 15-year duration, or other durations. The Chamber took the same position in April, prior to the County Commission rejecting 30-year and 20-year durations for a half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements.

In a statement, the Chamber said, “Voters should have the right to make the decision on the funding of our future transportation options and our elected officials have the responsibility of giving them a viable solution.”

The Chamber has also launched an advocacy campaign in support of the initiative, #Yesto20. Chamber Chair Guy King kicked off the effort with his video comments in support. Follow our website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts to keep up with the latest news on the Chamber’s transportation advocacy efforts.

Workers’ Comp rates could jump 17%: The national board that proposes workers’ compensation rates has asked Florida to consider a 17% rate hike, in response to a state Supreme Court ruling. The National Council on Compensation Insurance submitted the filing to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. If approved, the new rate would start by August 1. Business groups will be campaigning to limit the rate increase.

Upcoming events (register at TampaChamber.com):

Emerge Tampa Bay Young Legislators Panel: Wednesday, June 1, 5:30pm
Gridlock! Finding solutions to Tampa’s traffic woes:
Tuesday, June 21, 8:00am
Operation Partnership Civilian Career Day:
Friday, June 24, 8:00am

Tampa Chamber Urges County Commission to Revisit Sales Tax Option of at Least 20 Years

Tampa, Fla. – This morning, the Board of Directors of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce approved the following statement on the sales tax referendum in Hillsborough County:

“In April, the Board of Directors of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce unanimously approved a position supporting a half-cent sales tax for a duration of at least 20 years to fund transportation options within Hillsborough County, including the incorporated cities of Plant City, Tampa, and Temple Terrace. Rather than allowing residents to vote on an option of at least 20 years, the Board of County Commissioners is now considering a 15-year option. This is an insufficient response to our community’s transportation needs and we urge our County Commissioners to revisit their prior actions and support the option of a half-cent sales tax for a duration of at least 20 years. Voters should have the right to make the decision on the funding of our future transportation options and our elected officials have the responsibility of giving them a viable solution.”

For more information on the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, please visit http://www.tampachamber.com.

Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce statement regarding vote on the sales tax increase

TAMPA, Fla. – The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce released the following statement following the failure to place a sales tax increase on the November ballot:

“We are disappointed that a majority of the Board of County Commissioners failed to place a half-cent sales tax increase on the ballot this fall.  As I stated last night during the public comment portion of the hearing – our community must make a significant, long-term investment in transportation. Kicking the can down the road is not what we expect of our elected officials nor what our community deserves.  With 1200 member companies representing over a quarter of a million employees, it is our obligation as a Chamber to continue our collaboration efforts with our elected officials on a tangible solution to our challenges going forward.  We know that resolving our transportation issues is one challenge that will not go away on its own and doing nothing simply cannot continue. We are committed to continuing our efforts through education and advocacy.  We remain optimistic that our community will one day benefit from a transportation system that meets the needs of businesses and families” said Chamber president and CEO Bob Rohrlack.

About the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce is committed to serving our members and enhancing our community by building business success.  The Chamber provides a greater return on investment and involvement by providing innovative leadership, inside access, influential advocacy and increased opportunities.