BusinessForce Insider's Briefings Archive

BusinessForce Insider's Briefings are not fund-raisers, but instead an opportunity to meet and hear from Florida's top political leaders and decision-makers from both political parties in an informal, private session.

Representative Adam Hasner Raps D.C. Bickering, Nelson Senate Record

Friday, August 19, 2011 

Former Florida House Majority Leader Rep. Adam Hasner (R-Boca Raton), a leading  contender for the Republican U. S. Senate nomination in 2012 to Hasner began his remarks by saluting the recent transformation of the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce (Orlando, Inc.) into a cutting edge, entrepreneurial-focused organization promoting prospects for real economic development rather than only "a business card, happy hour chamber."  He went on to share with the audience his upbringing as the son of liberal democratic parents but attributed his political "coming of age" in the 1980's to the "morning in America, can-do attitude" as exemplified by Ronald Reagan which eventually led to the formation of his conservative political philosophy and his later service in the Florida legislature and current candidacy for U. S. Senate. oppose veteran U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), appeared at the Aug. 19th BusinessForce "Insider's Briefing"  luncheon presented by host sponsor AT&T and supporting sponsors Progress Energy, Bright House Networks and Tucker Hall.

Turning to the current political environment in Washington, Hasner indicated he was "tired of the partisan finger pointing and bickering" and blamed both Democrats and Republicans.  Instead, Hasner indicated he, as a U. S. Senator, would encourage "a real debate over the ideological direction of America." 

While at BusinessForce, Hasner took direct aim at Sen. Bill Nelson's record in Washington calling him "the biggest supporter of the Obama Agenda" and criticized him on his enthusiastic support of the president's reckless spending policies, Obamacare and  "card check" for unions.  To turn the county around, Hasner prescribed sending the right leaders to Washington to do what's right and needs to be done even if is unpopular.  As a U. S. Senator, Hasner indicated he would urge tax reform, regulatory reform, a new national energy policy and a balanced budget amendment.  

Representative Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

BusinessForce, the political action arm of the Central Florida Partnership, hosted at its July 27th "Insider's Briefing" luncheon 2012 Florida House Speaker-designate Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel). Weatherford, who was in town to lead the redistricting hearing for the Orlando area, was accompanied by two of his key legislative allies, Reps. Steve Precourt (R-Orlando) and Steve Crisafulli (R-Merritt Island).

In his opening remarks, Weatherford saluted the work of the Central Florida Legislative Delegation during the difficult 2011 legislative session and singled a number of its members out for particular praise on such important issues as the state budget, Medicaid reform, the crackdown on pill mills and education. Weatherford attributed much of the pro-business legislation that was enacted during the session to the close alignment of the governor and the legislative leadership on major issues. As for SunRail's final approval by Gov. Rick Scott, Weatherford stated, "It couldn't have been done without the efforts of Speaker Dean Cannon."

Will Weatherford

2012 Florida House Speaker-designate Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel)
speaks at the BusinessForce Insider's Briefing.

The Pasco County legislator also touched on the ongoing redistricting process stating that the objective was to involve the public in an unprecedented open, transparent process which carefully follows the requirements of federal and state law as legislative and congressional district lines are drawn for the next decade.

Looking ahead to his tenure as House Speaker, Weatherford discussed the importance of continuing the recent progress made in Florida's education ranking and also voiced concerns about the escalating cost of Medicaid and its impact on the state budget which he forecast will remain under pressure due to Florida's sagging economy and the absence of federal stimulus dollars.

BusinessForce Insiders Briefing BusinessForce Insiders Briefing
BusinessForce Insiders Briefing BusinessForce Insiders Briefing

Commenting on Weatherford's impresssive appearance, BusinessForce President Mike Ketchum said, "Our BusinessForce audience saw today a future House Speaker who not only has a grasp of the key issues but really gets it when it comes to understanding the importance of advancing our super region. We are looking forward during his House Speakership to those opportunities to work with him on issues of mutual interest in concert with our colleagues at the Tampa Bay Partnership"

2011 Legislative Session Preview

Thursday, February 3, 2011

BusinessForce members and their invited guests gathered on Feb. 3rd for a legislative session preview in the first of its 2011 series of BusinessForce "Insider's Briefings" hosted by AT&T and supporting sponsors Tucker Hall, Progress Energy and Bright House Networks.

Appearing on the luncheon program to preview the upcoming 2011 legislative session were powerful members from the Central Florida Legislative Delegation including Sen. David Simmons (R-Altamonte Springs), Chair, Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education Pre-K-12, Sen. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla), Chair, Senate Budget Subcommittee on General Government Appropriations, Rep. Steve Precourt (R-Orlando), Chair, House Finance and Tax Committee and Rep. Eric Eisnaugle (R-Orlando), Chair, House Civil Justice Subcommittee.

Click here for more photos from this event.

Also on hand in the audience and warmly welcomed as a special BusinessForce guest was former Speaker of the Florida House Larry Cretul (R-Ocala).  Upon retiring from the legislature in 2010, Cretul joined the Florida Chamber as the Director of its Board of Governors.

With state finances expected to command the major focus during the session, Sen. Hays agreed the budget was "the 900 pound gorilla in the room."  He went on to predict "Gov. Rick Scott was "going to do some great things" and termed his executive appointments thus far as "solid choices." The Lake County senator also indicated that in addition to budget issues he would be active in immigration reform efforts and water management district issues.

Agreeing with Hays on the budget, Sen. Simmons stated, "We've got some real challenges with the deficit" and charged the federal government with its irresponsible spending policies was the real culprit in causing the fiscal crisis.  While hoping education funding could be "held harmless as much as possible," Simmons reminded his audience there had been dramatic increases in educational funding under recent Florida governors.  On teacher merit pay reform, Simmons predicted a "kindler, gentler version" would likely emerge this session and result in "the 5 percent of the teachers causing 95% of the problem having to find another job."

In his remarks, Precourt clearly telegraphed that any new taxes, such as an internet tax, or increasing existing taxes were off his committee's agenda this session.  In finding a solution to the gaping Unemployment Compensation Fund deficit, Precourt stated the legislature would try to be as "lenient as is possible" with the business community.  Asked directly about the prospects for SunRail, Precourt, a strong SunRail proponent, indicated he was not overly concerned by Gov. Scott's recent move to review SunRail  contracts and was confident of its ultimate construction.

Eisnaugle, an attorney, expects his committee to be in the middle of what are expected to be some pitched legislative battles over further tort reform and the expected attempts by some legislative leaders irritated by some recent court decisions where they feel courts have "overreached" into legislative branch prerogatives may seek legislative remedies.   

Adams, Webster Vow to Curb Borrowing and Spending

Friday, December 3, 2010

BusinessForce, the political action arm of the Central Florida Partnership, hosted the newest members of our Regional Congressional Delegation, Cong.-elect Sandy Adams (R-Oviedo) and Cong.-elect Daniel Webster (R-Winter Garden) at the Dec. 2nd BusinessForce "Insider's Briefing" luncheon presented by AT&T and supporting sponsors Tucker Hall and Progress Energy.

Click here to view more photos from this event.

Adams and Webster who handily defeated their freshmen opponents, Cong. Suzanne Kosmas (D-New Smyrna Beach) and Cong. Alan Grayson (D-Orlando), respectively will assume their congressional seats on Jan. 5th.  During the course of the luncheon, both members shared with BusinessForce members and their invited guests some initial impressions gained from their recent visits to our nation's capital to prepare for the convening of the 112th Congress. 

Webster indicated he was "shocked" during the new member orientation over the excessive and pricey House of Representatives staff and pledged to work to "clean up our own House first."  Adams also shared her dismay over the massive House bureaucracy she had to overcome just to secure an office.

Current federal borrowing and spending policies also came under heavy attack from Webster and Adams.  Webster stated, "We are borrowing and spending $4 billion daily and I'm going to do my part to turn off the spigot.  I know there is plenty of room to cut in Washington." Adams, who hopes to serve on the House Appropriations Committee, assured her audience that she, unlike many who have served on that committee, would be "looking for ways to cut the federal budget, not increase it."

Both freshmen congressmen reflected on the nasty tone of their recent congressional campaigns and suggested that campaigns today could still be won without resorting to such tactics.  Each also thanked many in the audience for their strong election backing while asking them for their continued support as they prepare to confront the many tough decisions that lie ahead in Washington.

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Rick Scott Appears at BusinessForc; Touts 7-7-7 Plan

Friday, August 13, 2010

With the statewide polls tightening further and some now showing Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum gaining momentum in the Aug. 24th Republican Primary for governor, Naples businessman Rick Scott brought his campaign to become Florida's next Chief Executive to a special Aug. 13th BusinessForce "Insider's Briefing" luncheon hosted by the BusinessForce Board of Directors and sponsored by AT&T with supporting sponsors Tucker Hall and Progress Energy.

Accompanied to the luncheon by his wife, Ann, Scott referred in his prepared remarks to his humble childhood beginnings and the struggles of his parents which helped him better understand the current tough economic times and its impact on individuals.   Scott went to link his qualifications to become governor to his lifetime of building successful businesses such as the giant hospital chain HCA Columbia, Solantic and Florida's first healthcare channel.  He also cited his leadership in forming the Coalition for Patient's Rights, an organization created to fight President Obama's health care reform initiatives.

Rick Scott at BusinessForce Rick Scott at BusinessForce

Taking direct aim at his GOP rival, Attorney General Bill McCollum, Scott charged, "To change the state we must change who we elect.  The choice on August 24th is between a career politician and a businessperson who understands the impact taxes, fees and regulations have on businesses and job creation."   Stating "I'm not an insider," Scott suggested he would bring brand new ideas to Tallahassee by shaking up a state government whose "budget has exploded in the last 10 years" by directly questioning each state agency and its goals while closely scrutinizing taxes and fees.   

To get Florida economy moving again, Scott touted his 7-7-7 Plan (7 Steps to Create 700,000 Jobs in 7 years) which includes accountability budgeting, spending and tax reductions, regulatory reform, world class universities along with job growth and retention.

Following his remarks, Scott responded to several questions from his audience on a range of topics and also fielded a question from Sen. Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando) on his position on the proposed SunRail by indicating the project "must show be a great return on investment."  

To learn how you can become involved in BusinessForce visit or contact

Attorney General Bill McCollum Campaigns at BusinessForce

Friday, May 7, 2010

The front-running Republican candidate for governor, Attorney General Bill McCollum, brought his 2010 campaign for the Florida governor's mansion to BusinessForce at a special May 7th"Insider's Briefing" luncheon presented by Host Sponsor AT&T and Supporting Sponsors Tucker Hall and Progress Energy.

Bill McCollum speaks at BusinessForce Bill McCollum

Click here for more photos from this event.

McCollum, fresh in from personally surveying the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that he termed "a mass hard to comprehend," began his luncheon remarks with an update on his efforts to assist with oil spill claims by impacted Floridians.  He predicted there would be "huge damages to businesses and the environment."

Turning to his gubernatorial campaign, McCollum stated, "I'm running because of the future and I want to do something for our next generation."  A key part of McCollum's platform is to create an economic climate that will diversify Florida's the economy and move away from dependence on its two largest industries, tourism and agriculture.  

To accomplish this, McCollum outlined his four point economic plan which included:

  • A corporate income reduction and sales tax changes for targeted industries, such as biotech, and for high-tech equipment.

  • Common sense regulations for our highly-regulated state 

  • Dramatic improvements in Florida's educational system

  • Litigation reform making Florida more competitive with other states

McCollum will face several challengers an Aug. 24th Republican Primary and if successful, will take on the presumptive Democratic nominee, Florida's Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, in the November 2nd general election.

Alex Sink Tells BusinessForce: "I'm Running For Governor To Turn The Economy Around"

Monday, April 4, 2010

The presumptive 2010 Democratic nominee for governor, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, brought her campaign for the Florida Governor's Mansion to BusinessForce on April 5th for a special BusinessForce "Insider's Briefing" luncheon presented by host sponsor AT&T and supporting sponsors Tucker Hall and Progress Energy.

Alex Sink and Richard Crotty Alex Sink

Above left: (l to r) BusinessForce Chair Derek Bruce with Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.
Above right: (l to r) Orange County Mayor Richard T. Crotty with Alex Sink. Click here for more photos. 

Sink, who appears likely to face Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum in the November general election, stated in her luncheon remarks Florida is in "a state of economic crisis" and was no longer the "land of opportunity and dreams" that she once knew. She shared with her audience of BusinessForce investors and guests that she is running for governor for many reasons and key among them were "to present a business plan to remake the Florida economy and a path to turn the economy around." Saying she would "not just talk the talk, but walk the walk," Sink went on to offer her vision of a "global medical plan" that would encourage greater foreign usage of Florida's world class health care facilities and also pledged to "build out creative industries and the arts."

Citing her childhood roots on a North Carolina farm where she learned at an early age to solve problems and developed her "fiscally conservative nature," Sink touted her extensive business background as a top Bank of America executive in Florida as uniquely qualifying her for governor.

Elected Florida's Chief Financial Officer in 2006, once in office Sink indicated she had focused heavily on putting her business background to work for Floridians by making strong efforts to free up credit for small businesses, ending annuity fraud against seniors, improving state risk and claims management and streamlining management in state government. Sink claimed to have been the first top state official to speak out about the huge unemployment compensation tax increase and credited SunRail's success in large part to her hard work to iron out the critical liability concerns threatening its approval.

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Dick Batchelor, Tico Perez Mix It Up At Businessforce

Thursday, February 4, 2010

BusinessForce kicked off what could be the most exciting election cycle for our region and state in a generation by presenting on Feb. 4th the first in its 2010 series of "Insider's Briefings" sponsored by host sponsor AT&T and supporting sponsors Tucker Hall and Progress Energy. Special guest speakers for the event were Democratic strategist and consultant Dick Batchelor who was joined by his Republican counterpart, Tico Perez.

Tico Perez and Dick Batchelor Tico Perez and Dick Batchelor

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At the national level following the healthcare reform debacle, both speakers saw the focus in Washington now moving to jobs and the economy with Batchelor holding that President Obama had exhausted precious political capital on healthcare reform and Perez suggested the Democrats were forming "a circular firing squad" in its aftermath.

Batchelor observed that many congressmen, with their jobs on the line and election day looming, are not as concerned with principles now but self-preservation. He went on to add that that the Republicans face a risk by not providing alternatives. Citing the recent negative Moody's report on U. S. bonds, Perez offered his view that Obama must change his approach to the federal budget and went on to urged "business solutions rather than government solutions" to the nation's budget woes.

The two also sparred over the impact of a recent landmark U. S. Supreme Court ruling on corporate contributions with Batchelor lamenting the potential for foreign influence in U.S. elections and Perez defending the first amendment rights upheld under the ruling.

In the marquee Florida U.S. Senate race, Batchelor foresaw an early exit by Gov. Charlie Crist brought on by the state's budget problems and predicted difficulties for him in the upcoming legislative session. While Perez disagreed on the Crist exit, he suggested a possible endorsement by former Gov. Jeb Bush for the current GOP frontrunner, former House Speaker Marco Rubio, could be fatal for the governor.

In some top tier local races, both Batchelor and Perez agreed re-election would be very difficult for incumbent freshman Cong. Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) against "any meaningful candidate" in the 8th Congressional district and the developing "dirty, nasty" race would receive national attention. In the Orange County Mayoral race, Perez felt the recent entry of former Commissioner Teresa Jacobs has "complicated the race" and both he and Batchelor predicted that she will likely face Commissioner Bill Segal in a run-off.

Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R-Miami)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R-Miami) brought his campaign for the 2010 Republican U.S. Senate nomination to BusinessForce when he appeared as the guest speaker on Oct. 29th at a BusinessForce "Insider's Briefing" luncheon for the BusinessForce Board of Directors and their invited guests presented by host sponsor AT&T and supporting sponsor Tucker Hall.

suzanne kosmas

Click here for more photos from this event.

Rubio, who presided as the Grand Master of Ceremonies at the Chamber's 2006 HobNob, served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2002 to 2006 representing Miami-Dade County. He capped his legislative career as the 2004 to 2006 Speaker of the House and retired from the legislature when he was term limited in 2006.

Rubio will meet Florida Gov. Charlie Crist next year in an August 24th Republican primary that is expected to be hotly contested and is already rapidly gaining national attention.

Sharing with the BusinessForce audience his reasons for seeking the Senate seat, Rubio stated, "Never before in history has there been a society like America" but added "That will not be the case if we choose the wrong road as we will go the way of all the others and my kids and yours will be the first Americans to inherit a diminished nation." Rubio maintained that the tradition of limited government has set us and our economy apart and sharply criticized the economic direction in Washington today which has "saddled us and our children with debt."

Rubio also fielded a number of questions on current issues before Congress. On healthcare reform, Rubio called for "creating a vibrant, private insurance market" and slammed the pending healthcare reform legislation providing a 'public option" stating it would undoubtedly lead to "government control of healthcare" and the demise of the private insurance industry. Regarding energy issues, Rubio underscored the need to meet America's energy needs by developing energy from a wide variety of sources, including offshore drilling. In response to a question about Israel and the current Middle East situation, Rubio indicated he feared for the survival of Israel and warned of the danger of nuclear weapons proliferation in Iran and other countries in that politically volatile region.

BusinessForce "Insider's Briefings" are not fund-raisers, but instead an opportunity to meet and hear from Florida's top political leaders and decision makers from both political parties in an informal, private session. These events are by invitation only. For more information, contact Mike Ketchum at 407.835.2464 or

Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas (D-New Smyrna Beach)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Freshman Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas (D-New Smyrna Beach) made her first BusinessForce appearance at an August 26th BusinessForce "Insider's Briefing" luncheon hosted by AT&T and supporting sponsor Tucker Hall.

Kosmas began her remarks to her BusinessForce audience by indicating she had committed in her campaign to be a strong advocate in Washington on important issues affecting small business, the Kennedy Space Center and veterans and cited several examples of honoring her promise since being elected. 

suzanne kosmas

Click here for more photos from this event.

Turning to the current severe economic downturn, Kosmas called it "the deepest economic recession in a lifetime" and defended congressional efforts to provide "economic relief, investment and stabilization" through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to "stop the bleeding and save financial institutions."  Kosmas also pointed to the positive effect ARRA had locally on saving teaching jobs and avoiding school closures.  Regarding the prospects for accessing federal stimulus dollars earmarked for High Speed Rail between Orlando and Tampa, Kosmas was optimistic that Central Florida would be successful. 

With growing opposition throughout America over the controversial and costly federal healthcare reform initiatives that are currently under consideration in the nation's capital, Kosmas stated her view that it was "important to have a civil dialogue" on the subject.  She went on to dispel what she termed "misinformation" on the proposed legislation by saying it contained no "death panels" or changes to Medicare or veteran's benefits. 

As Congress continues its work this fall on healthcare reform, Kosmas termed healthcare costs as "unsustainable" in the future and added that an important consideration in gaining her support would be whether the legislation "bends the cost curve downward" and does not add to the federal deficit.  However, in response to a question, she would not commit to oppose any legislation that does not do so by saying that was" a hypothetical question."

Congressman Adam Putnam Blasts Card Check at BusinessForce

June 29, 2009

Congressman Adam Putnam (R-Bartow), a 2010 Republican candidate for the State Cabinet post of Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer services, brought his statewide campaign to the June 29th BusinessForce "Insider's Briefing" luncheon hosted by the BusinessForce Board of Directors.

Click here for more photos from this event.

Putnam began his luncheon remarks with a report on current congressional activity and took direct aim at the proposed "Card Check" legislation permitting unions to organize workplaces without a secret ballot.  Calling it "an invasive threat to the free enterprise business model" he went on to warn of its dire implications in the workplace for both small as well as large businesses.   

The Bartow congressman also commented on the controversial "cap and trade" energy bill before Congress stating it was "severely wounded as it goes to the Senate" and charged the current version clearly "disadvantages the southeastern United States" and places America at a "competitive and cost disadvantage with other countries."

Putnam indicated a growing consensus in Congress was developing for comprehensive healthcare reform but sounded an alarm that approval of a "public option" plan will eventually lead to a "single payer" plan and lead to the demise of private health plans.

Turning to his upcoming statewide campaign, Putnam discussed some of the key powers and responsibilities of the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services and, citing his strong agribusiness background, stated the business community had "a vested interest in putting the best team on the field."  According to Putnam, a major focus of the department, if he is elected, will be to work with others on the Florida Cabinet to develop a "strategic vision for Florida" to re-locate out-of-state businesses and develop new businesses.

BusinessForce Celebrates Election of Political Leadership Institute Graduates

Monday, May 18, 2009

In just over a year, three graduates from the 2008 Class of the BusinessForce Political Leadership Institute (PLI) have been elected to public office in our region.  Their appearance last week at a special BusinessForce "Insider's Briefing" luncheon hosted by sponsor AT&T and supporting sponsor Tucker Hall was a BusinessForce "homecoming" for the successful trio.

First, Nancy Robbinson was elected in 2008 to a seat on the Orange County School Board when the incumbent elected not to seek re-election.  Robbinson's election was shortly followed by that of Brandon Arrington to the Osceola County Commission where he outlasted two veteran Osceola political figures.  Most recently, Ken Bradley ousted the one-term incumbent and became Winter Park's new mayor in 2009. 

Robbinson, who prior to her election was a College Park community volunteer leader, termed the PLI  "an incredible experience and a blast."  Since assuming her school board seat she has been "juggling her time" facing a "whirlwind" of controversial educational issues plus a school budget crisis.  She urged other PLI graduates in the audience potentially considering a run for public office to "get a puppy to come home to" and to be certain they have a supportive family.

Osceola County businessman Brandon Arrington called PLI " a wonderful experience" that provided him critical campaign mail and messaging tips that led to his campaign's successful outcome.  Stating one had "better have guts" to serve in office today, Arrington indicated he was working aggressively since assuming office to build political support for improving Osceola County's transportation infrastructure and to make it a greener community. 

Winter Park Hospital Executive Ken Bradley revealed his real concern in running was not about winning or losing but assuring an incumbent does not go unopposed.  He also shared with his audience a number of the important lessons he learned on the campaign trail which included underestimating the amount of money and preparation needed for a successful campaign.  Currently, his focus in City Hall is on the city's financial situation and resolving issues concerning Winter Park's "heritage vs. its future."

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BusinessForce Hears from Region's Freshmen Legislators

Thursday, February 26, 2009

With the 2009 legislative session just days away, BusinessForce, the political action arm of the Central Florida Partnership, held the second of its six 2009 BusinessForce "Insider's Briefings" hosted by AT&T and supporting sponsor Tucker Hall on Feb. 26th. The private luncheon for BusinessForce investors and their guests featured three of the region's four freshmen legislators Representatives Eric Eisnaugle (R-Orlando), Mike Horner (R-Kissimmee) and Scott Plakon (R-Longwood). Representative Steve Crisafulli (R-Merritt Island) was unfortunately unable to participate due to an illness in the family.

(l to r) Representatives Scott Plakon (R-Longwood),
Eric Eisnaugle (R-Orlando) & Mike Horner (R-Kissimmee)
Click here for more photos

Kicking off the luncheon program, Rep. Horner praised the 2009 freshman class as "a good, strong group of pro-business conservatives." He indicated his priority interests during the session would be in the economic development and transportation areas along with a "mission to support House Speaker-designate Rep. Dean Cannon." Horner also strongly encouraged BusinessForce to join with him and other delegation members to ensure another member from the regional delegation, Rep. Chris Dorworth (R-Lake Mary) nails down the House Speaker's post in 2014.

Rep. Eric Eisnaugle called the entire Central Florida delegation "impressive" and predicted they would face many "big challenges" during the upcoming session. Eisnaugle indicated he was honored to have been tapped to sponsor Attorney General Bill McCollum's priority legislation. With crime "devastating our economy," Eisnaugle stated getting a handle on the rising crime rate in the region will be a top priority with him.

Calling the state budget crisis the "800 pound gorilla in the room," Rep. Scott Plakon stated he was "open to the idea" of a cigarette tax increase. With "jobs and the economy" uppermost on his constituent's minds, the freshman legislator will push a research and development tax credit measure to spur job growth. Another Plakon priority will be legislation to aid in preventing devastating bird strikes on airplanes.

Senator Lee Constantine

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sen. Lee Constantine, (R-Altamonte Springs) kicked off the 2009 series of BusinessForce "Insider's Briefings" hosted by AT&T and supporting sponsor Tucker Hall last week. The powerful veteran senator who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and serves on the influential Senate Transportation Committee spoke before members of the BusinessForce Executive Board and their invited guests.

Derek Bruce, 2009 BusinessForce Chair; Florida Senator Lee Constantine; Patricia J. Engfer, 2009 Chair, Central Florida Partnership; William E. Carlson, Jr.. Tucker Hall, Inc., Sponsor of BusinessForce "Insiders Briefings;" Jeffrey Q. Jonasen, Past Chair, BusinessForce.

In his luncheon remarks, Constantine reported the recently concluded Special Session was "not fun" and predicted a challenging 2009 legislative loomed ahead with "everything on the table." Discussing the state budget, Constantine noted over $9 billion had been cut from the budget since the 2008 General Legislative Session.

Derek Bruce, 2009 BusinessForce Chair; Florida Senator Lee Constantine; Patricia J. Engfer, 2009 Chair, Central Florida Partnership; William E. Carlson, Jr.. Tucker Hall, Inc., Sponsor of BusinessForce "Insiders Briefings;" Jeffrey Q. Jonasen, Past Chair, BusinessForce.

Before discussing its prospects and the politics surrounding SunRail in the upcoming legislative session, Constantine blamed the demise of SunRail in the 2008 legislative session on "a perfect storm." Nevertheless, he believes the stage has now been set in 2009 for the best "policy and infrastructure session ever." Constantine received a round of applause from the BusinessForce audience following his declaration "We are going to win SunRail!"

In his appearance Constantine also stressed his strong personal commitment to the proposed Wekiva Parkway and proper funding levels for the UCF Medical School.

Orange County Commissioners Mildred Fernandez and Bill Segal

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The BusinessForce Board of Directors, BusinessForce investors and their guests gathered to hear from Orange County Commissioners Mildred Fernandez and Bill Segal at a Feb. 28th BusinessForce "Insider's Briefing" breakfast hosted by AT&T and supporting sponsor Tucker Hall.

In the face of an increasingly challenging revenue picture for the county, Commissioner Fernandez focused during her remarks on some major achievements in Orange County. She cited expanded county health clinics, jail and fire facilities and improvements in parks along with increased sheriff deputies. With the recent passage of property tax relief and a slowing economy, she indicated the county would have to "work even smarter" in the future. Fernandez encouraged the BusinessForce audience to redouble its efforts in support of commuter rail stating it was "not a done deal."

Commissioner Segal termed the successful downtown venues effort in 2007 "a great victory" for the community but signaled his reading of the county tea leaves ahead was somewhat "cloudy" and suggested further county belt tightening was likely with cuts coming in county construction, road and park budgets. Segal added there was also considerable uncertainty on our downtown, tourism and the future of Innovation Way. He echoed Fernandez that it was essential the commuter rail project be completed.

Congressman Ric Keller (R-Orlando)

Friday, August 24, 2007

BusinessForce members and their guests convened for an August 24th BusinessForce "Insider's Briefing" luncheon hosted by AT&T along with supporting sponsor Tucker Hall to hear Congressman Ric Keller (R-Orlando).

Congressman Ric Keller.
Click here for more photos.

The congressman focused heavily on crime, Iraq, national security and local constituent services in his luncheon remarks.

Keller called Orlando's 100% increase in murder with 73% of the murders drug-related a "massive problem" with potentially serious real implications for our tourism-dependent economy. To attack the crime outbreak, Keller cited his staunch support for the federal C.O.P.S. program which will result in the placement of 330 new policemen in the area.

The current situation in Iraq received considerable attention from Keller who admitted the President's plans for the surge, which he opposed, had caught him "off guard." While Keller indicated he strongly supports the troops, he contended the surge unfortunately had resulted in "zero progress" on the political front in Iraq but had evidenced some success on the military front where he termed the performance of U.S. troops "spectacular."

According to Keller, Al-Queda has regenerated its strength in Pakistan. He related his disappointing recent visit with to Pakistan President Musharrf where the Pakistani leader admitted to Keller he "had no interest" in finding Osama Bin Laden.

Locally, Keller reported on his effort to beef up his district office staff so that constituent services are expanded and enhanced. Also, in order to get a better handle on the crime problem, Keller will be riding with officers on duty in high crime areas.

After concluding his remarks, Keller was roundly applauded by the BusinessForce audience for his 97% pro-business cumulative voting record as scored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce since his arrival in Congress in 2001.

To learn more about how you can become active in BusinessForce, contact

The 2007 Legislative Session Wrap-Up

Thursday, July 12, 2007

BusinessForce members, joined by several members of the Regional Legislative Delegation along with a number of invited guests, received a special post-legislative session briefing from the Florida Chamber of Commerce's new Regional Advocate, former Orlando Rep. Sheri McInvale, at a BusinessForce "Insider's Briefing" luncheon hosted by AT&T and supporting sponsor Tucker Hall on July 12th.

In her presentation, McInvale discussed a number of the important issues addressed during the 2007 legislative session impacting Florida businesses and also touched on the political environment ahead for the business community as the 2008 election year approaches.

Also on hand to offer their insightful perspectives on several critical issues such as property tax and insurance reform considered during the 2007 regular legislative session and two special sessions were Representatives David Simmons (R-Altamonte Springs), Frank Attkisson (R-Kissimmee) and Bryan Nelson (R-Apopka). BusinessForce saluted each member for their consistent pro-business voting records while serving in the legislature.

Dominic M. Calabro

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dominic Calabro is President and Chief Executive Officer of Florida TaxWatch.

BusinessForce Board Meets, Hears From Four Freshmen Legislators

Thursday, February 1, 2007

With the 2008 election cycle already approaching, BusinessForce hit the ground running last week with its first 2007 Board of Directors meeting and the first in a series of six "Insider's Briefings" slated for 2007.

(l to r) Mike Ketchum, Rep. Scott Randolph, Rep. Geraldine Thompson, Rep. Bryan Nelson, Rep. Steve Precourt and Jeff Jonasen.
Click here for more photos.

At the January 29th Board of Directors meeting BusinessForce Chair Jeff Jonasen welcomed four new board members Carolyn Gosselin (CNL), Dori Madison (Tucker Hall), Jay Galbraith (SeaWorld), and Jason Gamel (American Resort Development Assn.).

A number of important matters on the political horizon were discussed during the board meeting. Among the topics discussed were planning for an expected vacancy in House Dist. 49, two Osceola County Commission races, proactively responding to efforts in Orange County to enact more stringent ethics and campaign finance laws and the possibility of a establishing a future BusinessForce Candidate Training Program.

In order to successfully address these and other upcoming matters, Chair Jonasen tapped Rich Morrison (Florida Hospital), John McReynolds (Universal Orlando), Debbie Clements (Progress Energy) and Derek Bruce (Walt Disney World) to head special subcommittees composed of BusinessForce Board of Directors members.

Later in the week, BusinessForce members and their guests gathered on February 1st for a special Mardi Gras-themed BusinessForce "Insider's Briefing" luncheon at Pat O'Brien's in City Walk hosted by BellSouth with supporting sponsors Tucker Hall and Universal Orlando.

Appearing during the luncheon were the four freshmen legislators in the Regional Legislative Delegation Representatives Bryan Nelson (R-Apopka), Steve Precourt (R-Orlando), Scott Randolph (D-Orlando) and Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando).

In their remarks to the BusinessForce audience, each legislator gave their views on the recently concluded special session on property insurance reform and on a wide range of issues they will focus on during the upcoming legislative session.

Rep. Thompson will be giving top priority to her legislation addressing high school dropouts and emphasizing Florida's African-American Heritage while her fellow Democrat, Rep. Scott Randolph indicated he will target reforming campaign finance laws. As to their Republican colleagues, Rep. Bryan Nelson revealed he will be a leading advocate for developing alternative energy sources in Florida and Rep. Steve Precourt can be expected to push hard for more school choice and work diligently on transportation issues.

Discussing the recent special session, Nelson stated there was "still work to do" to bring down insurance rates and give the insurance industry incentives to re-enter the market. Randolph agreed on the need for re-entry of the private market but felt the legislature did not create undue risk to taxpayers and "sell the farm" during the special session.

On property tax reform, which is expected to get major play in the regular session, Randolph called for a balanced approach, which would not shift the tax burden to the business community.

During the question and answer session following their luncheon remarks, major disagreement between the Democratic and Republican members was seen over controversial education issues such as FCAT reform, teacher pay and school choice.

Insider's Briefings are open to BusinessForce Members only. Click here for more information on how you can participate in BusinessForce activities.

For more information about BusinessForce Insiders Briefings, please contact Mike Ketchum at 407.835.2464 or

BusinessForce is the political action arm of the Orlando Economic Partnership. The focus of this line of business is to affect positive change in Central Florida through regional public policy advocacy; BusinessForce helps guide regional leaders by encouraging and supporting candidates for public office who, as public officials, will embrace free enterprise and sound business principles.

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