Most statehouse Dems get failing grades from big business lobby – and they don’t mind

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is out with its annual report card of all 160 state legislators, and the powerful pro-business lobbying group showered most Republican lawmakers with A’s and B’s for the 2019 legislative session. The Democrats? They mostly got D’s and F’s.

Among the many Democrats receiving an F grade was freshman Rep. Anna Eskamani from Orlando. She said she takes pride in her grade.

“Though I acknowledge the Florida Chamber as a stakeholder in the legislative process and consider their staff to be wonderful people, the F grade myself and other Democrats have received is something to be proud of,” she told the Phoenix. “It’s a reflection of our focus on people over politics, and a desire to do good for our constituents over anything else. The reaction we’ve received from House District 74 has been overwhelmingly positive, and inspires me to keep challenging the status quo.”

Only seven Democrats got B’s or C’s. Three Democratic state senators — Randolph Bracy and Linda Stewart from Orange County and Broward County’s Lauren Book — got B grades. Three Democratic state senators -Annette Taddeo from Miami-Dade County,  Janet Cruz from Tampa and Bill Montford from Tallahassee — got C’s. In the House, Democratic Jacksonville Rep. Kim Daniels also got a B.

Every other Democrat in the House and the Senate received a failing grade.

Scores were broken down by tallying specific votes on bills listed under six main categories: talent, innovation, infrastructure, business climate, governance and quality of life.

Among the bills that the Chamber pushed (and graded accordingly) was the controversial multi-billion-dollar statewide toll road proposal. Another big-business backed measure would have increased the threshold to pass a state constitutional amendment to 66.67 percent of voters – it targeted several ongoing political campaigns, including one to raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour (it didn’t pass). The Chamber also pushed the proposal that lets utilities profit from burying power lines while creating higher bills for customers.

All told, the Chamber issued 98 “A” grades – all to Republicans. But not every Republican earned the highest mark. State Sens George Gainer from the Panhandle and Anitere Flores from Miami got B grades, as did Reps. Erin Grall from Vero Beach and Jackie Toledo from Tampa in the Florida House.

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