Chamber attracts crowd for legislative update

400-WENDLAND-THRASHERMore than 150 people gathered in the Champion Ballroom at Sawgrass Marriott Resort and Conference Center on PGA Tour Boulevard in Ponte Vedra Beach this morning to attend the St Johns County Chamber of Commerce 2013 Legislative Update.

The annual program is a signature event of the Chamber’s business advocacy effort and featured a panel discussion from state lawmakers Senator John Thrasher, Representative Doc Renuart and Representative Travis Hutson, a federal update from Congressman Ron DeSantis and a special message from US Senator Marco Rubio.

“Our lawmakers were happy to share what they’ve been working on and listen to what our businesses need,” Kirk Wendland, President of the St Johns County Chamber of Commerce said. “We are fortunate to have legislators that care about informing and helping their constituency and the business community.”

Participants in the state legislative panel agreed that private sector jobs and the health of the state and local economy were paramount in their agendas. Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Brad Swanson moderated the discussions and comments.

One of the highlights of the session, expressed by Senator Thrasher, “We passed a state budget with no new taxes and no new fees.”

St Johns County boasts the state’s highest ranked public school system. Representative Hutson, who graduated from Pedro Menendez High School, detailed his bill for a dual pathway to graduation for high school students who are seeking to be workplace ready once they graduate.

“Jobs and prosperity are directly linked to education,” Senator Thrasher added. “Highly effective teachers should and will get a raise.” All three state lawmakers voted to bolster the education budget for a second consecutive year.

Congressman DeSantis took the podium and called for accountability in Washington. He cited recent inquisitions into the actions of the IRS and Attorney General to question appointed leaders making decisions without accountability.

The Congressman also specifically discussed the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and his work to support tort reform.

“Small and mid-sized businesses are the backbone of our economy,” US Senator Marco Rubio said in a video message. “By growing, by starting, by hiring new people, they are the fuel of the engine that runs the economy of our nation and of our state; I want to thank all of you for the contribution that you make.”

“I believe the job of the Federal Government, in fact I believe the job of all government, is to be involved in a way that makes it easier for people to start a new business, to hire more people, to grow their existing business, to have the confidence in the future that they can expand,” the Senator added.

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