March 22, 2023

To: Members of the Florida Legislature

From: Americans for Tax Reform

Re: More Opportunities for Taxpayer Wins in 2023

Dear Legislator,

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and our supporters across Florida, I thank you for your public service and applaud your efforts to protect Florida taxpayers and promote a free and prosperous economy. 

As this session moves forward, we urge you to continue to keep Florida’s tax and business climate as one of the best in the nation – and specifically to reject any tax increases. As Gov. DeSantis and legislators continue to make Florida more free, ATR supports a number of tremendous legislative opportunities that would improve the state further. 

Reducing the Communications Services Tax

Though Florida’s tax climate is as good as any state’s, there are opportunities to move further ahead of the competition. One of those opportunities is reducing the Communications Services Tax (CST). 

Florida has the 12th-highest CST in the nation. This monthly tax hits nearly every single family in Florida and, in many cases, multiple times due to having multiple devices.

ATR supports SB 1432/HB 1153, which would lower the state portion of Florida’s CST by 1.44 percentage points, bringing the total state CST rate down to 6 percent (the same as the sales tax). These bills would also create a moratorium on local governments increasing their CST rates for the next 3 years, ensuring local officials do not undermine this much-needed tax relief.

Universal Occupational License Recognition

A major reason Florida is the fastest growing state in the country is the welcoming environment for workers. That has been improved with the success of Governor DeSantis’ “de-regathon,” and occupational licensing reforms that the legislature approved.

Legislators can take another huge step forward by passing full universal occupational license recognition, SB 1364, sponsored by Sen. Collins. This bill would have the state recognize out-of-state licenses that are in good standing. With this update, workers moving to Florida can start working, and contributing to the economy, sooner and with less cost and hassle. At least 20 states have already enacted universal recognition in this model, from Arizona to Ohio. 

Florida has fixed archaic licensing rules that had the state lagging the rest of the country, now it is time for the state to join the leaders on worker freedom and pass SB 1364. 

Paycheck Protection

Going hand-in-hand with protecting taxpayers and workers, ATR supports the Paycheck Protection Act, SB 256 (HB 1445), sponsored by Sen. Ingoglia, and Rep. Black, and proposed by Gov. DeSantis earlier this year. We wrote more on this issue on our website “DeSantis Champions Bill to Protect Workers & Taxpayers from Union Abuse.”

Nobody should be forced to hand control over their paycheck to a union, which then can use that money to advocate for policies that worker may oppose. This legislation would fix that problem, and ensure that public sector workers know they do not have to join a union, and making sure that worker opts in, rather than making them jump through hoops to opt out. 

Ending Driver’s License Suspension for Court Debt

Nearly half of the states have limited the use of driver’s license suspensions as a method to force payment of court debt. Many have ended the practice outright. The courts’ rate of return on this policy remains opaque in many areas, but where we have gleaned good data, it is clear the cost to collect is not good. Meanwhile, especially in a driving-oriented state, suspension makes it very difficult for people to go to work. This is counterproductive to the goals of both government and the individual.

This system costs Florida’s economy an estimated $500 million per year, and 75% of the licenses suspended are not related to dangerous driving (Fines & Fees Justice Center). License suspension should absolutely be used for road safety related violations, but the practice of license suspension to force debt payment turns police into tax collectors and should be reformed. 

ATR urges you to pass HB 921/SB 968 to address these issues. 

Responding to Discriminatory ESG Policies

The politicization of investment decision-making and proxy voting has rightfully become a major concern for state legislators. ATR supports state attorneys general, state financial officers, and state legislators taking appropriate action to reject the consideration of nonpecuniary environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors.

Pension fund fiduciaries must act solely in the interest of plan participants. In many cases, state financial officers have the authority to remove state treasury funds from investment vehicles and fund managers that prioritize politics over generating financial returns. However, pension fund boards, who act as fiduciaries, have the discretionary authority to redeem and subscribe pension fund assets to certain investment products or contract with third party investment management firms. 

Pension fund boards and investment firms must be held accountable. When state legislatures need to act, they should support policies that ensure retirement fund managers uphold their fiduciary duty and focus on maximizing financial returns for retirees. It is imperative to taxpayers, and current and future retirees that politics be removed from the equation entirely.

There are solid models to start with. South Carolina H. 3690, the “ESG Pension Protection Act,” would ensure pecuniary factors drive investment decisions. The American Legislative Exchange Council finalized a strong model bill. ATR urges legislators to follow these examples.

School Choice

ATR also supports universal Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), and applauds your great work advancing House Bill 1. 

Tort Reform 

The state’s flawed legal system is one of the few areas Florida lags other states. It costs Floridians $812.52 per-person (Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse). The total tort cost to the state is the highest burden in the nation, costing Florida 3% of its GDP annually.

ATR applauds legislators and the Governor focusing on addressing this hidden tax, especially at a time federal spending is driving inflation that is crushing families. The reforms in House Bill 541 will protect consumers and taxpayers from wildly high costs of insurance driven by outlier laws that promote scams and litigation. 

A Threat to Consumers & Business

While so many positive things continue to move forward, there is an active threat to Florida taxpayers and consumers ATR urges you to reject in HB 677/SB 564. 

This legislation would prohibit interchange fees on the sales tax portion of electronic payment transactions in Florida. The government would be interfering in the free market in an attempt to control who bears the burden of collecting and remitting sales tax – risking higher costs for Floridians in a time of out-of-control inflation.

The bill would force more transactions to be processed, meaning new costs for systems, software, and even equipment, that will hit small business and consumers in the end. For these reasons ATR hopes you will reject HB 677 and SB 564. 

Thank you for your hard work protecting Florida taxpayers and advancing freedom in the state. Your leadership has set a great example, helping to drive the 20-plus tax cuts we have seen across the states since 2020. That number will only grow as Florida has shown putting taxpayers first is the winning formula.


Grover Norquist


Americans for Tax Reform