TODAY: Florida’s Republican-Controlled Senate Holds Hearing on LGBT Non-discrimination

By Adam Polaski • January 26, 2016 • 11:17 am

Update 1/26, 3:30pm: The hearing on the Competitive Workforce Act was postponed until next week, at which time it will be the first bill discussed, and all will be able to share their thoughts and views on the bill. Keep watching #PassCWA – and our coalition partners at Florida Competes – for updates.

Today at 1pm ET in Tallahassee, Florida, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear the Florida Competitive Workforce Act – the first time a non-discrimination bill covering lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people has ever received a hearing in the Sunshine State. The bill provides comprehensive protections for LGBT Floridians across employment, housing and public accommodations. The bipartisan bill has gained momentum in recent weeks, with Republican Senators Jack Latvala and Travis Hutson both signing on as co-sponsors. Just yesterday, the House version of the bill, introduced by Republican Rep. Holly Raschein gained the support of House Majority Leader Dana Young (R-Tampa), who said, “This is an issue that transcends party.”

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A similar bill has been introduced for the past eight years, but it has never received a hearing. The advancement of the bill today demonstrates the growing, undeniable movement for non-discrimination across the state.

Freedom for All Americans Executive Director Matt McTighe said this week:

“This is a historic moment for Florida. Lawmakers will have an opportunity to hear first-hand from Floridians whose lives will be better because of the Competitive Workforce Act, and that’s a powerful step forward. This is not only an opportunity to extend protections to the hundreds of thousands of Floridians currently lacking them, but it also sends a message that we can and will make progress on advancing nondiscrimination legislation – particularly in red, southern states.”

Support for the Florida Competitive Workforce Act is diverse, but particularly strong within Florida’s business community. Hundreds of businesses big and small have joined the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition to voice their support for the legislation. All of the key industries are represented in the coalition, including tourism, technology, infrastructure, banking and finance.

It’s no surprise leading businesses support the Florida Competitive Workforce Act. Last year, a study found employers in the Sunshine State lost $362 million annually in productivity and turnover due to the lack of nondiscrimination protections.

McTighe added:

“Lawmakers are becoming increasingly aware that nondiscrimination bills aren’t just the right thing to do, but they’re also important to their state’s economy. We’re hopeful that as more and more Republicans and business leaders speak out for nondiscrimination protections, we’ll see these types of bills advance in other states as well.”

Freedom for All Americans’ States Action Team – where we deploy staff members and strategic guidance to coalitions working aggressively to pass LGBT non-discrimination legislation – is standing today with our coalition partners at Florida Competes. Learn more about Florida Competes here.


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