Over 90 business leaders gathered to hear Florida House Representative David Richardson’s insight on current and future legislation and its impact on Miami Beach at the Quarterly Pillar Breakfast hosted by the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) at the Alexander All-Suites Oceanfront Resort on Friday, July 11.
Richardson, who represents District 113 (Miami, Miami Beach, North Bay Village, Downtown Miami, East Little Havana) in the Florida House of Representatives, spoke in great length about hot topics such as Florida’s budget, Uber and medical marijuana, to name a few.
Chairman of the Chamber and SVP of Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust Michael S. Goldberg, opened the event, and Chairman of the Pillar Board DeAnne Connolly Graham, introduced Richardson and welcomed the guests.
“The state of Florida has a $77 billion budget, with about one-third coming from the federal government,” he said. “If we were a separate country we would rank about 20th or 25th in terms of world economies… so we’re kind of a big deal here.” This further explains how complicated it can be to solve issues in our state.
Richardson then outlined what has been accomplished in Tallahassee saying, “It became really clear to me that this past session was going to be all about the gubernatorial election.”
Some big initiatives from the Governor include a half a billion dollars in tax cuts with $400 million of that related to the auto tag issue and $100 million being put towards tax relief related to the tax free “back to school” holiday as well as hurricane preparedness. On the issue of healthcare, most bills proposed this year “blew up.”
Nevertheless, Richardson was able to put something through saying, “I had a bill that I was running related to tax and hospitals and I got that done.” Other healthcare reforms include doctors now being able to have more physician assistants, along with some pharmacy audit changes.
Medical marijuana has also passed in the state but solely the Charlotte’s Web strain. Richardson explains that “Democrats have been pushing an initiative to get medical marijuana on the ballot, and that has passed, clearing all the legal hurdles, and there will be a referendum item on the ballot in November asking people to approve medical marijuana.” If this passes, growers that have been in the agriculture business for over 30 years will be able to take part in the new industry.
Through Richardson’s support, line items that received funding in Miami Beach consist of educational programs at the Holocaust Memorial, a water project to fund the water issues in Miami Beach and the Miami River commission. Richardson then goes on to discuss what “didn’t happen” this year. This includes red light camera conflicts, a bill to increase the speed limit from 70 to 75 mph, and a bill that would allow school personnel, retired military and law enforcement officers working in a school to carry guns.
Richardson closed by highlighting his predictions for the future of Florida legislation. Hot topics for the upcoming legislators include the gaming industry and its ties to the Florida Indian tribes. With a contract expiring soon, the governor and its leaders will most likely renegotiate another long term contract on gaming. Another, hot topic was Uber that he said would cause a major “food fight.” As Uber lobbied in Florida’s legislation, the taxi industry did the same. However, as Richardson believes, this was just a warm-up for Uber for 2015. Throughout these conflicts, Uber has been eating the fines given to their drivers.
Of note, Florida is set to become the third most populated state with Texas dropping to fourth. Being a swing state, “Florida is such an important state for presidential elections.” Whatever happens in the gubernatorial elections in November will affect the elections in 2016.
Raised from humble beginnings, his family moved to Florida when he was ten years old. After completing high school, he attended the University of Central Florida, earning two degrees: Biology and Accountancy. Upon graduating he worked as an auditor for the U.S. Department of Defense. Richardson was charged with identifying fraud and waste in government contracts. He earned a Masters in Business Administration degree from the University of Tampa, and in 1985 he was awarded a Certified Public Accountant certificate and license from the State of Florida, which he has maintained for the past 28 years. After his tenure with the Department of Defense, David worked for Ernst & Young – one of the largest and most respected auditing and consulting firms in the world.
During his time there he continued to develop his expertise in the area of government accounting and finance. In 1993, David pursued his dream of starting a small advisory services firm focused on accounting and finance issues relating to government contracts.