It’s the return of the Competitive Workforce Act in Tallahassee and this year it just might get a listen.
In a surprising twist, the annual civil rights bill has been introduced by Republicans.
Florida Senator Jack Latvala, (R-Clearwater) is co-sponsoring Senate Bill 120, joining Sen. Joe Abruzzo (D-Boynton Beach) to propose a law that would protect LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace, public housing and accommodations.
The bill, in years past, has failed to receive a committee hearing. That could change this year with bipartisan support and extra nudging from the corporate world. Supporters of the Competitive Workforce Act include Fortune 500 companies AT&T, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Tech Data, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo.
“As employers competing against other states and even other countries for top talent, they understand more than anybody that creating a welcoming environment that values diversity and a variety of perspectives and experiences gives their companies an advantage to attracting the best and the brightest,” wrote Florida Representative Chris Latvala (R-Clearwater) in an op-ed piece published last week in the Tampa Tribune.
Chris Latvala is one of 19 House representatives who have gone on record as supporting the Competitive Workforce Act (House Bill 45). He co-sponsored the bill with Representative Holly Raschien (R-Key Largo). The bill seeks to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to existing statewide non-discrimination protections.
In addition to the nine Fortune 500 companies, bill supporters claim the backing of 27 major employers and more than 400 local Florida businesses.