Joe Harding Files Bill to Stimulate the Creation of a Capital Market Ecosystem in Florida

On Tuesday, the Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) announced that legislation to stimulate the creation of Florida’s capital market ecosystem has been filed by state Rep. Joe Harding, R-Williston.

Harding’s bill reforms the Florida Securities and Investor Protection Act and creates a regulatory framework that will help stimulate the growth of a self-sustaining, in-state capital market where newly formed businesses can obtain seed or expansion capital.

“As a Floridian and a business owner, I know the challenges that small business owners face when trying to grow and expand their company. This bill removes burdensome regulation to create a framework for a capital market ecosystem in Florida. Florida businesses will be able to raise start-up and expansion capital more easily, stay in the state, and contribute to Florida’s economy,” Harding said.

OFR Commissioner Russell Weigel also weighed in on the bill.

“The goal with HB 779 is to create an environment where Floridians can obtain capital for their start-up and expanding businesses from within our state, hire Floridians, grow the local economy, and ultimately not be lured away from Florida by out-of-state investors. Thank you to Representative Harding and The Florida Bar Business Law Section for their support and hard work to develop this legislation. The Office of Financial Regulation will continue to work with our partners to provide avenues for Florida’s economy to grow while protecting Floridians from scams and bad actors,” he said.

Harding’s bill improves the capacity of Florida-based companies to raise money in Florida by amending the crowdfunding statute, adding the accredited investor exemption, providing a safe harbor for pitch night events, allowing for pre-offering testing of potential investor interest, and revising onerous integration provisions. This bill adds investor protection measures through the finder registration provisions and increased enforcement powers. It also clarifies and improves numerous provisions that are outdated or inaccurate.

The OFR sought and received feedback from Florida capital financing industry professionals, investor groups, small business owners, and from a task force formed by the Florida Bar.

There is currently no related bill in the Florida Senate.

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