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Florida Attractions Industry


Legislative Updates, Alerts and Reports

Periodically throughout the year - especially during Florida Legislative Session - members receive important communications from the FAA regarding issues involving the tourism industry. Please remember that if you receive a LEGISLATIVE ALERT, timing is critical and minutes matter - read it and take immediate action on behalf of the FAA.




A Legislative Update is a summary of recent activity in the Florida State Legislature.

LEGISLATIVE ALERT is an immediate call to action on behalf of the tourism industry.

Legislative Report is information provided by Liberty Partners of Tallahassee on important industry issues.

Latest Updates, Alerts and Reports

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  • May 11, 2020 2:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Liberty Partners would like to wish all mothers a Happy Mother's Day. We hope that you spend this time with family and friends and enjoy your time together.

    Floridians' attention was on the state returning to a sense of normalcy this week, as Phase 1 of Governor Ron DeSantis' Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida's Recovery began on Monday. Restaurants, retail establishments and small businesses are breathing a sigh of relief, as it appears the first week of 25% capacity was a success. Florida's healthcare industry also fared well this week, as a decline in new COVID-19 cases was seen, while hospitalization and fatality rates remained steady. Palm Beach County will enter Phase 1 on May 11, while Miami-Dade and Broward counties have their eyes on reopening in the near future. Local leaders from these counties will look to craft reopening recommendations that can be submitted to Governor DeSantis for final approval in the coming weeks.

    The Governor also announced two executive orders this week in response to COVID-19. These executive orders ensure the safety of all Floridians while allowing hardworking individuals to return to work.

    While hotels, motels and various lodging establishments have stayed open through the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing has remained constant - vacation rentals continue to be prohibited. Questions surrounding the ban on vacation rentals persist as these short-term rental properties pose a much lower risk of spreading the virus than hotels and motels. By using a short-term vacation rental, common areas such as a lobby or concierge desk are eliminated, therefore creating a safe and protected environment. As we move forward in the reopening process, the Expedia Group and vacation rental owners statewide urge the Governor to lift these unfair restrictions.

    Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, firefighters and first responders involved in the devastating wildfires in Santa Rosa and Walton counties. While property and homes can be replaced, the utmost priority is ensuring that lives are protected. Our neighbors in the Panhandle are resilient and we know that these communities will come back stronger than ever before.

    Read below to catch up on all of the key developments, events and client actions that took place across the state this week.


    AMOUNT OF NEW COVID-19 CASES DECREASE AS STATE BEGINS TO REOPEN

    With a total of 40,596 positive COVID-19 cases in Florida to date, the percentage of new cases continues to decrease, even as testing is extensively expanded across the state. While last week saw 4,550 new cases reported, 4,518 new cases were reported this week. The percentage of individuals hospitalized or dying due to the virus held steady, with hospitalization rates of 18% and death rates of 4%. Drive-thru and walk-up sites around the state are administering a high volume of tests with Florida having tested approximately 2.5% of the state's population. These testing methods - combined with antibody and serological testing - ensure that Florida is a leader in pandemic response and recovery.

    While 64 Florida counties reopened for business this week, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties maintain a slower, methodical approach. With nearly 60% of statewide COVID-19 cases clustered in this region, county leaders look to outline reopening recommendations and present these recommendations to Governor DeSantis within the coming weeks. As previously mentioned, Palm Beach County has submitted recommendations to the Governor and will begin Phase 1 of recovery on May 11.

    As beaches, parks, stores and restaurants reopen throughout the state, a key point of focus will be on the COVID-19 positivity rate trends. If the positivity rates continue to decrease, Florida will be in a good position to begin Phase 2 of the Governor's recovery plan. It is anticipated that if trends remain the same or continue to improve, the state is on track to enter Phase 2 by the middle of May.

    To read more statistics and receive frequent updates, visit the Florida Department of Health's COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard.

    Click the links below to learn more and remember that you are #SaferAtHome.


    VACATION RENTAL GIANT VRBO URGES GOVERNOR TO OPEN VACATION RENTALS

    Vacation rentals in Florida are "short term rentals" meaning they are rental under 6 months. These include houses, duplexes and condos and are largely single-family homes. Since the beginning of Florida's near "lockdown" due to the rise of COVID-19, vacation rentals have been banned for use in the state. In essence, these type of short-term rentals are the only type of public lodging establishment with limitations on occupancy.

    Why hotels and motels were not also included in Governor DeSantis' Executive Order banning vacation rentals, is curious because unlike hotels, these properties have no common areas for guests to congregate in groups of more than 10 like lobbies and elevator waiting areas. More importantly, short term rentals typically have their own kitchens - which would be a much more controlled environment than a hotel. What is the difference between 10 people staying in a vacation home versus 10 people staying in five rooms at a hotel?

    In a post-COVID-19 environment, short term rentals are going to be incredibly important for travelers. Guests want to be safe and would more likely want to be in a private property that can be completely controlled as to who can access, eat in it, etc. Vacation rentals are already licensed by the state of Florida and have inspection and sanitation standards. There is no reason that sanitation standards for all lodging establishments can't continue to be enforced and additional CDC guidelines or standards can be provided to all vacation rental licensees to display for consumers.

    Short term rentals are vital in areas like the panhandle. Many owners of vacation homes use them as rentals for additional income and are desperate for income as they have lost jobs themselves or seen their housekeepers, managers and handymen lose their ability to make a living as well. As Florida heads towards the 2020 Memorial Day Weekend, many supporters of vacation rentals like Rep. Jayer Williamson are urging Governor DeSantis to reconsider his ban on vacation rentals and allow property owners to rent their properties on or before the May 25, 2020 holiday (to read coverage on Rep. Williamson's letter to Governor DeSantis.).

      

    GOVERNOR DESANTIS ISSUES TWO MORE EXECUTIVE ORDERS

    Governor DeSantis issued two executive orders related to COVID-19 this week. Executive Order #2020-114 extends Executive Order #2020-52 which declared a State of Emergency for the entire state due to COVID-19. Originally issued on March 9, Executive Order #2020-52 was set to expire or be extended by Governor DeSantis within 60 days, with the Governor choosing the latter. Executive Order #2020-114 will remain in effect for 60 days, unless amended by the Governor.

    Issued by the Governor on Saturday, Executive Order #2020-120 expands Phase 1 of his Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida's Recovery. Under the Executive Order, Palm Beach County will be allowed to enter Phase 1 of recovery and begin to reopen their economy on Monday, May 11. Additionally, the Executive Order authorizes barbershops, cosmetology salons and cosmetology specialty salons to resume services on Monday, May 11, as long as they adopt social distancing and safety measures outlined by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The decision to reopen salons and barbershops comes on the heels of many business leaders urging the Governor to take action on this issue.

      

    VRBO LAYS OUT NEW VACATION RENTA SANITATION GUIDELINES

    In a Friday press releaseVrbo announced new measures the vacation rental company is taking to ensure guests feel comfortable when it is time to rent a vacation destination. Upon working with government officials, travel experts and health professionals, Vrbo announced new cleaning and disinfection guidelines. These guidelines combine information from the CDC, WHO and Cristal International Standards to inform rental owners and property managers of sanitation measures they should take in between guest stays. Homeowners will be able to report if the rental has been cleaned with the disinfectant, if guests can have non-contact check ins and check outs and if the property has a 24-hour unavailability period between renters.

    Vrbo is also introducing flexible cancellation search filters that will allow guests to have access to flexible cancellation policies when booking a vacation rental. Families can use search filters to find properties that offer full refunds upon cancellation by a certain date, while Vrbo will also highlight listings that have the most relaxed cancellation policies.

    Finally, the company will give travelers suggestions for vacation rentals within driving distance by providing drivable destination locations to users within the Vrbo app. For more information on Vrbo's drivable vacation rental destinations, click here.

    Owned by the Expedia Group, Vrbo is taking a proactive approach to reopening vacation rentals in the state and the team at Liberty Partners is thankful to represent Expedia Group and their companies Vrbo and HomeAway.

      

    FLORIDA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE CONTINUES EXTENSIVE UPDATES AMID COVID-19

    The Florida Chamber of Commerce - a Liberty Partners client - has been providing key resources and updates during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the Chamber's daily membership update this week, President and CEO Mark Wilson highlighted the gradual reopening of Florida's economy and measures that must be taken to ensure Florida does not experience a second wave of the virus. Members of the Florida Chamber are also encouraged to take a brief survey that will help guide the Chamber as the economy begins to restart. The daily updates provide a list of scheduled events that keep members and local chapters aware of upcoming meetings and webinars, as well as federal recovery program updates. The Chamber reminds Floridians to follow facts, not fear during this pandemic. We are grateful for the work that is being done by the Chamber during these uncertain times and continue to assist them in any way possible.

       

    FAA DEVELOPS BEST PRACTICES FOR REOPENING ATTRACTIONS

    On the heels of Governor DeSantis announcing his Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida's Recovery, the Florida Attractions Association (FAA) has released an update for Reopening Florida's Attractions. FAA has crafted Best Practice Considerations that lay a foundation for reopening attractions in the state. With a primary focus on safety, the considerations provide an industry-wide framework that requires each attraction to adopt and adhere to CDC and OSHA guidelines, as well as social distancing guidelines that are required during the various statewide reopening phases. While opening public museums is a commendable start, FAA would like to see Florida's attractions reopened under an amended Phase 1 of the Governor's plan or under the upcoming Phase 2. 

    In addition to these efforts, FAA encourages their members to reach out to their respective state legislators to advocate for attractions across the state and urge the Governor to take action to reopen these attractions. Once the Governor decides to allow these attractions to reopen, each member of FAA will make an educated decision on how and when to reopen. With Florida's world-class attractions being a major driver of the state's tremendous tourism industry, it is imperative that attractions in the state have clear, concise operation guidelines. We are proud to represent FAA and look forward to the Governor giving industry guidance in the near future.

  • April 27, 2020 3:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Florida's focus remains on COVID-19 response and recovery. Statistically, the number of new cases in the state is increasing at a lower rate. As of Sunday morning, 30,680 total cases had been reported - an increase of 4,366 new cases. The state has seen 4,957 hospitalizations and 1,074 casualties as a result of the pandemic. The number of cases in the state are overwhelming concentrated in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, with these two counties accounting for 52% of statewide cases.

    On Monday, Governor Desantis announced the creation of the "Re-Open Florida Task Force" to make recommendations and suggestions for reopening Florida's economy after the statewide Stay-at-Home Order expires on April 30. The executive committee and working groups will submit their recommendations to the Governor's staff. The Governor's staff will then compile the recommendations into a report and allow the executive committee and working groups to review the report before submitting to the Governor for final approval. In addition to these measures, the Governor launched a Re-Open Florida Public Comment website that will allow members of the public to submit recommendations and suggestions for reopening the state.

    Uber continues to lead the way in private-sector COVID-19 response. This week, Uber launched two new programs - Uber Direct and Uber Connect. Uber Direct will allow manufacturers and retailers to ship products directly to consumers in a safe and efficient manner. Uber Connect will allow users in select cities to send packages to friends and loved ones. This feature will let packages be sent via same-day, no-contact delivery at a reasonable cost.

    Dr. John Schultz, a Master Corporal with the Florida Highway Patrol and a Liberty Partners of Tallahassee alumni, is joining the National Police Foundation in an advisory role. A decorated state trooper, Dr. Schultz currently serves as Master Corporal in the Florida Highway Patrol's Traffic Homicide Advanced Investigation and Reconstruction Team. With more than 28 years of experience, Dr. Schultz has received numerous accolades and honors, including the Florida State Trooper of the month for Troop-F in 2016 and 2017, the Sons of American Revolution Law Enforcement Commendation 2016 Award, and the Governor's Medal of Heroism Award in 2017. We are extremely proud of Dr. Schultz and are proud to call him a friend and former member of the Liberty Partners team.

    On Friday evening, Senate President Bill Galvano released a memo that provides key updates on the March General Revenue Collections Report and COVID-19. In the report, President Galvano commends the work done by healthcare professionals in the state and touts the state's response to the coronavirus. Galvano also thanks the Department of Economic Opportunity for their hard work in processing and paying out unemployment claims. On Friday afternoon, the Legislature's Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) released their final General Revenue Collection Report for March. While state sales tax collections came in $12.4M lower than previous projections, overall tax collections were $61.3M more than previous projections. EDR cautioned against being overly optimistic, noting that the report only accounts for one week of collections in March. President Galvano noted that $4.6B in federal CARES Act funding has been given to the state for funding stabilization. Galvano is hopeful that this funding - combined with Florida's strong reserves - will allow the Legislature to not meet for a Special Session.

    Read below to catch up on all the key events that took place across the state last week.

    STATE SEES DECREASE IN NEW COVID-19 CASES

    Floridians are beginning to see signs of hope, as the rate of new COVID-19 cases in the state is decreasing. While the state reported 26,314 cases last week, as of Sunday evening, the state reported 31,528. This statistic reflects the fact that many statewide leaders believe Florida has reached a plateau and will begin seeing a consisten decrease in cases per week. The state did, however, see a significant increase in the amount of Floridians hospitalized due to the virus, with the total number of hospitalizations rising to 4,957. The state also saw 300 additional Floridians succumb to the pandemic this week, bring the total number of casualties to 1,074. The majority of cases continue to be concentrated in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

    A main priority of Governor DeSantis remains increasing testing throughout the state. As the number of tests administered increases, the number of positive cases can also expect to increase. However, Florida has seen and is projected to continue to see a low percentage of the total population infected with the virus. Many citizens have taken advantage of the state's drive-thru testing sites in a convenient and simple manner. Additionally, individuals in underserved  communities have seen increased access to testing by using the state's new walk-up testing sites.

    It is our hope that by continuing testing and identifying asymptomatic carriers of the virus, the state can move toward reopening and overcoming this global health crisis in a safe and efficient manner.

    To read more statistics and receive frequent updates, visit the Florida Department of Health's COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard.

    As the pandemic spreads and impacts individuals across the nation and world, state officials and agencies have provided an extensive list of resources for Floridians during this time. Click the links below to learn more and remember that you are #SaferAtHome.

    RE-OPEN FLORIDA TASK FORCE MEETS

    Governor DeSantis and the State of Florida are taking steps to reopen Florida's economy and put Floridians back to work. On Monday, DeSantis announced the appointment of a Task Force to Re-open Florida comprised of elected officials and business leaders. The task force structure includes an Executive Committee and three working groups:

    • Executive Committee - This group includes 22 people total - 10 are elected officials from Cabinet members to legislators to mayors. The group is chaired by Lt. Governor Jeanette Nunez.
    • Industry Working Group on Agriculture, Finance, Government, Healthcare, Management and Professional Services. The group includes 30 members and is headed by Senate President-Designate Wilton Simpson.
    • Industry Working Group on Tourism, Construction, Real Estate, Recreation, Retail and Transportation headed by Dana Young, VisitFlorida CEO. The task force includes 35 people.
    • Industry Working Group on Administrative, Education, Information & Technology, Manufacturing, Utilities and Wholesale is headed by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. There are 24 people in this group.

    During the working group meetings, officials and industry leaders presented recommendations and outlined strategies for reopening the state. These comprehensive discussions allowed the working groups to discuss best practices and share ideas in a thoughtful manner. 

    The working groups met from Tuesday until Friday and discussed measures that could be taken in their respective industries to get Florida back on its feet. Meeting a total of nine times, the groups heard from a variety of leaders and had robust discussions on the most effective ways to open up the state in a safe manner. Leaders of the working groups provided summaries of their meetings and shared recommendations during the executive committee meetings each afternoon.

    On Monday, the Governor held his first conference call with the Re-Open Florida Task Force Executive Committee. A series of presenters spoke to the committee on the steps that Florida is taking to combat COVID-19 and what Phase 2 will look like moving forward. 

    DeSantis began the call by touting measures that the administration has taken for elderly and vulnerable populations in long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities and hospitals. He also announced that the state will ramp up coronavirus testing efforts and is exploring options for receiving test results quickly. The Governor noted that it is important for businesses to have guidelines to follow once they reopen and that instilling consumer confidence will be key once they reopen.

    Florida Chamber of Commerce President Mark Wilson and Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish provided an overview of Florida's economy to task force members. During their presentation, Wilson noted that Florida has the 17th largest economy in the world and that people from around the world are watching Florida's response to the pandemic. He also spoke to the importance of the tourism industry, which employs 11% of the state's workforce and saw 127 million tourists visit the state last year. Dr. Parrish spoke to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic and shared that the risk of unemployment varies depending on different job sectors. According to Dr. Parrish, the healthcare industry is likely to see small unemployment numbers, while the manufacturing industry can expect to see moderate rates of unemployment. He concluded his presentation by noting that rural counties will have the most difficulty recovering economically from the pandemic.

    Following Dr. Parrish's presentation, Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz summarized the division's efforts in response to COVID-19. Director Moskowitz applauded private businesses that have donated equipment and supplies and assured the task force that the agency is taking all necessary steps to fill in the supply gaps. Moskowitz concluded by noting the increase in testing across the state and recommending that the task force look at data-driven approaches.

    Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees then gave the task force an overview of COVID-19 cases and health information. Dr. Rivkees warned of the symptoms of the virus and emphasized that younger individuals can be asymptomatic carriers. Rivkees also urged the task force to analyze the data and highlighted the state's response.

    Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) Secretary Mary Mayhew concluded the meeting by highlighting the strong partnerships between state and local healthcare officials. Mayhew noted that has increased data reporting on hospital capacity, rate of hospitalizations and hospitals' PPE needs.

    The executive committee met five times last week and will play a critical role in helping the Governor set the framework for re-opening Florida's economy. More information about the Governor's Task Force to Re-open Florida can be found here.

    Members of the public can submit their comments and suggestions to the Task Force through the Public Submission Portal.

    SENATE PRESIDENT GALVANO RELEASES REVENUE REPORT AND SENATE UPDATE

    On Friday evening, Senate President Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton) released a memo that consisted of the March General Revenue Collections Report and COVID-19 updates. In the memo, President Galvano notes that Florida has tested more than 300,000 individuals - putting Florida in the top three for testing nationwide. He also highlights the fact that the state has contracted with two new testing laboratories that will allow 18,000 more test results to be processed each day. Galvano also noted that hospital capacity has actually increased during the pandemic and that Florida has seen a steady rate of new cases and hospitalizations for the past two weeks.

    Senator Galvano applauded the hard work that is being done by the Department of Economic Opportunity in processing and paying unemployment claims in wake of the pandemic. From March 15 to April 23, the department has paid 153,788 unemployment claims, totaling $157,507,046.

    On Friday afternoon, EDR released their final General Revenue Collection Report for March. State sales tax collections were $12.4M lower than the Revenue Estimating Conference's previous projections. EDR cautioned that this slight decrease mainly represents the month of February and only accounts for one week of the impacts felt by COVID-19. EDR explained that the relatively positive outlook of this data is likely influenced by the fact that consumers began buying goods in preparation of the virus. While there was a modest loss in sales tax revenue, overall tax collections were $61.3M more than previous projections and $202.4M more than prior year-to-date estimates.

    On Thursday, Galvano received a letter that was sent to Governor DeSantis on behalf of the Senate Democratic Caucus. In the letter, the caucus expresses concerns regarding Florida's reemployment system, COVID-19 testing and available food resources. The letter also suggests that legislative action be taken to address the impact the coronavirus will have on the upcoming primary and general elections. To see the steps that President Galvano and Florida's Supervisors of Elections are taking to address these election concerns, click here.

    The Senate President also refers to Florida's Division of Bond Finance's Voluntary Disclosure Regarding Impacts of COVID-19. This document is resourceful and affirms timelines and benchmarks that the Senate's professional staff has advised.

    The memo concludes by noting that as of Friday, $4.6B in federal CARES Act funding has been deposited into Florida's state treasury for the purpose of state funding stabilization. This funding will assist the state in funding expenses through March and can possibly reduce the need for the Legislature to return for a Special Session in the wake of the pandemic.


  • March 19, 2020 3:01 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Each annual legislative session is defined by significant events that set the overall tone and priorities for the Florida Legislature. While the last two sessions were hyper-focused on an appropriate legislative response to the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and the devastation of Hurricane Michael to the Panhandle, the 2020 session proceeded without prominent theme until the very last week of the scheduled 60-day annual session when the threat of the COVID-19 or coronavirus began to paralyze the nation and impact Florida’s economy.

    During one of the final floor sessions, the House chose to temporarily interrupt their proceedings to announce that several Representatives may have been recently exposed to the virus while attending a conference. The remainder of the session was focused on measures that would help the state prepare for the spread of the virus and the subsequent impact on the state. In fact, the Legislature decided to extend the regular session from March 13, 2020 to March 20, 2020 to finalize the FY 2020-2021 state budget. All regular bills died after midnight on March 13 and members were directed to head home to their districts until a final vote on the budget scheduled for Thursday, March 19, 2020. Given the daily developments on COVID-19 and the certain impact on Florida’s economy, the Legislature has signaled they will likely return to Tallahassee this summer to adjust both the FY 2019-2020 and FY 2020-2021 budgets.

    Although most of the 3,578 bills filed this year died, of the 207 bill that did pass both chambers, there were several victories for the House Speaker, Senate President and Governor. House Speaker Jose Oliva was able to pass meaningful health care reforms including a bill to allow nurse practitioners to independently operate primary care practices, including family medicine, general pediatrics and general internal medicine without an attending doctor’s supervision. Senate President Bill Galvano quietly oversaw the Florida Senate achieve another productive session but without his longtime efforts on reaching a renewal of the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Compact with the state and the $350 million in annual payments that come with it. Meanwhile, Governor Ron DeSantis was successful in pushing for a bill requiring employers to check the immigration status of new hires as well as a major teacher pay raise.

    Legislators were able to agree on a state spending plan two days after the scheduled March 13 adjournment. The General Appropriations Act (GAA), HB 5001 was placed on legislators’ desks on Sunday, March 15 at 7:07 pm which began the Constitutionally required 72-hour “cooling off” period before the budget could be voted on. After 66 days in the Capitol, legislators passed a $93.2 billion budget for FY 2020-2021 on Thursday, March 19, 2020 (House vote 104-0, Senate vote 32-0). The GAA now heads to the Governor’s desk for final action, as he possesses line item veto authority. It is anticipated that the Governor will have a heavy veto pen in the wake of the economic downturn on the country’s horizon.


    KEY ISSUES THAT PASSED

    The Legislature succeeded in passing several bold and meaningful legislation this session that included some of the issues below:

    Tax Package, Back to School Tax Holiday - The Legislature passed a tax package that includes several revisions including another back to school tax holiday and hurricane supplies tax holiday.

    Scope of Practice Expansion - The bill allows for qualified nurse practitioners to provide primary care without physician supervision. Pharmacists will be able to help patients manage their chronic conditions in collaboration with a physician and may test and treat the flu.

    Extension of Visit Florida Sunset – Legislation was passed this year to extend the upcoming sunset for the tourism marketing agency to 2023. Additionally, the Florida Legislature agreed to maintain funding for the agency at $50 million. The future of Visit Florida will be critical in the face of the economic downturn anticipated ahead.

    School Panic Alarms - The bill would require public and charter schools in the state to implement a mobile panic alarm system that would connect emergency officials with firstresponders in the event of a school emergency. The Florida Legislature agreed to $8 million in funding through the Florida Department of Education.

    Child Welfare Reform – One of the priorities of First Lady Casey DeSantis was to bring accountability to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) by moving toward a “prevention” model and bringing some of the services back to the department that have been outsourced. Legislation passed to move toward statewide standards for both DCF and outsourced programs to Sheriffs and other entities.

    Affordable Housing – For the first time since 2007, the Florida House and Senate have agreed to fully fund the state’s affordable housing trust fund, known as the Sadowski fund. Both chambers agreed to dedicate the full $370 million to the fund.

    Water Quality – The comprehensive legislation is designed to improve water data collection and make investments into inspecting septic systems and replacing them with sewer infrastructure.

    Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations – The legislation would make several enhancements to the state’s infrastructure system, including a framework for increasing the amount of EV charging stations on Florida’s roadways and includes a cooperative report from the Florida

    Department of Transportation – in consultation with the Florida Public Service Commission, Florida Office of Energy and appropriate public or private entities – to have a report to the Legislature and Governor by July 1, 2021.

    Private School Voucher Expansion – The bill makes several revisions and expansions to the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship and Family Empowerment Scholarship. Under both programs, scholarship eligibility would be expanded, allowing more students to attend schools that meet their individual educational needs.

    Teacher Salary Increase – The bill requires local school districts to use money set aside by the Legislature to raise minimum teacher salaries to $47,500 and provide raises for teachers who are already above that minimum. The increase would place Florida behind only New Jersey among state base salaries.

    Employment Verification – The bill would require public employers, contractors and subcontractors to use the E-Verify employment verification system by January 1, 2021 to ensure that all employees are legal citizens. Private employers would also be required to use E-Verify or information documented in an employee’s I-9 form to determine the legal status of its employees.

    College Athletes – The bill would allow student-athletes to earn outside compensation for their likeness, image or persona and to get professional representation through athletic agents.

    State Employee Pay Raises – The House and Senate agreed to a 3-percent across-the-board pay raise for all state employees.

    Parental Consent for Abortion – The bill would require pregnant minors and physicians to get consent from a parent or legal guardian before receiving or performing an abortion.


    KEY ISSUES THAT FAILED

    Several other high-profile issues that did not end up passing during the 2020 Legislative Session include:

    Remote Sales Tax Collection/Wayfair – The bill would have authorized the state to impose sales tax collection responsibilities on remote sellers lacking a physical presence in Florida and streamline administration of current sales tax laws by extending sales tax collection responsibilities to marketplace providers increasing General Revenue Fund receipts by $479 million annually.

    Vacation Rentals – The bill would have pre-empted to the state the authority to license and inspect short-term rentals and only allow local governments the ability to enact regulations that apply to all homes equally, whether short-term or not. Any ordinances that were passed before 2011 would not have been impacted.

    Gambling/Sports Betting – There were discussions on the state negotiating a deal with the Seminole Tribe to restore revenue sharing through the gaming compact as well as the potential for sports betting. However, these negotiations never materialized. There was a bill introduced to create a “buyback” of facility permits but it was not heard in committee.

    Restoration of Voting Rights – Efforts to clarify a controversial measure passed last session requiring convicted felons to pay restitution before regaining their voting rights were unsuccessful.

    Criminal Justice Reform – There were several measures relating to criminal justice reform passed by the Senate, including mandatory-minimum criminal sentencing and gain time for inmates, however, the measures failed in the House.

    School Safety – The House and Senate failed to agree to legislation to adopt recommendations from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Safety Commission’s 2019 report citing failures in implementing school safety improvements.

    Office of Energy Move – The House proposed legislation to move the Office of Energy from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services under Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried to the Department of Environmental Protection under Governor Ron DeSantis. However, the Senate did not support the measure.

    Constitutional Revision Commission Repeal – The Commission that meets every 20 years to propose constitutional amendments, which is one of only five ways to be added to the Florida Constitution, would have been repealed by a bill that passed the House. However, the same measure never received a hearing in the Senate.

    Transportation Package – The annual omnibus transportation package would make multiple changes including authorizing portable radar speed display units to display flashing red and blue lights under certain circumstances, staging areas along the Florida Turnpike System and require certain vessels to be removed from marinas.


    2020 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES FOR
    FLORIDA ATTRACTIONS ASSOCIATION

    VISIT FLORIDA Sunset Extension and Funding:

    VISIT FLORIDA had an incredible session, as the tourism-marketing agency was fully-funded at $50 million in the FY 2020-21 budget proposed by the Legislature. While the House and Senate had been at odds about funding the agency, during the beginning of the budget conference process on March 7, House Appropriations Chairman Representative Travis Cummings (ROrange Park) and Senate Appropriations Chairman Senator Rob Bradley announced that the two chambers had reached an agreement to fully-fund VISIT FLORIDA. The Legislature’s decision of fund the agency at $50 million aligns with Governor DeSantis’ proposed funding levels. Liberty Partners will fight to ensure that this line-item remains in the budget and is signed into law by the Governor.

    The ninth week of the 2020 Legislative Session held surprising news, as the House passed legislation that will extend VISIT FLORIDA’s scheduled sunset from 2020 until 2023. While SB 362 by Senator Ed Hooper (R-Palm Harbor) passed through each Senate committee unanimously and had passed the Senate floor unanimously by February 13, the House companion did not receive a single committee or floor hearing leading up to week nine. March 11 signaled a turn of events however, as the Senate bill by Senator Hooper was substituted for HB 213 by Representative Mel Ponder (R-Fort Walton Beach) and passed the House floor by an overwhelming favorable vote of 114-2. As this legislation heads to DeSantis’ desk for final approval, we will work to ensure that the bill is not vetoed.

    Liberty Partners recognizes the impact that VISIT FLORIDA has on FAA and its members. We are proud to have spoken in support of SB 362 during each committee stop and see this legislation clear both chambers. We were also happy to work with FAA to create a call-to-action so that FAA members could email their legislators and urge them to reauthorize VISIT FLORIDA and fully-fund the agency. Additionally, we were able to work with FAA to craft a welcome letter outlining FAA’s priorities and distribute this welcome letter to all legislators during the beginning of the 2020 Legislative Session.


    Amusement Ride Inspections:

    Throughout the legislative session, we worked diligently with FAA and the Florida Departmentof Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) on legislation that would revise and modernize temporary amusement ride regulations and inspections across the state. SB 1228 by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation), which was substituted for HB 1275 by Representative Sharon Pritchett (D-Miami Gardens) makes several revisions to the inspection process, most notably the frequency that certain rides must be inspected. Temporary amusement rides such as carnival or fair rides must be inspected each time the ride is set up at a different location and must receive a certificate of inspection from FDACS. Permanent amusement rides, however, must only be inspected twice a year by an accredited inspection organization.

    With FAA’s members operating permanent facilities, Liberty Partners offered amendment language and worked with FDACS, Senator Book and Representative Pritchett to ensure that FAA members would be exempt from the frequent, burdensome inspections that temporary amusement ride facilities are subject to.

    The House bill moved swiftly through the legislative process, unanimously passing all committee references by February 13 and unanimously passing the House floor on February 26. Liberty Partners testified before each committee on behalf of FAA in support of the legislation and shared FAA’s position with committee members. The Senate companion passed the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously on February 18, with Liberty Partners speaking in support of the bill on behalf of FAA.

    During the final week of session, the Senate bill was substituted for the House bill and unanimously passed the Senate floor on March 13. For more than a month, we monitored this legislation and worked with Senator Book and Representative Pritchett to ensure that the bill remained favorable to FAA and its members. We will now shift our attention and efforts to making sure that the Governor signs this legislation into law.


    Verification of Employment Eligibility:

    Liberty Partners monitored controversial legislation this legislative session that could have a potentially significant impact on public and private employers in the state. The verification of employment eligibility has been a top-priority of Governor DeSantis, as he has pushed for employers across the state to use E-Verify or a similar system to ensure that employees are legal residents.

    SB 664 by Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon) will require private and public employers, as well as contractors and subcontractors to use technology to ensure that all employees are legal. Beginning January 1, 2021, a public employer, contractor or subcontractor must register with and implement the E-Verify system to verify the work status of all employees. A contract will not be able to be entered into if any of the parties have failed to register with E-Verify. A private employer would have the ability to use either E-Verify or an employee's I9 form to confirm the employment eligibility and would be required to keep the employee's documentation on file for three years after the employee begins working. Beginning January 1, 2021, a private employer must verify a new worker's status before the employee can begin working. If an employee has worked with the business since before January 1, 2021, the worker's status would not be required to be verified but the employee's citizenship status would have to be verified before the employee could receive a contract extension or renewal. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Attorney General, statewide prosecutor and state attorney will have the authority to enforce these requirements by requesting documentation from the employers at any given time. If a private employer fails to comply with these requirements, the employer must provide FDLE with an affidavit that states they will begin compliance, terminate the unauthorized worker's employment and not knowingly hire an authorized worker. If the business fails to send an affidavit to FDLE within 30 days, the private employer's license will be suspended by the appropriate licensing agency until the employer complies with the affidavit submission. If a private employer commits three violations within three years, the business license would be permanently suspended.

    The Senate bill passed all committees of reference by a narrow margin and passed the Senate floor by a vote of 23-17. The House companion - HB 1265 by Representative Cord Byrd (R-Jacksonville Beach) passed both of its committee references but was then “laid on the table” and replaced by SB 664.

    We will continue to monitor this bill as it is sent to Governor DeSantis for final approval. We understand that this legislation could have impacts on FAA members and will keep FAA abreast on the implementation of the legislation.

    Preservation of Tourist Development Tax:

    We are happy to announce that tourist development taxes (TDT) will stay limited to certain purposes. When the House’s proposed tax package - HB 7097 by Representative Bryan Avila (R-Hialeah) was filed on February 20, FAA became concerned about a provision contained in the bill that would allow counties to use TDT dollars to fund water quality improvement projects, as well as publicly-owned parks and trails. The expanded usage of these dollars would have also applied to the Convention Development Tax levied in Duval, Miami-Dade and Volusia counties as well as the Local Option Food and Beverage Tax levied within parts of Miami-Dade County.

    During each committee stop, Liberty Partners spoke in opposition to this provision on behalf of FAA and urged House members to not further erode TDT dollars by expanding usage. Thankfully, once the tax package made its way to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Anitere Flores (R-Miami) filed an amendment that removed the provisions within the bill that would have expanded the use of TDT dollars. As the bill continued to make its way through the legislative process, the Senate held steady on the removal of these provisions, and as a result, these harmful provisions were removed from HB 7097. HB 7097 passed the full Legislature and will go to the Governor for his signature.


    OTHER BILLS OF INTEREST

    There were more than 3,500 bills filed for the 2020 Legislative Session, however only 207 passed both chambers and will become law with approval by the Governor. Below is a list of priority bills that we monitored on behalf of FAA and the status of the bills:

    SB 1084 by Senator Manny Diaz and Representative Sam Killebrew – Emotional Support Animals
    Defines the terms “emotional support animal” and “housing provider”; prohibits discrimination in housing provided to a person with a disability or a disability-related need for an emotional support animal; prohibits a health care practitioner from providing information regarding a person’s need for an emotional support animal without having personal knowledge of that person’s need for the animal; prohibits the falsification of information or other fraudulent misrepresentation regarding the use of an emotional support animal, etc. The bill passed both chambers and moves to Governor DeSantis for final action.

    SB 680 by Senator Travis Hutson and Representative Kristen Jacobs – Shark Fins
    Cites this act as the “Kristin Jacobs Ocean Conservation Act”; prohibits the import, export, and sale of shark fins in this state; provides exceptions; requires the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to evaluate the potential economic impacts to the commercial shark fishing industry in this state; requires the commission to review the potential impact on shark populations; requires a report to the Legislature by a specified date; authorizes the Legislature to impose a ban on the domestic production of shark fins based upon the findings of the report, etc. The bill passed both chambers and heads to the Governor for his signature before becoming law.

    HB 757 by Representative Holly Raschein and Senator Darryl Rouson – Cultural Affairs
    Renames Division of Cultural Affairs as Division of Arts & Culture; provides that Secretary of State shall be known as "Florida's Chief Arts & Culture Officer". The bill died in the Senate Government Oversight and Accountability Committee.

    HB 1011 by Representative Jason Fischer, SB 1128 by Senator Manny Diaz – Vacation Rentals
    Preempts the regulation of vacation rentals to the state; prohibits a local law, ordinance, or regulation from allowing or requiring inspections or licensing of public lodging establishments, including vacation rentals, or public food service establishments; requires licenses issued by the Division of Hotels and Restaurants of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to be displayed conspicuously to the public inside the licensed establishment, etc. The House bill died on the House floor and the Senate bill died in the Senate Rules Committee.

    SB 334 by Senator Linda Stewart – Tourist Development Tax
    Authorizes counties imposing the tax to use the tax revenues to promote or incentivize film or television productions in this state; requires such counties to require certain productions to include a specified statement in the production’s credits, etc. The bill died in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

    SB 772 by Senator Travis Hutson, HB 647 by Representative Brad Drake – Department of Health’s Regulation of Recreational Activities
    Provides a timeframe for certain owners or transferees to apply for a permit; preempts to the Department of Health the regulatory authority for permitting standards; provides that evidence of a certain length of stay in a guest register creates a rebuttable presumption that a guest is transient; specifies when certain property becomes abandoned; authorizes a park operator to refuse certain individuals access to the premises and to eject transient guests or visitors based on specified conduct; provides that certain surf pools are exempt from supervision under certain circumstances, etc. The Senate bill died in the Senate Rules Committee and the House bill died on the House floor.

    HB 991 by Representative Will Robinson and Senator Keith Perry – Lottery Games
    Prohibits electronic device from being used to play any lottery game; prohibits DOL from authorizing operation of specified lottery game; requires DOL to include specified warning in all advertisements & promotions of lottery games; requires contracts between DOL & vendor to require vendor to print specified warning on all lottery tickets. The bill died in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee.

    LOOKING AHEAD

    Pursuant to Article III, section 8, of the Florida Constitution, "Every bill passed by the Legislature shall be presented to the governor for approval and shall become a law if the governor approves and signs it or fails to veto it within seven consecutive days after presentation. If during that period or on the seventh day the legislature adjourns sine die or takes a recess of more than thirty days, the governor shall have fifteen consecutive days from the date of presentation to act on the bill."

    Therefore, Governor Ron DeSantis will now have 15 days to take action on the state spending plan along with more than 200 bills that will be sent his way. He also possesses line item veto authority which may be used with the General Appropriations Act (GAA). After the Governor has completed his line item vetoes, he will then sign the GAA into law, establishing the statewide budget for the next fiscal year beginning on July 1. A two-thirds majority vote of both the Senate and House is required to overturn any of the Governor’s line item vetoes.

    Following the recent cancelation of several major events and a surge of Floridians testing positive for COVID-19, the Legislature ensured the FY 2020-2021 GAA contained a $300 million contingency plan to address the economic impact the crisis will have on the state budget. However, while state policymakers are unable to accurately forecast the ultimate economic impact the virus will have before the budget has to be in place on June 30, it is anticipated that a special session may become necessary when new revenue outlook numbers by the Office of Economic & Demographic Research (EDR) become available in the coming weeks.

    Since the Presidential Preference Primary Election was held on Tuesday, March 17, the state will now begin getting ready for the Primary Election on Tuesday, August 18 and the General Election scheduled for Tuesday, November 3. We will be watching to see what the impact of this year’s elections will have on the makeup of the Florida Legislature. Currently, the Florida Senate is split 23-17 between Republicans and Democrats while the Florida House is split 73-47.

    Once again, Liberty Partners considers it a great privilege to serve as your advocates in Tallahassee. Please do not hesitate to reach out to any member of our team for additional information.


  • March 16, 2020 3:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    After more than a week of negotiations, the Legislature's proposed FY 2020-21 budget was published on Sunday night at 7:07 p.m. A 72-hour "cooling off" period will now take place, during which the budget cannot be considered or discussed by legislators. On Thursday, March 19, the Legislature will convene at 12:00 p.m. to vote on the final budget. Historic Sine Die traditions - such as "dropping the hankie" on the final day of session - will not take place, as officials have instituted strict safety guidelines for the final day due to the coronavirus outbreak. Additional safety precautions include closing the House and Senate galleries to the public during Thursday's final vote. Legislators have been encouraged to travel alone by car to Tallahassee to vote on the budget and to not travel if displaying any symptoms of the virus. Upon passage, the budget will be submitted to the Governor - who wields line-item veto power - for final approval before being signed into law.

    While Friday marked the 60th day of the 2020 Legislative Session, legislators were forced to extend session for another week due to unforeseen developments. Lawmakers and state leaders were faced with much adversity and many decisions this week, as the outbreak of COVID-19 dominated state and national headlines. 

    On Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order Number 20-52, which declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus. In an attempt to contain the virus, the Governor suspended official travel for state employees for a minimum of 30 days and ordered the Director of the Division of Emergency Management to develop a comprehensive plan to deal with the pandemic. For more information from the Florida Department of Health on COVID-19, click here.

    With legislators already pressed to complete session by March 13, the chambers passed a concurrent resolution that will extend session until Friday, March 20 at 11:59 p.m. so that the Legislature can pass a Constitutionally-required balanced budget and other related legislation.

    In an unforeseen move, the House passed legislation this week that would extend VISIT FLORIDA’s scheduled sunset from 2020 until 2023. Despite not receiving a hearing in a single House committee during session, SB 362 by Senator Ed Hooper (R-Palm Harbor) was

    substituted for HB 213 by Representative Mel Ponder (R-Fort Walton Beach) and passed the House floor by an overwhelming vote of 114-2 on Wednesday. The legislation heads to the Governor’s desk for final approval. This tremendous development signals great news for the tourism industry in the state and will provide stability to VISIT FLORIDA. We are proud to have worked on this legislation on behalf of FAA and look forward to the agency’s extension.

    On Friday night, the Legislature passed their proposed FY 2020-21 tax package - HB 7097 by Representative Bryan Avila (R-Hialeah). We are pleased to report that Senator Anitere Flores (R-Miami) proposed and passed an amendment to the tax package that removed provisions from the bill that would have allowed counties to use TDT dollars to fund water quality improvements and enhancements. We understand how important these funds are to FAA members and that the preservation of the intended uses of these funds are crucial and must be protected at all costs. Overall, the tax package contains many favorable provisions that will keep more money in Floridians' pockets, including a three-day Back-to-School Tax Holiday and seven-day Disaster Preparedness Tax Holiday. In the education sector, future School Capital Outlay sale surtaxes must be proportionately shared with charter schools. Furthermore, in an attempt to continue bringing tourists to our state, the aviation fuel tax would be reduced from $2.85 per gallon to $1.89 per gallon in the tax package.

    In another win for FAA members, legislation that would modernize amusement ride inspections and regulations in the state passed the Senate floor this week and heads to the Governor for final approval. SB 1228 by Senator Lauren Book (R-Plantation) would make several revisions to the inspection process, including the frequency of which certain rides must be inspected. Under the bill, temporary amusement rides such as rides at a carnival or fair would be inspected each time the ride is set up at a different location and must receive a certificate of inspection from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS). Permanent amusement rides, however, would be exempt from the DACS inspection as long as the rides are inspected twice a year by an accredited inspection organization. The bill would also increase operational accountability for the facilities and managers. Ride managers would be considered the responsible party in ensuring compliance with state standards and the material, testing, electricity and fire standards would be aligned with federal standards. Fines would also serve as a deterrent under the bill, as the maximum fine for an administrative violation would increase from $2,500 to $10,000. DACS would also have the authority to impose fines of $10,000 or more for violations resulting in serious energy or death.

    Additionally, after much debate and consideration by members, legislation that seeks to verify the employment eligibility of Florida workers has passed both chambers and heads to Governor DeSantis' desk to be signed into law. A high priority of the Governor, SB 664 by Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon) would require private and public employers, as well as contractors and subcontractors to use technology to ensure that all employees are legal. Beginning January 1, 2021, a public employer, contractor or subcontractor must register with and implement the E-

    Verify system to verify the work status of all employees. If one of the parties has not registered

    with E-Verify and has not begun using the system, a contract cannot be entered into. In relation to private employment, beginning on January 1, 2021, a private employer must verify a new worker's status before the employee can begin working. If an employee has worked with the business since before January 1, 2021, the worker's status would not be required to be verified. However, the employee's citizenship status would have to be verified before the employee could receive a contract extension or renewal. While public employers would be limited to using only E-Verify, a private employer would have the ability to use either E-Verify or the information

    contained on an employee's I9 form to confirm the employment eligibility. Additionally, the private employer would be required to keep the employee's documentation on file for three years after the employee begins working. In order to enforce these provisions, the Department of Law Enforcement, Attorney General, statewide prosecutor and state attorney may request the employee verification documentation from employers at any time. If a private employer does not comply with these provisions, the employer must provide the Department of Law Enforcement with an affidavit that states they will begin compliance, terminate the unauthorized worker's employment and not knowingly hire an authorized worker. Failure to send an affidavit to FDLE within 30 days would allow the private employer's license to be suspended by appropriate licensing agency until the employer complies with the affidavit submission. If a private employer commits three violations within three years, the business license would be permanently suspended. As previously mentioned, the implementation of this legislation has been a high priority for the Governor since he ran for Governor in 2018 and could have several effects on the business climate in the state.


    Following is a quick summary of bills that passed or failed during the 2020 Legislative Session and other items of interest to the Florida Attractions Association (FAA):


    Amusement Rides

    HB 1275 by Representative Sharon Pritchett (D-Miami Gardens) was substituted for SB 1228 by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation), unanimously passed the Senate floor on Friday and awaits final approval by Governor DeSantis. The bill would require amusement ride managers to meet certain requirements and revise standards for rules adopted by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services relating to amusement rides. The bill would also remove the exemption from safety standards for certain museums and institutions and revise inspection standards for amusement rides.

    VISIT FLORIDA

    SB 362 by Senator Ed Hooper (R-Palm Harbor) passed the House floor by a vote of 114-2 on Wednesday with an amendment by Representative Mel Ponder (R-Fort Walton Beach) that would extend the scheduled sunset of VISIT FLORIDA until 2023 instead of 2028. The bill was then sent back to the Senate and passed unanimously. This critical tourism legislation now awaits the Governor’s final action.

    Tourism Development Tax

    SB 334 by Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) would authorize counties imposing a tourism development tax to use the tax revenues to promote or incentivize film or television productions

    in the state. The bill would also require a specified statement to be included in the production’s credits. The bill died in its final committee hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

    Lottery Games

    HB 991 by Representative Will Robinson (R-Bradenton) would prohibit an electronic device from being used to play any lottery game and would prohibit the Department of Lottery (DOL) from authorizing operation of a specified lottery game. The bill would require DOL to include a specified warning in all advertisements & promotions of lottery games and require contracts

    between DOL & a vendor to require that the vendor print a specified warning on all lottery tickets. Under the bill, certain funds in the Operating Trust Fund would be used for a specified annual payment for services relating to prevention of compulsive & addictive gambling. The bill has passed the House floor and is awaiting consideration in the Senate. The Senate companion - SB 1318 by Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) – died in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee.

    Sports Franchises and Facilities

    HB 1369 by Representative Cary Pigman (R-Sebring) would delete provisions authorizing counties to impose specified taxes to pay debt service on bonds related to sports facilities and prohibit a county from leasing specified professional sports franchise facilities. It would prohibit the lease of public lands for purposes related to sports franchises & their facilities and require the lease of a facility on public lands to be at fair market value. The bill would require a sports franchise to repay specified debt incurred by local government related to construction of facilities. The bill passed all committees but died on the House floor.

    Vacation Rentals

    HB 1011 by Representative Jason Fischer (R-Jacksonville) would preempt regulation of vacation rentals to the state and prohibit local law, ordinance or regulation from allowing or requiring inspections or licensing of vacation rentals. The bill would require licenses issued by the Division of Hotels and Restaurants of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to be displayed conspicuously inside a licensed establishment and preempt regulation of advertising platforms for vacation rentals to the state. It would also provide requirements for advertising platforms. The bill was temporarily postponed on the House floor and never reconsidered. The Senate companion - SB 1128 – by Senator Manny Diaz (R- Hialeah Gardens) died in the Senate Rules Committee.

    Entertainment Industry

    SB 530 by Senator Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) would create the Film, Television, and Digital Media Targeted Rebate Program within the Department of Economic Opportunity. Projects that are eligible for the rebate program must provide the highest return on investment and economic benefit to the state. The bill died in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. The House companion - HB 497 - by Representative James Buchanan (R-North Port) died in the House Workforce Development and Tourism Subcommittee.

    Declawing of Cats

    SB 48 by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) makes it illegal for any person to declaw a cat in Florida. Violations can result in a $1,000 fine and veterinarians found to be declawing the cat are subject to discipline by the Board of Veterinary Medicine. An exemption is made in the instance that a cat is declawed for therapeutic purposes. The bill died in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee.

    Regulation of Recreational Activities

    HB 647 by Representative Brad Drake (R-Defuniak Springs) would revise provisions relating to recreational vehicle parks, including permit application, preemption, rebuilding of park, abandoned property, ejection of certain persons and removal of property from park and immunity from liability. The bill passed all committees but died on the House floor. The Senate companion - SB 772– by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) died in its final committee hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.

    Cultural Affairs

    HB 757 by Representative Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) would rename the Division of Cultural Affairs as Division of Arts & Culture and provide that the Secretary of State shall be known as "Florida's Chief Arts & Culture Officer". The bill would repeal provisions relating to Cultural Endowment Program short title, legislative intent, definitions and rulemaking. The bill passed the House floor but was never considered in the Senate. The Senate companion - SB 1632 – by Senator Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) died in the Senate Rules Committee.

    Emergency Sheltering of Persons with Pets

    HB 705 by Representative Sam Killebrew (R-Winter Haven) would require Department of Education to assist Division of Emergency Management in determining strategies regarding evacuation of persons with pets and would require certain counties to designate shelter that can accommodate persons with pets. It would also specify requirements for such shelters. The bill unanimously passed the House floor - was substituted for the Senate companion - SB 752 – by Senator Aaron Bean (R-Jacksonville) and unanimously passed the Senate floor. The legislation now awaits the Governor’s final action.

    Beverage Law

    SB 482 by Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) would repeal provisions relating to limits to the size of wine and cider containers. Provisions that allow patrons of a restaurant to take partially consumed bottles of wine off the restaurant’s premises would also be changed under

    this law. The bill died in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee, while the House companion - HB 583 - by Representative Anthony Sabatini (R-Clermont) died in the House Commerce Committee.

    Captive-bred Animal Culture

    SB 1176 by Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) would create the "Florida Animal Policy Act". The bill would provide duties of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and require the department to submit a list of specified research and development projects with its annual legislative budget request to the Governor and the Legislature. It would require a captive-

    bred producer to apply to the department for a certificate of registration and create the Captive-bred Animal Culture Advisory Council adjunct to the department. The bill died in the Senate Agriculture Committee. The House companion - HB 933 - by Representative Clovis Watson (D-Gainesville) died in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee.

    Nonservice Animals

    HB 243 by Representative Bruce Antone (D-Orlando) would prohibit nonservice animals from entering certain food service establishments or places of business. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation would also create and update a website for filed complaints. The bill died in the House Business and Professions Subcommittee. The Senate companion - SB 1814 – by Senator Bobby Powell (D-West Palm Beach) died in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.

    Emotional Support Animals

    HB 209 by Representative Sam Killebrew (R-Winter Haven) would prohibit discrimination in a rental dwelling to a person with a disability or disability-related needs who has an emotional support animal. It would also prohibit a landlord from requiring such person to pay extra compensation and authorize the landlord to request certain written documentation. The Senate companion - SB 1084 – by Senator Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah Gardens) was substituted for the House bill and unanimously passed the House floor on Tuesday, March 10. The bill now heads to the desk of Governor DeSantis for final action.

    Shark Fins

    SB 680 by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) would prohibit the importation, exportation, and sale of shark fins. The bill was substituted for the House companion - HB 401 - by Representative Kristin Jacobs (D-Coconut Creek) and passed the House floor by a vote of 119-1 on Monday, March 9 and the Senate floor unanimously on Thursday, March 12. The bill heads to the Governor for his signature before becoming law.

    Individual Wine Containers

    HB 6037 by Representative Chip LaMarca (R-Lighthouse Point) would repeal provisions relating to a limitation of size of individual wine containers. The bill passed the House chamber but the Senate companion - SB 138- by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) died in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee.

    Public Records/Trade Secrets

    HB 799 by Representative Tommy Gregory (R-Bradenton) would provide a public record exemption for trade secrets held by an agency, provide notice requirements and exceptions and provide that the agency employee is not liable for release of records in compliance with act. The bill would also provide applicability and future legislative review & repeal. The bill unanimously passed the House floor but died in the Senate.

    Verification of Employment Eligibility

    HB 1265 by Representative Cord Byrd (R-Jacksonville Beach) would require public employers, contractors, & subcontractors to use the E-Verify system for specified purposes and prohibits

    such entities from entering into a contract unless each party uses the E-Verify system. The bill would authorize termination of the contract and require private employers to verify employment eligibility of newly hired employees. The Senate companion - SB 664 – by Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon) was substituted for the House bill and passed the Senate floor by a vote of 23-17 on

    Thursday, March 12 and passed the House floor by a vote of 73-45 on Wednesday, March 11. The bill now moves to the Governor for final action.

    Monuments

    HB 981 by Representative Tyler Sirois (R-Merritt Island) would establish the Florida Space Exploration Monument and provide for administration of the monument. The design shall be chosen by committee from entries submitted by the public. DMS would be directed to develop specified plan for placement & cost of the monument & submit the plan to the Governor & Legislature by a specified date. The bill died in the House Oversight, Transparency and Public Management Subcommittee. The Senate companion - SB 1260 – by Senator Ben Albritton (R-Bartow) died in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

    Fish and Wildlife Activities

    HB 777 by Representative Tommy Gregory (R-Bradenton) would prohibit certain harassment of hunters, trappers and fishers in or on specified lands, areas and waters and would authorize FWCC to designate additional free fishing days. The bill would prohibit certain possession of specified reptiles and designate green iguanas and tegu lizards as prohibited reptiles. It would authorize certain persons and entities to exhibit, sell, or breed green iguanas and tegu lizards commercially under specified conditions. The Senate companion - SB 1414– by Senator Debbie Mayfield (R-Melbourne) passed the Senate floor on March 5, was substituted for the House bill and unanimously passed the House floor on Wednesday, March 11. The legislation now heads to Governor DeSantis’ desk for final action.

    Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

    HB 921 by Representative Chuck Brannan (R-Lake City) would revise the application of agricultural load securing requirements and authorize DACS to purchase private insurance policies and to revoke aquaculture certificates of registration. The bill would extend the scheduled expiration for use of funds from the Pest Control Trust Fund and direct the Florida Forest Service to develop training curriculum for wildland firefighters. It would also authorize the DACS to revoke an aquaculture certificate of registration under certain conditions. The House bill unanimously passed the House floor on Monday, March 9, was substituted for SB 1514 by Senator Ben Albritton and unanimously passed the Senate floor on Friday, March 13. The legislation now heads to Governor DeSantis for final action.

    It is our honor to represent FAA and its members and we look forward to seeing legislation that is of priority to the association signed into law. We will also continue to track developments related to the budget and send updates to the association.


  • March 12, 2020 11:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    VISIT FLORIDA and
    Tourist Development Taxes
     
    Two significant updates that affect our industry...

     

    1. The Florida House of Representatives (Speaker Oliva) has conceded its (his) position on VISIT FLORIDA and has passed SB 362 with an amendment to extend its sunset from June 30, 2020 to October 1, 2023. Additionally, both chambers have tentatively agreed to fund VISIT FLORIDA at $50 million for FY 2020-21.
       
    2. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment removing the "water quality projects" as an allowed use of Tourist Development Taxes (TDT) from the tax package (HB 7097). The amended tax package should be passed by the Senate today then sent back to the House for their expected approval.

    The threat of losing VISIT FLORIDA and expanded uses of TDT revenues were both priority issues for the FAA. This year's Legislative Session will go into overtime with an expected Sine Die next week.  

    While it's too early to celebrate our success (anything can still happen with these two issues), its not to early to thank your Senator and Representative for their support of Florida Tourism.

    Florida Attractions Association, 1114 North Gadsden Street, Tallahassee, FL 32303
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  • March 11, 2020 12:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Week eight tremendously impacted the 2020 Legislative Session, as policy committees met for the final time and hundreds of bills were heard on the House and Senate floors. With only one week remaining, legislators and advocates are frantically pushing to get legislation heard on the floor. After much anticipation and speculation, the budget conference process began this weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, joint budget conference committees met to negotiate their respective budgets and iron out differences.

    Liberty Partners is extremely proud to announce that the House and Senate have agreed to fund VISIT FLORIDA at $50 million during FY 2020-21. While the House had been silent on the issue and not appropriated any money for the agency this entire session, the breakthrough came this weekend as House Appropriations Chairman Representative Travis Cummings (R-Orange Park) and Senate Appropriations Chairman Senator Rob Bradley (R-Orange Park) announced on Saturday that the agency would be funded through FY 2020-21. The future is bright for VISIT FLORIDA, as Governor Ron DeSantis has also recommended funding the agency at $50 million. Liberty Partners will fight to ensure that this funding stays in the budget and is signed into law by Governor DeSantis.

    HB 1265 by Representative Cord Byrd (R-Jacksonville Beach) passed the House State Affairs Committee by a vote of 16-7 on Monday, March 2. This legislation would potentially affect Florida’s businesses by requiring public employers, contractors and subcontractors to register with E-Verify or an alternate employment verification system to ensure that all employees are legal citizens. If all parties have not registered to use E-Verify or a similar employment verification system, a contract cannot be entered into. Private businesses would also be affected by the legislation, as employers would be required to verify the citizenship status of new employees before hiring them and the status of current employees before renewing or extending the employee's contract. If a private employer does not register with E-Verify or a similar system, the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) would require the employer to submit documentation stating that the business will follow the verification requirements, terminate the employment of undocumented workers and not knowingly hire any undocumented workers. If a business fails to comply with DEO’s requirements within 30 days, the department would suspend the employer's licenses until the information is presented to the department. If a private employer violates these requirements three times in a three year period, the employer's licenses would be permanently suspended. We will continue to monitor this legislation closely on behalf of FAA as it could have repercussions for Florida businesses.

    Legislation that would prohibit the sale of shark fins in Florida passed the Senate floor on Thursday by a vote of 37-1. SB 680 by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) would additionally prohibit Floridians from importing or exporting the fins. There are exemptions in the legislation, however, as seafood dealers who legally possess and harvest sharks and shark fins and commercial fishermen that have possessed a valid shark fishing permit since January 1, 2020 or earlier would not affected by this bill.

    The FY 2020-21 House tax package passed the House floor by a vote of 97-16 on Friday. Sponsored by Representative Bryan Avila (R-Hialeah), HB 7097 contains many positive provisions that will save taxpayers money and encourage business growth in the state. In the package, a seven-day Disaster Preparedness Tax Holiday and three-day Back-to-School Tax Holiday is included. The bill also provides a 0.5% reduction in the state’s communications services tax and a reduction in the state’s business rent tax from 5.5% to 5.4%. While there are several good portions contained in the tax package, Liberty Partners continues to oppose a provision that would allow tourist development tax (TDT) dollars to be used for water quality projects in counties throughout the state. The expanded usage of these dollars would also apply to the Convention Development Tax levied in Duval, Miami-Dade and Volusia counties as well as the Local Option Food and Beverage Tax levied within parts of Miami-Dade County. Under the bill, counties would also be able to use these dollars to fund the construction or improvement of non-profit or publicly-owned parks and trails. We will continue to track this tax package as it makes its way through the budget conference process and continue to fight the erosion of the appropriate uses for TDT dollars.

    Following is a quick summary of bills that have been filed and other items of interest to the Florida Attractions Association (FAA):


    Amusement Rides

    SB 1228 by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) would require amusement ride managers to meet certain requirements and revise standards for rules adopted by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services relating to amusement rides. The bill would also remove the exemption from safety standards for certain museums and institutions and revise inspection standards for amusement rides. The bill has not received its second hearing in the Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee. The House companion - HB 1275 by Representative Sharon Pritchett (D-Miami Gardens) has unanimously passed the House floor.

    VISIT FLORIDA

    FAA continues to support legislation that would extend the scheduled 2020 sunset of VISIT FLORIDA until 2028. SB 362  by Senator Ed Hooper (R-Palm Harbor) has passed the Senate floor. The House companion - HB 213 - by Representative Mel Ponder (R-Fort Walton Beach) has not received a hearing in the House Workforce Development and Tourism Subcommittee.

    Tourism Development Tax

    SB 334 by Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) would authorize counties imposing a tourism development tax to use the tax revenues to promote or incentivize film or television productions in the state. The bill would also require a specified statement to be included in the production’s credits. The bill is still awaiting its final committee hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee. There is not a House companion.

    Lottery Games

    HB 991 by Representative Will Robinson (R-Bradenton) would prohibit an electronic device from being used to play any lottery game and would prohibit the Department of Lottery (DOL) from authorizing operation of a specified lottery game. The bill would require DOL to include a specified warning in all advertisements & promotions of lottery games and require contracts between DOL & a vendor to require that the vendor print a specified warning on all lottery tickets. Under the bill, certain funds in the Operating Trust Fund would be used for a specified annual payment for services relating to prevention of compulsive & addictive gambling. The bill passed the House floor by a vote of 108-9 on Wednesday, March 4. The Senate companion - SB 1318 by Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) - has not been heard in any Senate committee.

    Sports Franchises and Facilities

    HB 1369 by Representative Cary Pigman (R-Sebring) would delete provisions authorizing counties to impose specified taxes to pay debt service on bonds related to sports facilities and prohibit a county from leasing specified professional sports franchise facilities. It would prohibit the lease of public lands for purposes related to sports franchises & their facilities and require the lease of a facility on public lands to be at fair market value. The bill would require a sports franchise to repay specified debt incurred by local government related to construction of facilities. The bill has passed all committees and is waiting to be heard by all Representatives on the House floor. There is no companion bill in the Senate.

    Vacation Rentals

    HB 1011 by Representative Jason Fischer (R-Jacksonville) would preempt regulation of vacation rentals to the state and prohibit local law, ordinance or regulation from allowing or requiring inspections or licensing of vacation rentals. The bill would require licenses issued by the Division of Hotels and Restaurants of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to be displayed conspicuously inside a licensed establishment and preempt regulation of advertising platforms for vacation rentals to the state. It would also provide requirements for advertising platforms. The bill was temporarily postponed on the House floor on Friday, March 6. The Senate companion - SB 1128 – by Senator Manny Diaz (R- Hialeah Gardens) was temporarily postponed in the Senate Rules Committee on Monday, March 2.

    Entertainment Industry

    SB 530 by Senator Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) would create the Film, Television, and Digital Media Targeted Rebate Program within the Department of Economic Opportunity. Projects that are eligible for the rebate program must provide the highest return on investment and economic benefit to the state. The bill has not been heard in its second stop in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. The House companion - HB 497 - by Representative James Buchanan (R-North Port) has not received its first committee hearing in the House Workforce Development and Tourism Subcommittee.

    Declawing of Cats

    SB 48 by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) makes it illegal for any person to declaw a cat in Florida. Violations can result in a $1,000 fine and veterinarians found to be declawing the cat are subject to discipline by the Board of Veterinary Medicine. An exemption is made in the instance that a cat is declawed for therapeutic purposes. The bill is awaiting its second hearing in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. There is no House companion bill.

    Regulation of Recreational Activities

    HB 647 by Representative Brad Drake (R-Defuniak Springs) would revise provisions relating to recreational vehicle parks, including permit application, preemption, rebuilding of park, abandoned property, ejection of certain persons and removal of property from park and immunity from liability. The bill has passed all of House committees and awaits a hearing on the House floor. The Senate companion - SB 772– by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) is awaiting its final committee hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.

    Cultural Affairs

    HB 757 by Representative Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) would rename the Division of Cultural Affairs as Division of Arts & Culture and provide that the Secretary of State shall be known as "Florida's Chief Arts & Culture Officer". The bill would repeal provisions relating to Cultural Endowment Program short title, legislative intent, definitions and rulemaking. The bill has unanimously passed the House floor. The Senate companion - SB 1632 – by Senator Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) awaits its final hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.

    Emergency Sheltering of Persons with Pets

    HB 705 by Representative Sam Killebrew (R-Winter Haven) would require Department of Education to assist Division of Emergency Management in determining strategies regarding evacuation of persons with pets and would require certain counties to designate shelter that can accommodate persons with pets. It would also specify requirements for such shelters. The bill unanimously passed the House floor on Tuesday, March 3. The House bill was substituted for the Senate companion - SB 752 – by Senator Aaron Bean (R-Jacksonville) and unanimously passed the Senate floor on Friday, March 6.

    Beverage Law

    SB 482 by Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) would repeal provisions relating to limits to the size of wine and cider containers. Provisions that allow patrons of a restaurant to take partially consumed bottles of wine off the restaurant’s premises would also be changed under this law. The bill has not received its first committee hearing in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. The Housecompanion - HB 583 - by Representative Anthony Sabatini (R-Clermont) is awaiting its final hearing in the House Commerce Committee.

    Captive-bred Animal Culture

    SB 1176 by Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) would create the "Florida Animal Policy Act". The bill would provide duties of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and require the department to submit a list of specified research and development projects with its annual legislative budget request to the Governor and the Legislature. It would require a captive-bred producer to apply to the department for a certificate of registration and create the Captive-bred Animal Culture Advisory Council adjunct to the department. The bill has not received its first hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee. The House companion - HB 933 - by Representative Clovis Watson (D-Gainesville) has not received a hearing in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee.

    Nonservice Animals

    HB 243 by Representative Bruce Antone (D-Orlando) would prohibit nonservice animals from entering certain food service establishments or places of business. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation would also create and update a website for filed complaints. The bill has not been heard in the House Business and Professions Subcommittee. The Senate companion - SB 1814 – by Senator Bobby Powell (D-West Palm Beach) has not received its first hearing in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.

    Emotional Support Animals

    HB 209 by Representative Sam Killebrew (R-Winter Haven) would prohibit discrimination in a rental dwelling to a person with a disability or disability-related needs who has an emotional support animal. It would also prohibit a landlord from requiring such person to pay extra compensation and authorize the landlord to request certain written documentation. The bill has passed all committees and is awaiting to be heard on the House floor. The Senate companion - SB 1084 – by Senator Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah Gardens) unanimously passed the Senate floor on Tuesday, March 3.

    Shark Fins

    SB 680 by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) would prohibit the importation, exportation, and sale of shark fins. The bill passed the Senate floor by a vote of 37-1 on Friday, March 6. The House companion - HB 401 - by Representative Kristin Jacobs (D-Coconut Creek) awaits consideration on the House floor.

    Individual Wine Containers

    HB 6037 by Representative Chip LaMarca (R-Lighthouse Point) would repeal provisions relating to a limitation of size of individual wine containers. The bill has passed the House chamber. The Senate companion - SB 138- by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) is awaiting its first hearing in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee.

    Public Records/Trade Secrets

    HB 799 by Representative Tommy Gregory (R-Bradenton) would provide a public record exemption for trade secrets held by an agency, provide notice requirements and exceptions and provide that the agency employee is not liable for release of records in compliance with act. The bill would also provide applicability and future legislative review & repeal. The bill unanimously passed the House floor on Tuesday, March 3. The Senate companion - SB 1532 – by Senator Dennis Baxley (R-Lady Lake) has not received its first hearing in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.

    Verification of Employment Eligibility

    HB 1265 by Representative Cord Byrd (R-Jacksonville Beach) would require public employers, contractors, & subcontractors to use the E-Verify system for specified purposes and prohibits such entities from entering into a contract unless each party uses the E-Verify system. The bill would authorize termination of the contract and require private employers to verify employment eligibility of newly hired employees. The bill passed the House Appropriations Committee by a vote of 16-7 on Monday, March 2. The Senate companion - SB 664 – by Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon) passed the Senate Rules Committee by a vote of 10-7 on Monday, March 2 and awaits consideration on the Senate floor.

    Monuments

    HB 981 by Representative Tyler Sirois (R-Merritt Island) would establish the Florida Space Exploration Monument and provide for administration of the monument. The design shall be chosen by committee from entries submitted by the public. DMS would be directed to develop specified plan for placement & cost of the monument & submit the plan to the Governor & Legislature by a specified date. The bill has not been heard in the House Oversight, Transparency and Public Management Subcommittee. The Senate companion - SB 1260 – by Senator Ben Albritton (R-Bartow) awaits its final committee hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee .

    Fish and Wildlife Activities

    HB 777 by Representative Tommy Gregory (R-Bradenton) would prohibit certain harassment of hunters, trappers and fishers in or on specified lands, areas and waters and would authorize FWCC to designate additional free fishing days. The bill would prohibit certain possession of specified reptiles and designate green iguanas and tegu lizards as prohibited reptiles. It would authorize certain persons and entities to exhibit, sell, or breed green iguanas and tegu lizards commercially under specified conditions. The bill is awaiting consideration on the House floor. The Senate companion - SB 1414– by Senator Debbie Mayfield (R-Melbourne) unanimously passed the Senate floor on Thursday, March 5.

    Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

    HB 921 by Representative Chuck Brannan (R-Lake City) would revise the application of agricultural load securing requirements and authorize DACS to purchase private insurance policies and to revoke aquaculture certificates of registration. The bill would extend the scheduled expiration for use of funds from the Pest Control Trust Fund and direct the Florida Forest Service to develop training curriculum for wildland firefighters. It would also provide wildland firefighter training and certification for certain firefighters. The bill awaits consideration on the House floor. The Senate companion - SB 1514 – by Senator Ben Albrittion is awaiting its final committee hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee.


  • March 04, 2020 10:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    -- CALL TO ACTION --
    The Time to Act is NOW
    As we move into the final days of the 2020 Legislative Session, we find our tourism industry in peril on two fronts...

    Threat #1

    House Speaker Oliva has denied our industry the opportunity to defend VISIT FLORIDA before the committees he referenced HB 213 to. The House's position is to let VISIT FLORIDA sunset on June 30, 2020 - without any public input or discussion - is very unfortunate.

    The Senate's position remains steadfast, unanimously passing SB 362 which extends VISIT FLORIDA until October 2028. In addition, the Senate (and Governor) recommend that VISIT FLORIDA continue to be funded at $50 million/year.

    The result of this dichotomy will be the negotiation of the two chambers through the budget process which likely begins late this week. The next 72 hours will be critical, and NOW is the time to contact your Representative and Senator about the importance of VISIT FLORIDA. We need to turn the House in our favor. The Florida Senate needs to hold firm - they are our industry's "firewall".


    Threat #2

    The House budget recommends expanding the use of Tourist Development Tax (TDT) revenues for water quality issues. While we all desire clean water and efficient water treatment facilities, tourism promotion is what primes the pump that produces sales taxes our tourists pay to fund water quality initiatives. We need to ensure the House does not further erode the use of TDT for other purposes beyond the promotion of tourism.


    Call to Action

    As we approach the end of the 2020 Legislative Session, Speaker Oliva and President Galvano informally begin to transfer power to the next House Speaker, Chris Sprowls, and the next Senate President, Wilton Simpson.

    These six Legislators will decide the fate of VISIT FLORIDA and the productivity of your county's Tourist Development Tax income:

    You can influence the outcome by also contacting your Senator and Representative and tell them why you support VISIT FLORIDA and protecting Tourism Promotion Tax revenue for their intended purpose. Ask them to lobby their chamber's Appropriations Committee.

    Copyright 2020 Florida Attractions Association
    Florida Attractions Association, 1114 North Gadsden Street, Tallahassee, FL 32303
    Sent by info@floridaattractions.org in collaboration with
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  • March 03, 2020 9:14 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The hustle and bustle around the Capitol continued this week, as legislators and those involved in the political process continued to make strides in passing meaningful legislation. With a mere two weeks remaining in the 2020 Legislative Session, lawmakers and advocates are making final efforts to get legislation passed out of committee and heard on the House and Senate floors. Rumors of budget conference are beginning to swirl, as we inch close to Sine Die on March 13.

    Important legislation that Liberty Partners and FAA have been working on together, in coordination with the Florida Department of Agriculure and Consumer Services (FDACS), crossed the finish line in the House this week, as HB 1275 by Representative Sharon Pritchett (D-Miami Gardens) unanimously passed the House floor on Wednesday, February 26. A high priority of FAA and its members, the bill ensures the safety of amusement rides by requiring temporary rides such as fair or carnival tides to be inspected by FDACS each time the ride moves to a new location. Under the bill, ride managers would be responsible for complying with state regulations and administrative and operational fines would increase. However, permanent rides would be exempt from these frequent inspections as long as the rides are inspected twice a year by an accredited trade organization. Liberty Partners and FAA have worked diligently to ensure that this provision is contained in the bill and look forward to seeing this legislation pass in the Senate.

    Liberty Partners continues to closely monitor HB 1265 by Representative Cord Byrd (R-Jacksonville Beach) that would require certain private employers to register with E-Verify or an alternate employment verification system. The bill would also require certain public employers, contractors and subcontractors must to register and use an employment verification system to confirm that their employees are not unauthorized aliens. Contractors or subcontractors that have less than 10 employees in Florida and that have contracts valued under $65,000 and $35,000, respectively, are exempt from the employment verification process. Public employers and their contractors and subcontractors, as well as private employers of 100 or more employees must register with a verification system by July 1, 2021. Private employers of 20 or more employees must register with a system by January 1, 2022. After being fully implemented, the bill would apply to private employers that have 20 or more employees in the state. If the employer does not register with an employment verification system, the employer may face a $500 fine and have 30 days to register. If the employer has still not registered within those 30 days, the Department of Economic Opportunity will order the appropriate agency to suspend the employer’s business license. We will continue to track this bill on behalf of FAA and keep the association updated on the possible effect that the legislation could have on its members.

    After extended discussion and debate, the House Appropriations Committee passed the chamber's proposed FY 2020-21 tax package on Tuesday. HB 7097 by Representative Bryan Avila (R-Hialeah) contains several positive provisions, including a reduction in the state's business rent tax from 5.5% to 5.4%, a seven-day Disaster Preparedness Tax Holiday and three-day Back-to-School Tax Holiday. The legislation also clarifies that School Capital Outlay surtaxes must be shared equally with charter schools and reduces the communications services tax by 0.5%. A concerning provision in the tax package would allow counties to use tourist development tax (TDT) dollars to fund water quality improvement and enhancement projects. This expansion of TDT usage would also apply to the Convention Development Tax levied in Duval, Miami-Dade and Volusia counties as well as the Local Option Food and Beverage Tax levied within parts of Miami-Dade County. Under the bill, counties would also be able to use these specific dollars to fund the construction or improvement of non-profit or publicly-owned parks and trails. During public testimony on Tuesday, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and the Florida Association of Counties spoke against the expanded uses of TDT revenues and urged legislators to put safeguards and parameters around the expansion. The continued erosion of these funds create a sense of uneasiness for FAA and the tourism industry. We will continue to fight to ensure that these dollars are used for their intended purposes.

    Following is a quick summary of bills that have been filed and other items of interest to the Florida Attractions Association (FAA):

    Amusement Rides

    SB 1228 by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) would require amusement ride managers to meet certain requirements and revise standards for rules adopted by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services relating to amusement rides. The bill would also remove the exemption from safety standards for certain museums and institutions and revise inspection standards for amusement rides. The bill is awaiting its second hearing in the Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee. The House companion - HB 1275 by Representative Sharon Pritchett (D- Miami Gardens) unanimously passed the House floor on Wednesday, February 26.

    VISIT FLORIDA

    FAA continues to support legislation that would extend the scheduled 2020 sunset of VISIT FLORIDA until 2028. SB 362 by Senator Ed Hooper (R-Palm Harbor) has passed the Senate. The House companion - HB 213 - by Representative Mel Ponder (R-Fort Walton Beach) has not received its first hearing in the House Workforce Development and Tourism Subcommittee.

    Tourism Development Tax

    SB 334 by Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) would authorize counties imposing a tourism development tax to use the tax revenues to promote or incentivize film or television productions in the state. The bill would also require a specified statement to be included in the production’s credits. The bill is awaiting its final committee hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill does not have a House companion.

    Lottery Games

    HB 991 by Representative Will Robinson (R-Bradenton) would prohibit an electronic device from being used to play any lottery game and would prohibit the Department of Lottery (DOL) from authorizing operation of a specified lottery game. The bill would require DOL to include a specified warning in all advertisements & promotions of lottery games and require contracts between DOL & a vendor to require that the vendor print a specified warning on all lottery tickets. Under the bill, certain funds in the Operating Trust Fund would be used for a specified annual payment for services relating to prevention of compulsive & addictive gambling. The bill is scheduled to be considered on the House floor on Tuesday, March 3. The Senate companion - SB 1318 by Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) - has not received a committee hearing.

    Sports Franchises and Facilities

    HB 1369 by Representative Cary Pigman (R-Sebring) would delete provisions authorizing counties to impose specified taxes to pay debt service on bonds related to sports facilities and prohibit a county from leasing specified professional sports franchise facilities. It would prohibit the lease of public lands for purposes related to sports franchises & their facilities and require the lease of a facility on public lands to be at fair market value. The bill would require a sports franchise to repay specified debt incurred by local government related to construction of facilities. The bill is waiting to be heard by all Representatives on the House floor. The bill does not have a companion in the Senate.

    Vacation Rentals

    HB 1011 by Representative Jason Fischer (R-Jacksonville) would preempt regulation of vacation rentals to the state and prohibit local law, ordinance or regulation from allowing or requiring inspections or licensing of vacation rentals. The bill would require licenses issued by the Division of Hotels and Restaurants of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to be displayed conspicuously inside a licensed establishment and preempt regulation of advertising platforms for vacation rentals to the state. It would also provide requirements for advertising platforms. The bill is awaiting consideration on the House floor by all Representatives. The Senate companion - SB 1128 – by Senator Manny Diaz (R- Hialeah Gardens) is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Rules Committee on Monday, March 2.

    Entertainment Industry

    SB 530 by Senator Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) would create the Film, Television, and Digital Media Targeted Rebate Program within the Department of Economic Opportunity. Projects that are eligible for the rebate program must provide the highest return on investment and economic benefit to the state. The bill has not been heard in its second stop in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. The House companion - HB 497 - by Representative James Buchanan (R-North Port) has not received its first committee hearing in the House Workforce Development and Tourism Subcommittee.

    Declawing of Cats

    SB 48 by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) makes it illegal for any person to declaw a cat in Florida. Violations can result in a $1,000 fine and veterinarians found to be declawing the cat are subject to discipline by the Board of Veterinary Medicine. An exemption is made in the instance that a cat is declawed for therapeutic purposes. The bill is awaiting its second hearing in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. There is no House companion bill.

    Regulation of Recreational Activities

    HB 647 by Representative Brad Drake (R-Defuniak Springs) would revise provisions relating to recreational vehicle parks, including permit application, preemption, rebuilding of park, abandoned property, ejection of certain persons and removal of property from park and immunity from liability. The bill has passed all of its committee references now awaits a hearing on the House floor. The Senate companion - SB 772 – by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) is awaiting its final committee hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.

    Cultural Affairs

    HB 757 by Representative Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) would rename the Division of Cultural Affairs as Division of Arts & Culture and provide that the Secretary of State shall be known as "Florida's Chief Arts & Culture Officer". The bill would repeal provisions relating to Cultural Endowment Program short title, legislative intent, definitions and rulemaking. The bill unanimously passed the House floor on Wednesday, February 26. The Senate companion - SB 1632 – by Senator Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) awaits its final hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.

    Emergency Sheltering of Persons with Pets

    HB 705 by Representative Sam Killebrew (R-Winter Haven) would require Department of Education to assist Division of Emergency Management in determining strategies regarding evacuation of persons with pets and would require certain counties to designate shelter that can accommodate persons with pets. It would also specify requirements for such shelters. The bill is scheduled to be considered on the House floor on Tuesday, March 3. The Senate companion - SB 752 – by Senator Aaron Bean (R- Jacksonville) unanimously passed the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday, February 26 and awaits consideration on the Senate floor.

    Beverage Law

    SB 482 by Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) would repeal provisions relating to limits to the size of wine and cider containers. Provisions that allow patrons of a restaurant to take partially consumed bottles of wine off the restaurant’s premises would also be changed under this law. The bill has not received its first committee hearing in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. The House companion - HB 583 - by Representative Anthony Sabatini (R-Clermont) is awaiting its final hearing in the House Commerce Committee.

    Captive-bred Animal Culture

    SB 1176 by Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) would create the "Florida Animal Policy Act". The bill would provide duties of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and require the department to submit a list of specified research and development projects with its annual legislative budget request to the Governor and the Legislature. It would require a captive-bred producer to apply to the department for a certificate of registration and create the Captive-bred Animal Culture Advisory Council adjunct to the department. The bill has not received its first hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee. The House companion - HB 933 - by Representative Clovis Watson (D-Gainesville) has not received a hearing in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee.

    Nonservice Animals

    HB 243 by Representative Bruce Antone (D-Orlando) would prohibit nonservice animals from entering certain food service establishments or places of business. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation would also create and update a website for filed complaints. The bill has not been heard in the House Business and Professions Subcommittee. The Senate companion - SB 1814 – by Senator Bobby Powell (D-West Palm Beach) has not received its first hearing in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.

    Emotional Support Animals

    HB 209 by Representative Sam Killebrew (R-Winter Haven) would prohibit discrimination in a rental dwelling to a person with a disability or disability-related needs who has an emotional support animal. It would also prohibit a landlord from requiring such person to pay extra compensation and authorize the landlord to request certain written documentation. The bill has passed all committees and is awaiting to be heard on the House floor. The Senate companion - SB 1084 – by Senator Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah Gardens) has passed all committees and is scheduled to be considered by all Senators on the Senate floor on Tuesday, March 3.

    Shark Fins

    SB 680 by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) would prohibit the importation, exportation, and sale of shark fins. The bill is scheduled to receive its final committee hearing in the Senate Rules Committee on Monday, March 2. The House companion - HB 401 - by Representative Kristin Jacobs (D-Coconut Creek) awaits consideration on the House floor.

    Individual Wine Containers

    HB 6037 by Representative Chip LaMarca (R-Lighthouse Point) would repeal provisions relating to a limitation of size of individual wine containers. The bill has passed the House chamber. The Senate companion - SB 138 - by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) is awaiting its first hearing in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee.

    Public Records/Trade Secrets

    HB 799 by Representative Tommy Gregory (R-Bradenton) would provide a public record exemption for trade secrets held by an agency, provide notice requirements and exceptions and provide that the agency employee is not liable for release of records in compliance with act. The bill would also provide applicability and future legislative review & repeal. The bill is scheduled to be heard on the House floor on Tuesday, March 3. The Senate companion - SB 1532 – by Senator Dennis Baxley (R-Lady Lake) has not received its first hearing in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.

    Verification of Employment Eligibility

    HB 1265 by Representative Cord Byrd (R-Jacksonville Beach) would require public employers, contractors, & subcontractors to use the E-Verify system for specified purposes and prohibits such entities from entering into a contract unless each party uses the E-Verify system. The bill would authorize termination of the contract and require private employers to verify employment eligibility of newly hired employees. The bill passed the House Commerce Committee by a vote of 15-8 on Thursday, February 27 and now moves to the House Appropriations Committee. The Senate companion - SB 664 – by Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon) is scheduled to receive its final committee hearing in the Senate Rules Committee on Monday, March 2.

    Monuments

    HB 981 by Representative Tyler Sirois (R-Merritt Island) would establish the Florida Space Exploration Monument and provide for administration of the monument. The design shall be chosen by committee from entries submitted by the public. DMS would be directed to develop specified plan for placement & cost of the monument & submit the plan to the Governor & Legislature by a specified date. The bill has not been heard in the House Oversight, Transparency and Public Management Subcommittee. The Senate companion - SB 1260 – by Senator Ben Albritton (R-Bartow) awaits its final committee hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee .

    Fish and Wildlife Activities

    HB 777 by Representative Tommy Gregory (R-Bradenton) would prohibit certain harassment of hunters, trappers and fishers in or on specified lands, areas and waters and would authorize FWCC to designate additional free fishing days. The bill would prohibit certain possession of specified reptiles and designate green iguanas and tegu lizards as prohibited reptiles. It would authorize certain persons and entities to exhibit, sell, or breed green iguanas and tegu lizards commercially under specified conditions. The bill unanimously passed the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday, February 27 and now moves to the House floor for consideration. The Senate companion - SB 1414 – by Senator Debbie Mayfield (R-Melbourne) has passed all committees and moves to the Senate floor for consideration.

    Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

    HB 921 by Representative Chuck Brannan (R-Lake City) would revise the application of agricultural load securing requirements and authorize DACS to purchase private insurance policies and to revoke aquaculture certificates of registration. The bill would extend the scheduled expiration for use of funds from the Pest Control Trust Fund and direct the Florida Forest Service to develop training curriculum for wildland firefighters. It would also provide wildland firefighter training and certification for certain firefighters. The bill unanimously passed the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday, February 27 and moves to the House floor for consideration. The Senate companion - SB 1514 – by Senator Ben Albrittion is awaiting its final committee hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee.



  • February 24, 2020 12:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    E-Verify is an Internet-based system through which an employer can verify that a newly hired employee is authorized to work in the United States. SB 664 by Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon) would require certain private employers to register with E-Verify or an alternate employment verification system. Certain public employers, contractors and subcontractors must also register and use an employment verification system to confirm that their employees are not unauthorized aliens. Contractors or subcontractors that have less than 10 employees in Florida and that have contracts valued under $65,000 and $35,000, respectively, are exempt from the employment verification process. Public employers and their contractors and subcontractors, as well as private employers of 100 or more employees must register with a system by July 1, 2021. Private employers of 20 or more employees must register with a system by January 1, 2022.

    After being fully implemented, the bill would apply to private employers that have 20 or more employees in the state. If the employer does not register with an employment verification system, the employer may face a $500 fine and have 30 days to register. If the employer has still not registered within those 30 days, the Department of Economic Opportunity will order the appropriate agency to suspend the employer’s business license.

    An employer who relies on E-Verify’s evidence that a person is unauthorized may not be sued for refusing to hire the unauthorized person. If E-Verify indicates that an employee is eligible to work in the United States, there is a rebuttable presumption that the employer did not knowingly employ an unauthorized alien.

    On February 11, SB 664 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 4-2, with Senator Audrey Gibson (D- Jacksonville) and Senator Jose Rodriguez (D-Miami) voting no. On February 18, the bill passed the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee by a vote of 3-2, with Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) and Senator Victor Torres (D-Kissimmee) voting no. The Senate bill awaits its final committee hearing in the Senate Rules Committee but is not on the committee’s agenda for Wednesday, February 26. The House companion – HB 1265 by Representative Byrd (R-Jacksonville Beach) and Representative Fitzenhagen (R-Ft. Myers) has been referred to three committees and has not received its first committee hearing.


  • February 24, 2020 11:04 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    With only three weeks remaining in the 2020 Legislative Session, lawmakers and advocates begin to set their sights on Sine Die on March 13. As the end of session nears, it is becoming clear which bills have the momentum to get across the finish line and which bills will not pass. While there was no action taken on the budget this week, it is expected that the House and Senate will begin the budget conference process in the coming days.

    A Senate bill that Liberty Partners and FAA have been following closely passed its first committee this week, with Liberty Partners Vice President Melanie Bostick speaking in support of the legislation on behalf of the association. SB 1228 by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) unanimously passed the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday and awaits its second committee stop in the Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee. The bill specifies that temporary amusement rides such as carnival or fair rides must be inspected by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) each time the ride is set up at a new location. Liberty Partners and FAA have worked to ensure that permanent rides are exempt from these frequent inspections and have an added layer of protection. We will continue to work in lockstep with FDACS and FAA to keep this important provision in the bill.

    Another bill of importance to FAA moved forward in the Senate this week. SB 680 by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) would prohibit the sale or exportation of shark fins in the state and would ban the importation of shark fins into Florida. However, commercial fishermen that obtain a federal permit on January 1, 2020 to catch sharks and seafood dealers that possess legally processed, handled and transported sharks or shark fins will not be affected by this bill. Liberty Partners will continue to monitor this legislation closely on behalf of FAA.

    On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee passed their tax package - HB 7097. The legislation contains several provisions, including a reduction in the business rent tax, seven-day Disaster Preparedness Tax Holiday and three-day Back-to-School Tax Holiday. However, a particular portion of the tax package dealing with tourist development taxes (TDT) raises concern with FAA. Under the bill, the usage of these taxes would be expanded to include funding for water quality improvement projects in counties and cities across Florida. Additionally, the TDT usage expansions would apply to the Convention Development Tax levied in Duval, Miami-Dade and Volusia counties as well as the Local Option Food and Beverage Tax levied within parts of Miami-Dade County. During Wednesday’s committee meeting, Melanie Bostick addressed the committee on behalf of FAA. In her testimony, Bostick commended the committee on reducing the state’s business rent tax but expressed FAA’s opposition to the expansion of TDT dollars and asked the committee to reconsider this issue. The Florida Retail Association and Greater Miami Beaches and Hotel Association also spoke in opposition to this aspect of the bill. We will continue to fight on behalf of FAA to ensure that the expanded usage of these dollars are not included in the final tax package.


    Following is a quick summary of bills that have been filed and other items of interest to the Florida Attractions Association (FAA):


    Amusement Rides

    SB 1228 by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) would require amusement ride managers to meet certain requirements and revise standards for rules adopted by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services relating to amusement rides. The bill would also remove the exemption from safety standards for certain museums and institutions and revise inspection standards for amusement rides. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday, February 18. The House companion - HB 1275 by Representative Sharon Pritchett (D-Miami Gardens) unanimously passed the House Commerce Committee on Thursday, February 13 and now heads to the House floor to be debated and voted on by all Representatives.

    VISIT FLORIDA

    FAA continues to support legislation that would extend the scheduled 2020 sunset of VISIT FLORIDA until 2028. SB 362  by Senator Ed Hooper (R-Palm Harbor) passed the full Senate on Wednesday, February 12 unanimously. The House companion - HB 213 - by Representative Mel Ponder (R-Fort Walton Beach) is still awaiting its first committee hearing in the House Workforce Development and Tourism Subcommittee.

    Tourism Development Tax

    SB 334 by Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) would authorize counties imposing a tourism development tax to use the tax revenues to promote or incentivize film or television productions in the state. The bill would also require a specified statement to be included in the production’s credits. The bill unanimously passed the Senate Finance and Tax Committee on Tuesday, February 18 and now moves to the Senate floor for consideration. The bill does not have a House companion.

    Lottery Games

    HB 991 by Representative Will Robinson (R-Bradenton) would prohibit an electronic device from being used to play any lottery game and would prohibit the Department of Lottery (DOL) from authorizing operation of a specified lottery game. The bill would require DOL to include a specified warning in all advertisements & promotions of lottery games and require contracts between DOL & a vendor to require that the vendor print a specified warning on all lottery tickets. Under the bill, certain funds in the Operating Trust Fund would be used for a specified annual payment for services relating to prevention of compulsive & addictive gambling. The bill unanimously passed the House Commerce Committee on Thursday, February 20 and now moves to the House floor. The Senate companion - SB 1318 by Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) - has not received a committee hearing.

    Sports Franchises and Facilities

    HB 1369 by Representative Cary Pigman (R-Sebring) would delete provisions authorizing counties to impose specified taxes to pay debt service on bonds related to sports facilities and prohibit a county from leasing specified professional sports franchise facilities. It would prohibit the lease of public lands for purposes related to sports franchises & their facilities and require the lease of a facility on public lands to be at fair market value. The bill would require a sports franchise to repay specified debt incurred by local government related to construction of facilities. The bill has moved to the House floor and is awaiting consideration by all Representatives. The bill does not have a companion in the Senate.

    Vacation Rentals

    HB 1011 by Representative Jason Fischer (R-Jacksonville) would preempt regulation of vacation rentals to the state and prohibit local law, ordinance or regulation from allowing or requiring inspections or licensing of vacation rentals. The bill would require licenses issued by the Division of Hotels and Restaurants of DBPR to be displayed conspicuously inside a licensed establishment and preempt regulation of advertising platforms for vacation rentals to the state. It would also provide requirements for advertising platforms. The bill passed the House Commerce Committee by a vote of 14-9 on Thursday, February 20 and moves to the House floor for full consideration. The Senate companion - SB 1128 – by Senator Manny Diaz (R- Hialeah Gardens) awaits its final committee hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.

    Entertainment Industry

    SB 530 by Senator Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) would create the Film, Television, and Digital Media Targeted Rebate Program within the Department of Economic Opportunity. Projects that are eligible for the rebate program must provide the highest return on investment and economic benefit to the state. The bill has not been heard in its second stop in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. The House companion - HB 497 - by Representative James Buchanan (R-North Port) has not received its first hearing in the House Workforce Development and Tourism Subcommittee.

    Declawing of Cats

    SB 48 by Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) makes it illegal for any person to declaw a cat in Florida. Violations can result in a $1,000 fine and veterinarians found to be declawing the cat are subject to discipline by the Board of Veterinary Medicine. An exemption is made in the instance that a cat is declawed for therapeutic purposes. The bill is awaiting its second hearing in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. There is not a House companion bill.

    Regulation of Recreational Activities

    HB 647 by Representative Brad Drake (R-Defuniak Springs) would revise provisions relating to recreational vehicle parks, including permit application, preemption, rebuilding of park, abandoned property, ejection of certain persons and removal of property from park and immunity from liability. The bill has passed all of its committee references now awaits a hearing on the House floor. The Senate companion - SB 772– by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) awaits its final committee hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.

    Cultural Affairs

    HB 757 by Representative Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) would rename the Division of Cultural Affairs as Division of Arts & Culture and provide that the Secretary of State shall be known as "Florida's Chief Arts & Culture Officer". The bill would repeal provisions relating to Cultural Endowment Program short title, legislative intent, definitions and rulemaking. The bill has passed all

    committees and is scheduled to be heard on the House floor on Wednesday, February 26. The Senate companion - SB 1632 – by Senator Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) unanimously passed the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee on Tuesday, February 18 and now awaits its final hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.

    Emergency Sheltering of Persons with Pets

    HB 705 by Representative Sam Killebrew (R-Winter Haven) would require Department of Education to assist Division of Emergency Management in determining strategies regarding evacuation of persons with pets and would require certain counties to designate shelter that can accommodate persons with pets. It would also specify requirements for such shelters. The bill unanimously passed the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday, February 20 and now heads to the House floor for consideration. The Senate companion - SB 752 – by Senator Aaron Bean (R-Jacksonville) is scheduled to receive its final committee hearing in the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday, February 26.

    Beverage Law

    SB 482 by Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) would repeal provisions relating to limits to the size of wine and cider containers. Provisions that allow patrons of a restaurant to take partially consumed bottles of wine off the restaurant’s premises would also be changed under this law. The bill has not received its first committee hearing in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee. The House companion - HB 583 - by Representative Anthony Sabatini (R-Clermont) is awaiting its final hearing in the House Commerce Committee.

    Captive-bred Animal Culture

    SB 1176 by Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) would create the "Florida Animal Policy Act". The bill would provide duties of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and require the department to submit a list of specified research and development projects with its annual legislative budget request to the Governor and the Legislature. It would require a captive-bred producer to apply to the department for a certificate of registration and create the Captive-bred Animal Culture Advisory Council adjunct to the department. The bill has not received its first hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee. The House companion - HB 933 - by Representative Clovis Watson (D-Gainesville) has not been heard in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee.

    Nonservice Animals

    HB 243 by Representative Bruce Antone (D-Orlando) would prohibit nonservice animals from entering certain food service establishments or places of business. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation would also create and update a website for filed complaints. The bill has not been heard in the House Business and Professions Subcommittee. The Senate companion - SB 1814 – by Senator Bobby Powell (D-West Palm Beach) has not received a hearing in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.

    Emotional Support Animals

    HB 209 by Representative Sam Killebrew (R-Winter Haven) would prohibit discrimination in a rental dwelling to a person with a disability or disability-related needs who has an emotional support animal. It would also prohibit a landlord from requiring such person to pay extra compensation and authorize the landlord to request certain written documentation. The bill has passed all committees and is awaiting to be heard on the House floor. The Senate companion - SB 1084 – by Senator Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah Gardens) unanimously passed the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday, February 19 and is scheduled to be heard on the Senate floor on Wednesday, February 26.

    Shark Fins

    SB 680 by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) would prohibit the importation, exportation, and sale of shark fins. The bill unanimously passed the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee on Tuesday, February 18 and is scheduled to receive its final committee hearing in the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday, February 26. The House companion - HB 401 - by Representative Kristin Jacobs (D-Coconut Creek) has passed all committees and awaits consideration on the House floor.

    Individual Wine Containers

    HB 6037 by Representative Chip LaMarca (R-Lighthouse Point) would repeal provisions relating to a limitation of size of individual wine containers. The bill has passed the House chamber. The Senate companion - SB 138- by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) was not considered in the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee on Monday, February 17.

    Public Records/Trade Secrets

    HB 799 by Representative Tommy Gregory (R-Bradenton) would provide a public record exemption for trade secrets held by an agency, provide notice requirements and exceptions and provide that the agency employee is not liable for release of records in compliance with act. The bill would also provide applicability and future legislative review & repeal. The bill has passed all committees and moves to the House floor for consideration. The Senate companion - SB 1532 – by Senator Dennis Baxley (R-Lady Lake) has not been heard in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.

    Verification of Employment Eligibility

    HB 1265 by Representative Cord Byrd (R-Jacksonville Beach) would require public employers, contractors, & subcontractors to use the E-Verify system for specified purposes and prohibits such entities from entering into a contract unless each party uses the E-Verify system. The bill would authorize termination of the contract and require private employers to verify employment eligibility of newly hired employees. The bill has not received its first hearing in the House Commerce Committee. The Senate companion - SB 664 – by Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon) passed the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee by a vote of 3-2 on Tuesday, February 18 and awaits its final committee hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.

    Monuments

    HB 981 by Representative Tyler Sirois (R-Merritt Island) would establish the Florida Space Exploration Monument and provide for administration of the monument. The design shall be chosen by committee from entries submitted by the public. DMS would be directed to develop specified plan for placement & cost of the monument & submit the plan to the Governor & Legislature by a specified date. The bill has yet to be heard in the House Oversight, Transparency and Public Management Subcommittee. The Senate companion - SB 1260 – by Senator Ben Albritton (R-Bartow) awaits its final committee hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee .

    Heat Illness Prevention

    HB 513 by Representative Carlos Smith (D-Winter Park) would require certain employers to provide drinking water, shade, & annual training to employees & supervisors and require the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services & the Department of Health to adopt specified rules. The House bill has not been heard in the House Workforce Development and Tourism Subcommittee. The Senate companion - SB 882– by Senator Victor Torres (D-Kissimmee) has not been heard in the Senate Agriculture Committee.

    Employment Practices

    HB 889 by Representative Tracie Davis (D-Jacksonville) would create the “Florida Family Leave Act”. The bill would require an employer to allow certain employees to take paid family leave to bond with a minor child upon the child's birth, adoption, or foster care placement. The bill would provide requirements, limitations, & duties and provide for civil action & penalties & criminal penalty. The legislation would prohibit specified employment practices on basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. It would also provide for leave, maintenance of health coverage, reasonable accommodation & transfer, & return rights for an employee who is disabled from pregnancy, childbirth, or medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. The bill has not been heard in the House Business and Professions Subcommittee. The Senate companion – SB 1194 – by Senator Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) has not been heard in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.


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