The legislative process is in full swing in the State’s Capitol, as committees and subcommittees continue to consider policy and appropriation bills. As the Legislature enters the fourth week of the 2021 Legislative Session, the House and Senate will begin spending more time on their respective floors and both chambers will begin the process of crafting their preliminary budgets for FY 2021-22.
In statewide news, Governor Ron DeSantis outlined his spending recommendations last week for Florida’s allocation of funds that are available through the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Governor DeSantis is recommending that the Legislature spend $1.4 billion in federal funding to fund environmental, economic development, educational, behavioral and infrastructure projects during the current fiscal year. Notably, the Governor is recommending that $50 million in federal stimulus funds be used to support VISIT FLORIDA. This investment would be in addition to the $50 million that Governor DeSantis has proposed in his FY 2020-21 budget and would bring the Governor’s total proposed allocation to VISIT FLORIDA to $100 million in FY 2020-21.
Governor DeSantis also issued Executive Order 21-67 on Friday. This executive order lowers COVID-19 vaccination eligibility to all Floridians age 50 and above, beginning Monday, March 22.
Below is a summary of bills that have been filed that are of interest to the Florida Attractions Association (FAA):
Tourist and Convention Development Taxes
HB 1429 by Representative Bryan Avila (R-Miami) would revise provisions concerning voting procedures for & authorized uses of tourist development taxes (TDT) & convention development taxes (CDT). The bill unanimously passed the House Ways & Means Committee on Monday and awaits its final stop in the House State Affairs Committee. The Senate companion – SB 2008 – by Senator Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah Gardens) has not received a committee hearing. On behalf of FAA, we continue to advocate against the expanded uses of TDT & CDT dollars. Ahead of the committee meeting on Monday, we assisted FAA in drafting a “call to action” for all FAA members that urged them to contact House Ways & Means Committee members and ask them to vote “no” on HB 1429. We urge you to draft an email to your legislators, highlighting how the TDT in your county helps market your attraction and how you depend on these important dollars to bring visitors to your attraction. To find your district’s legislators and their email addresses, click here.
Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19
HB 7 by Representative Lawrence McClure (R-Plant City) would provide requirements for civil action based on COVID-19-related claim; provide that the plaintiff has burden of proof in such action and provide a statute of limitations. The bill has passed the House floor. The Senate companion – SB 72 – by Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) passed the Senate floor by a vote of 24-15 on Thursday and is awaiting consideration on the House floor.
HB 1317 by Representative Chip LaMarca (R-Lighthouse Point) would authorize wagers on sports events; provide duties of Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering; authorize application to division for license to operate sports pool; require annual renewal of license; prohibit sports pools from being offered by anyone other than division or licensee; specify requirements for accepting wagers; authorize provision of benefits to induce wagering; require background checks for licensee employees; prohibit & require adoption of procedures to prevent certain persons from wagering; prohibit accepting wagers from certain persons; provide for distribution of unclaimed winnings; require deposit of certain penalties into DBPR's Pari-mutuel Wagering Trust Fund. The bill is awaiting its first hearing in the House Regulatory Reform Subcommittee. The Senate companion – SB 392 – by Senator Jeff Brandes is awaiting its first committee stop in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.
Alcoholic Beverage Licenses
HB 329 by Representative Josie Tomkow (R-Auburndale) would authorize food service establishments to sell or deliver alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption if requirements are met; revise provisions that authorize restaurant to allow patrons to remove partially consumed bottles of wine from restaurant for off-premises consumption; revise requirements for sale of alcoholic beverages by certain vendors. The bill unanimously passed the House Commerce Committee on Tuesday. The Senate companion – SB 134 – by Senator Jeff Brandes is still awaiting its first stop in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. A related bill – SB 148 – by Senator Jennifer Bradley (R-Orange Park) is awaiting its final hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.
Sales & Use Tax
HB 15 by Representative Chuck Clemons (R-Jonesville) would revise conditions for certain dealers subject to sales tax; delete exemption for certain dealers from collecting local option surtaxes; provide certain marketplace providers are subject to registration, collection, & remittance requirements for sales
taxes; require marketplace providers to provide certification to marketplace sellers; specify requirements for marketplace sellers; require marketplace providers to allow DOR to audit books & records; provide that marketplace seller is liable for sales tax collection & remittance; authorize marketplace providers & marketplace sellers to enter into agreements to recover certain taxes, interest, & penalties; grant DOR settlement & compromise authority for marketplace sales; remove authority of DOR to negotiate collection allowance with certain dealers. The House bill is awaiting its final committee stop in the House Commerce Committee. The Senate companion – SB 50 – by Senator Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) is awaiting consideration on the Senate floor.
Protecting Consumers Against Pandemic-related Fraud
HB 9 by Representative Ardian Zika (R-Land O’Lakes) would define "personal protective equipment"; prohibit dissemination of false or misleading information relating to personal protective equipment with specified intent; prohibit dissemination of false or misleading vaccine information with specified intent; authorize state attorney or statewide prosecutor to prosecute violation; authorize AG to seek civil remedies. The bill has been passed by the full House and is waiting for action on the Senate bill. The Senate companion – SB 1608 – by Senator Aaron Bean (R-Jacksonville) unanimously passed the Senate Criminal Justice Committeeon Tuesday and awaits its final hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.
Zoological and Aquarium Grant Program
HB 1175 by Representative Jason Fischer (R-Jacksonville) would authorize DEO to establish grant program for support of zoos & aquariums located within state; provide eligibility requirements; authorizes use of grant funds for certain purposes; require DEO to adopt rules; provide that DEO has final grant approval authority. The bill is awaiting its first hearing in the House Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee. The Senate companion – SB 1312 by Senator Jennifer Bradley – unanimously passed the Senate Commerce & Tourism Committee on Monday, March 22.
HB 7013 by Representative Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill) would create cause of action against social media platform for unlawful practices related to censoring deplatforming or shadow banning; specify instances when private cause of action may be brought; specify calculation of damages; specify powers of DLA related to investigations of social media platforms; provide requirements for public contracts & economic incentives related to entities who have been convicted or held civilly liable for antitrust violations; require DMS to maintain antitrust violator vendor list; provide procedural & legal rights for person to challenge placement on list; prohibit person on antitrust violator vendor list from receiving certain economic incentives; prohibit social media platforms from knowingly deplatforming candidate; specify fines. The bill passed the House Appropriations Committee by a vote of 19-8 on Monday. The Senate companion – SB 520 – by Senator Danny Burgess (R-Zephryhills) is awaiting its first hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Cultural and Historical Programs
HB 909 by Representative Tyler Sirois (R-Merritt Island) would designate the Museum of Florida History as the official state history museum; rename the Division of Cultural Affairs as the Division of Arts & Culture; transfer certain responsibilities from Division of Cultural Affairs to Division of Historical Resources; revise provisions relating to Museum of Florida History museum store; provide for disposition of abandoned property. The bill unanimously passed the House Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday. The Senate companion – SB 1404 – by Senator Ed Hooper is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday, March 23.
Tourism Marketing Entities
HB 675 by Representative Rene Plasencia (R-Orlando) would authorize the Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation – VISIT FLORIDA - to carry forward unexpended state appropriations into succeeding fiscal years; abrogate the repeal of provisions establishing Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation, direct-support organization of Enterprise Florida, Inc., & Division of Tourism Marketing within Enterprise Florida, Inc. The bill is awaiting its first hearing in the House Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee. The Senate companion – SB 778 – by Senator Ed Hooper is awaiting its final hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
HB 219 by Representative Jason Fischer (R-Jacksonville) would require advertising platforms to collect & remit specified taxes imposed for certain transactions; preempt regulation of vacation rentals to the state; prohibit 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 and require licenses issued by Division of Hotels & Restaurants of DBPR to be displayed conspicuously to the public inside the licensed establishment. The House bill was temporarily postponed in the House Ways & Means Committee on Monday, March 22. The Senate companion – SB 522 – by Senator Manny Diaz is awaiting its final stop in the Senate Rules Committee.
2021 LEGISLATIVE SESSION SCHEDULE
January 11 – January 15, 2021 1st Interim Committee Week
January 25 – January 29, 2021 2nd Interim Committee Week
February 1 – February 5, 2021 3rd Interim Committee Week
February 8 – February 12, 2021 4th Interim Committee Week
February 15 – February 19, 2021 5th Interim Committee Week
March 2, 2021 Regular Session Convenes
April 20, 2021 Last Day for Regular Committee MeetingsApril 30, 2021 Last Day of Regular Session