With only three weeks remaining in the 2021 Legislative Session, it is becoming clear which pieces of legislation are poised to make it across the finish line and which policy proposals are at risk of not becoming law. In addition to heated debate surrounding policy, both chambers are preparing to negotiate their respective budgets, as each chamber passed their proposed budgets this week. This lays the groundwork for the budget conference process, which will see the House and Senate engage in a “tug-of-war” over how to spend money during the 2021-22 fiscal year. Recent state revenue reports and the potential infusion of billions of dollars in federal stimulus funds could lessen the negative economic impact that many Floridians were afraid of.
Lion Country Safari Vice President & FAA Board Member Jennifer Berthiaume’s op-ed was published in the Palm Beach Post this week. In her article, Jennifer discussed the importance to TDT dollars and the positive impact that these funds make on the tourism industry. She explains that this money contributes to local services such as affordable housing, infrastructure, education and public safety, which result in tax revenue, employment opportunities and affordable resident service. While the tourism industry has felt the brunt of COVID-19, the strength of the industry moving forward will dictate the economic wellbeing within the state. With hospitality jobs in Palm Beach County down by an estimated 20%, visitor spending down 20% and restaurant and hotel revenue down by 33% & 38%, respectively, the industry is in need to TDT dollars. Now is not the right time to divert money away from tourism promotion, and it is the wrong time for the Legislature to strip the tourism industry of critical resources.
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 is scheduled to be heard on the House floor this week. The Senate companion – SB 2008 – by Senator Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah Gardens) awaits its first hearing in the Senate Community Affairs Committee. Liberty Partners of Tallahassee understands the importance of preserving TDT dollars and is fighting for FAA and their members. We will continue to reach out to legislators on FAA’s behalf in opposition to these two bills and will work closely with FAA and their members to defeat this bad legislation. To email your legislator and let them know how important the preservation of TDT dollars are to the state’s tourism industry, click here.
Consumer Data Privacy
HB 969 by Representative Fiona McFarland (R-Sarasota) would require businesses to provide notice to consumers about data collection & selling practices; provide consumers with the right to request data be disclosed, deleted, or corrected & to opt-in or opt-out of sale or sharing of such data; provide nondiscrimination measures, methods for requesting data & opting-in or opting-out of sale or sharing of such data, private cause of action, & enforcement. The House bill is awaiting its final hearing in the House Commerce Committee. The Senate companion – SB 1734 – by Senator Jennifer Bradley (R-Orange Park) passed the Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday, April 6 and awaits consideration on the Senate floor.
SB 7076 by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) would create the Florida Gaming Control Commission within the Office of the Attorney General; provide for membership of the commission; require the Commission on Ethics to accept and investigate any alleged violations of the standards of conduct for commissioners; designate the Florida Gaming Control Commission as the state compliance agency having authority to carry out certain responsibilities; transfer all powers, duties, functions, records, offices, personnel, property, pending issues, existing contracts, administrative authority, administrative rules, trust funds, and unexpended balances of appropriations, allocations, and other funds of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to the commission by a type two transfer, etc. The Senate bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee on Monday, April 12. There is no House companion at this time.
Requirements for Pari-mutuel Permitholders to Conduct Live Racing or Games
SB 7080 by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) would revise the application requirements for an operating license to conduct pari-mutuel wagering for a pari-mutuel facility; prohibit greyhound permitholders from conducting live racing; authorize jai alai permitholders, harness horse racing permitholders, and quarter horse racing permitholders to elect not to conduct live racing or games; specify that certain permitholders that do not conduct live racing or games retain their permit and remain pari-mutuel facilities, etc. The Senate bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee on Monday, April 12. There is no House companion at this time.
Alcoholic Beverage Licenses
HB 329by 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 is awaiting full consideration on the House floor. The Senate companion - SB 148 – by Senator Jennifer Bradley (R-Orange Park) is awaiting full consideration on the Senate floor.
Sales & Use Tax
SB 50 – by Senator Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) 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 bill has passed the House and Senate and awaits being signed into law by Governor DeSantis.
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 the Senate Rules Committee, and is awaiting a vote on the Senate floor.
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 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 – awaits its second committee stop in the Senate Transportation, Tourism & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee.
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 House bill has passed each committee reference and awaits consideration on the House floor. The Senate companion – SB 7072 – by Senator Ray Rodrigues (R-Fort Myers) is awaiting its final hearing in the Senate Appropriations 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 awaits consideration on the House floor. The Senate companion – SB 1404 – by Senator Ed Hooper is awaiting a final hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
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 bill awaits its second hearing in the House Ways & Means Committee. The Senate companion – SB 522 – by Senator Manny Diaz is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday, April 14.
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 Meetings
April 30, 2021 Last Day of Regular Session