With only ten days remaining in the 2021 Legislative Session, the House and Senate are beginning a tug-of-war on a number of policy and budget issues. On Friday night, the House and Senate held a budget conference organizational meeting with Senator Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) being elected Chair and Representative Jay Trumbull (R-Panama City) being elected Vice Chair of the 2021 Budget Conference. Over the weekend and throughout Monday, the budget conference committees met to negotiate allocations and budget items. The committees have approximately $36 billion in general revenue to allocate, with many programs and local funding requests to be negotiated. Lawmakers and advocates will continue to fight to ensure that their respective legislative priorities are funded. The House and Senate must agree on a balanced budget before the FY 2021-22 proposed budget can be presented to Governor Ron DeSantis. Governor DeSantis maintains line-item veto authority and will have the ability to make cuts to the proposed budget if he chooses. VISIT FLORIDA is a hot topic of debate, as the House and Senate have agreed to fund the tourism marketing agency at $50 million during FY 2021-22. However, the chambers disagree on whether to dedicate the $50 million on a recurring or nonrecurring basis. The House is pushing for the dollars to be nonrecurring, while the Senate would like the appropriation to be a stable, recurring item.
Additionally, a number of policy bills have the Legislature's support but will need an extra push to get across the finish line. With Sine Die on the horizon, the House and Senate will continue bargaining over key legislation in hopes to get their priorities signed into law.
Below is a summary of bills 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 and authorized uses of tourist development taxes (TDT) and convention development taxes (CDT). The bill passed the House floor by a vote of 114-2 on Wednesday and has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration. The Senate companion – SB 2008 – by Senator Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah Gardens) awaits its first hearing in the Senate Community Affairs Committee. Additionally, the House tax package - HB 7061 – contains the provisions of HB 1429 that would expand allowable uses of TDT dollars to finance flood mitigation projects. We have been actively fighting the attack on this money and have assisted FAA in drafting letters of opposition and calls-to-action for their members. HB 7061 passed the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday by a vote of 15-1 and now moves to the House floor. We continue to advocate against any legislation that would divert money away from the tourism and attractions industries.
Consumer Data Privacy
HB 969 by Representative Fiona McFarland (R-Sarasota) would require businesses to provide notice to consumers about data collection and selling practices; provide consumers with the right to request data be disclosed, deleted, or corrected and to opt-in or opt-out of sale or sharing of such data; provide nondiscrimination measures, methods for requesting data and opting-in or opting-out of sale or sharing of such data, private cause of action and enforcement. The bill unanimously passed its final stop in the House Commerce Committee on Wednesday and moves to the House floor for consideration. The Senate companion – SB 1734 – by Senator Jennifer Bradley (R-Orange Park) 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 passed the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously on Thursday. The House companion – HB 7053– by Representative Mike Beltran (R-Valrico) unanimously passed the House Commerce Committee on Wednesday and awaits its next reference.
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 unanimously passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday. The House companion – HB 7055– by Representative Chris Latvala (R-Clearwater) passed the House Commerce Committee by a vote of 21-1 on Wednesday and awaits its next reference.
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. SB 148 – by Senator Jennifer Bradley (R-Orange Park) was substituted for HB 329 and passed the House floor by a vote of 115-1 on Wednesday. SB 148 is in Senate returning messages and awaiting consideration on the Senate floor.
Sales and 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 and 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 and records; provide
that marketplace seller is liable for sales tax collection and remittance; authorize marketplace providers and marketplace sellers to enter into agreements to recover certain taxes, interest and penalties; grant DOR settlement and compromise authority for marketplace sales; remove authority of DOR to negotiate collection allowance with certain dealers. The bill was signed into law by Governor DeSantis on Monday night.
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 consideration on the Senate floor.
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 and 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 awaits consideration on the House floor. The Senate companion – SB 7072 – by Senator Ray Rodrigues (R-Fort Myers) passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 19.
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 floor on Thursday and has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Senate companion – SB 1404 – by Senator Ed Hooper has passed all committees and awaits consideration on the Senate floor.
HB 219 by Representative Jason Fischer (R-Jacksonville) would require advertising platforms to collect and 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 and Restaurants of DBPR to be displayed conspicuously to the public inside the licensed establishment. The bill awaits its second hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee. The Senate companion – SB 522 – by Senator Manny Diaz is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday, April 20.