The pace picked up in Tallahassee as the Florida Legislature concluded their fourth Interim Committee Week of the 2020 Florida Legislative Session. Two Interim Committee Weeks remain: Week of November 12th and Week of December 9th.
On Tuesday, legislation that would extend VISIT FLORIDA’s scheduled sunset from 2020 until 2028 passed the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee. SB 362 by Senator Ed Hooper (R-Palm Harbor) drew unanimous support from the committee. Senators highlighted the strong return on investment that VISIT FLORIDA provides and the agency’s contribution to job creation and record tourism levels in the state. Senators also praised the efforts of VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO Dana Young and the job that she has done with a reduced budget. The bill also received widespread support from the public during the committee meeting, with more than 20 individuals waiving in support of the bill. Liberty Partners waived in support of the bill on behalf on the Florida Attractions Association (FAA) during the meeting.
Following is a quick summary of bills that have been filed and other items of interest to FAA:
FAA supports the reauthorization of VISIT FLORIDA and the extension of the agency’s sunset provision until 2028. Legislation in the Senate that would extend VISIT FLORIDA’s sunset provision until 2028 has moved forward.
SB 362 by Senator Ed Hooper (R-Palm Harbor) unanimously passed the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee on Tuesday and now moves to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development. The House companion measure, HB 213, by Representative Mel Ponder (R-Fort Walton Beach) is still awaiting 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 legislation is still awaiting its first hearing in the Senate Community Affairs Committee and does not have a House companion.
Cultural, Historical and Library Funding
Significant legislative funding for cultural, historical and library projects continue to be a top priority for Secretary of State Laurel Lee and the Department of State (DOS). Secretary Lee and DOS are requesting $5 million in funding for cultural and museum grants. She is also requesting that Cultural Builds Florida be funded at $3,132,250 while asking for $1,157,935 for historic preservation small matching grants.
The largest funding request is an ask of $10,301,287 for the construction of a new artifact curation facility. Current artifact collections housed at Mission San Luis in Tallahassee have reached maximum capacity. This requested funding would create a new, state-of-the-art public facility equipped with a lobby and teaching area. Whether or not the department’s funding requests will be included in the FY 2020-21 budget remains to be seen.
SB 206 by Senator Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) and HB 161 by Representative Jackie Toledo (RTampa) would prohibit discrimination in public lodging and food services establishments based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Known as the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, the bill would revise the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 and Fair Housing Act to include gender identity and sexual orientation. The Senate bill currently awaits a hearing in the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee, while the House bill is waiting to be heard in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee.
Prohibition of Plastic Carryout Bags and Straws
SB 40 by Senator Kevin Rader (D-Boca Raton) would ban stores from providing customers with plastic carryout bags and single-use plastic straws. The bill includes penalties of $500 for a first-time violation and $1,000 for subsequent violations. Individuals that must use plastic straws due to medical purposes would be exempted from this legislation. The Senate bill is in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee but does not have a House companion at this time.
Miami Military Museum and Memorial
An Appropriations Project Request that seeks funding for the Miami Military Museum and Memorial has been filed by Representative Anthony Rodriguez (R-Miami). HB 2063 requests $1 million in funding and passed the House Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee onWednesday. The bill now heads to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration.
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. Senator Gruters is hopeful that high-paying jobs will be created and that tourists will come to the state due to opportunities created by the program. Projects that are eligible for the rebate program must provide the highest return on investment and economic benefit to the state. The Senate bill is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee. A House companion, HB 497, by Representative James Buchanan (R-North Port) has been filed and referred to the House Workforce Development and Tourism Subcommittee.
SB 482 by Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) would eliminate 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 of the restaurant’s premises would also be changed under this law. A House companion, HB 583, by Representative Anthony Sabatini (R-Clermont) was filed on Thursday but has not yet been referred to any committees.
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 been referred to the House Business and Professions Subcommittee but has no Senate companion at this time.
SB 680 by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) would prohibit the importation, exportation, and sale of shark fins. The bill is currently awaiting a hearing in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. The House companion, HB 401, by Representative Kristin Jacobs (D-Coconut Creek) has been referred to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee.
Minimum Wage Constitutional Amendment
The proposed constitutional amendment that would increase Florida’s minimum wage to $15/hour has collected the required amount of signatures to appear on the 2020 General Election ballot in November. If passed by voters, Florida’s minimum wage would increase to $10/hour on September 30, 2021 and would increase by $1/hour in each subsequent year until reaching $15/hour. The ballot language is now awaiting final approval by the Supreme Court before appearing on the ballot.
2020 LEGISLATIVE SESSION SCHEDULE
September 16 – Friday, September 20, 2019: 1st Interim Committee Week
October 14 – Friday, October 18, 2019: 2nd Interim Committee Week
October 21 – Friday, October 25, 2019: 3rd Interim Committee Week
November 4 – Friday, November 8, 2019: 4th Interim Committee Week
November 12 – Friday, November 15, 2019: 5th Interim Committee Week
December 9 – Friday, December 13, 2019: 6th Interim Committee Week
January 14, 2020: Regular Session Convenes
March 3, 2020: Last Day for Regular Committee Meetings
March 13, 2020: Last Day of Regular Session