Legislative Report | August 2019

September 06, 2019 9:30 AM | Anonymous

With summer having ended and the 2020 Legislative Session quickly approaching, the months leading up to the start of session on January 14, 2020, will include legislators coming to Tallahassee to hold Interim Committee meetings. These committee meeting weeks will be held on the following dates:

  • Monday, September 16 – Friday, September 20, 2019
  • Monday, October 14 – Friday, October 18, 2019
  • Monday, October 21 – Friday, October 25, 2019
  • Monday, November 4 – Friday, November 8, 2019
  • Tuesday, November 12 – Friday, November 15, 2019
  • Monday, December 9 – Friday, December 13, 2019

Below you will find an update on key developments that are taking place throughout the state this summer that will potentially impact Florida’s tourism industry.

Minimum Wage Increase
In an attempt to raise Florida’s minimum wage, Florida attorney John Morgan has begun the process to put a proposed Constitutional Amendment before voters on the November 2020 ballot. If passed, the proposal would gradually raise the statewide minimum wage from its current $8.46/hour to $15/hour. Under the proposal, the 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 measure, “Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage” would have a negative financial impact as local and state costs would increase in order to comply with the minimum wage. The proposal has gained traction throughout the state, with Morgan contributing almost $1.075 million to the effort last month alone. However, there are still hurdles that must be cleared before the amendment can appear before voters. The initiative has currently received and verified 665,369 of the 766,200 petition signatures required by February 1, 2020. The Florida Supreme Court must also approve the ballot language before the amendment can move forward. Please see the screen shots of the amendment status below. Liberty Partners continues to monitor this potential amendment and its impact on the state’s tourism industry.

Ballot Title: Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage

Ballot Summary:
Raises minimum wage to $10.00 per hour effective September 30th, 2021. Each September 30th thereafter, minimum wage shall increase by $1.00 per hour until the minimum wage reaches $15.00 per hour on September 30th, 2026. From that point forward, future minimum wage increases shall revert to being adjusted annually for inflation starting September 30th, 2027.

Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism
Due to Hurricane Dorian that was expected to hit the east coast of Florida, the Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism that was scheduled September 3-6, 2019 at the Boca Raton Resort & Club was cancelled and will be rescheduled for a later date. Once rescheduled it will give state officials, professionals from Florida’s tourism industry and other interested stakeholders the opportunity to be educated on issues and trends currently facing the tourism industry.

VISIT FLORIDA’s Eco-Friendly Travel Hub
Governor Ron DeSantis has shown that he is committed to preserving Florida's natural environment. In a mid-August announcement, the Governor introduced VISIT FLORIDA's newest feature, an eco-friendly travel hub. Tourists and locals can access the hub and view a variety of green options available to them such as eco-friendly travel, lodging, dining and attractions. A unique component of the hub is the inclusion of a "voluntourism" resource which will help connect tourists with volunteer opportunities while on vacation. VISIT FLORIDA is working to ensure that Florida remains a sustainable, environmentally-friendly destination for everyone by providing these options and tips.

Tourism Numbers
Florida is continuing its trend of breaking state tourism records. From January through June of 2019, an estimated 68.9 million visitors came to Florida which was a significant increase from the 66.28 million tourists that came during the same period in 2018. This growth in numbers predict that the state is on pace to break its 2018 record of 126.98 million visitors throughout the year.

Legislative Update
Recently, FAA President Matt Johnson and the Board voted to create a new Legislative Committee to assist with the legislative and regulatory priorities of the association. Liberty Partners is excited about the creation of this committee and looks forward to working with the members to bring more awareness and support to these important issues.

As discussed, with the lack of enthusiasm from FAA members regarding the VISIT FLORIDA issue, it is imperative that attractions are made more aware of the many other issues FAA could be focusing on and have been successful with over the past few years.

To work on this awareness among FAA members, Liberty Partners is continuing to assist with scheduling legislative visits at member attractions. In October, Liberty Partners has two educational events scheduled, one in Jacksonville and one in Orlando where a member of the Florida Legislature is expected to attend. We would like to combine these events with an FAA legislative visit and have the hosting attraction management and staff interact and speak with the legislator. We will provide more information on this as we continue to finalize the plans.

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