With lawmakers back in Tallahassee for the second Interim Committee week of the 2020 Florida Legislative Session, last week was not dull. On Tuesday, VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO Dana Young gave a presentation to the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee where she highlighted the importance of VISIT FLORIDA to the state’s economy and noted the recent strong tourism numbers. Young also touted the marketing agency’s large return on investment and the role that the agency plays during crisis or natural disasters. The committee was receptive to Young’s presentation and praised the efforts that VISIT FLORIDA is making both domestically and abroad.
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 both the House and Senate that would extend VISIT FLORIDA’s sunset provision until 2028 has been filed.
SB 362 by Senator Ed Hooper (R-Palm Harbor) would reauthorize VISIT FLORIDA and extend the scheduled sunset of the tourism marketing agency from 2020 to 2028. This bill has been referred to the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee. The House companion by Representative Mel Ponder (R-Fort Walton Beach), HB 213, has been referred to 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. It has been referred to the Senate Community Affairs Committee but does not have a House companion.
Cultural, Historical and Library Funding
Secretary of State Laurel Lee and the Department of State (DOS) continue to seek significant funding for cultural, historical and library funding. The DOS is requesting $5 million in funding for cultural and museum grants. Secretary Lee is also requesting that Cultural Builds Florida be funded at $3,132,250 while setting aside $1,157,935 for historic preservation small matching grants.
The largest request from DOS is an ask of $10,301,287 for the construction of a new artifact curation facility. Current collections are housed at Mission St. Luis in Tallahassee, where maximum capacity has been reached. The requested funding would help create a new, public facility, fully-equipped with a lobby and teaching area. Included in their Legislative Budget Request, it remains to be seen if the department’s funding requests will be included in the FY 2020-21 budget.
SB 206 by Senator Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) and HB 161 by Representative Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa) would prohibit discrimination in public lodging and food services establishments based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Additionally, 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 awaits its first stop in the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee, while the House bill has been referred to the 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. An exemption is provided for those individuals that must use plastic straws due to medical purposes. The Senate bill has been referred to the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee but does not have a House companion at this time.
Miami Military Museum and Memorial
A bill 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 has been referred to the House Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee.
Filed on Wednesday, 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. By creating this program, Senator Gruters is hopeful that high-paying jobs will be created for Florida workers and that tourists will be encouraged to visit the state due to opportunities created by the program. Projects that provide the highest return on investment and economic benefit to the state will be eligible for the rebate program. The Senate bill has not been referred to any committees and does not have a House companion at this time.