Most of the attention in Tallahassee last week was on the Senate’s ruling to uphold the suspension of former Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
In addition to this development, the third Interim Committee week of the 2020 Florida Legislative Session consisted of a full slate of committee meetings and presentations.
Last Wednesday, Bureau Chief of Workforce Statistics and Economic Research at the Department of Economic Opportunity, Adrienne Johnston, presented to the House Workforce Development and Tourism Subcommittee. Highlighted in Johnston’s presentation was the fact that while many people in Florida are employed, businesses struggle to find skilled workers. She also spoke on the future of employment in the state and which jobs could be impacted the most by automation. The accommodation and food service industries stand the highest chance of seeing impacts from automation, with 73% of jobs being potentially affected. According to the presentation, rural areas will see the highest impact of automation, while urban areas will be more diverse and will see jobs created by innovation. Johnston concluded her presentation by explaining that although Florida is currently seeing an influx of new residents from states in the Northeast, trends show Floridians are moving to areas such as Georgia, Texas and California.
Following is a quick summary of bills that have been filed and other items of interest to the Florida Attractions Association (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 and is waiting to be considered.
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 will be heard in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee on Tuesday, November 5 at 10:00 a.m. The House companion by Representative Mel Ponder (R-Fort Walton Beach), HB 213, has been referred to the House Workforce Development and Tourism Subcommittee, where it is awaiting a hearing.
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 has been referred to the Senate Community Affairs Committee but does not have a companion in the House.
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 San 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 lacks 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.
SB 530 by Senator Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) seeks to 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 yet to be referred to any committees, with no House companion filed at this time.
Minimum Wage Constitutional Amendment
A proposed constitutional amendment that would increase Florida’s minimum wage has received enough signatures to appear on the 2020 General Election ballot in November. If approved at the ballot box, 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. While the proposal has received the 766,200 signatures that are required, the ballot language must still be approved by the Supreme Court prior to appearing before voters.