The Legislature convened in Tallahassee December 9-13 for the sixth and final Interim Committee Week. With less than a month before the 2020 Legislative Session begins on January 14, 2020, Liberty Partners continues to monitor impactful legislation and advocate on behalf of the Florida Attractions Association (FAA).
Please find Liberty Partners’ monthly report below detailing the work our firm has done on behalf of FAA.
On December 11, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) Executive Director Ken Lawson presented Governor DeSantis’ budget proposal for the agency to the House Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee. During the presentation, Lawson highlighted the Governor’s request for VISIT FLORIDA to be funded at $50 million for FY 2020-21. Later that afternoon, Lawson provided the Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee with the presentation and once again highlighted the request for VISIT FLORIDA to be funded at $50 million during the next fiscal year. Liberty Partners was present during both subcommittee meetings and provided FAA with a detailed meeting summary upon adjournment.
Legislation that would reauthorize VISIT FLORIDA and extend the marketing agency’s sunset provision from 2020 until 2028 unanimously passed the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee. SB 362 by Senator Ed Hooper (R-Palm Harbor) is now awaiting a hearing in its second committee stop – the Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee. The House companion - HB 213 - by Representative Mel Ponder (R-Fort Walton Beach) is still awaiting a hearing in the House Workforce Development and Tourism Subcommittee. Liberty Partners continues to work with FAA to secure cosponsors for this legislation and continues to provide FAA with regular updates regarding this legislation.
Minimum Wage Constitutional Amendment
A proposed constitutional amendment that would raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15/hour has received approval to appear on the 2020 General Election ballot in November. If the measure is approved by 60% of the voters, Florida’s minimum wage would increase to $10/hour on September 30, 2021 and would increase by $1/hour each year until reaching $15/hour. Liberty Partners continues to track this constitutional amendment and the potential impact that it could have on FAA members. Liberty Partners will continue to provide updates and insight on this proposal to FAA as the 2020 General Election approaches.
On November 21, Liberty Partners joined FAA at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo in Orlando. We were proud to sponsor the FAA Networking Breakfast hosted by the FAA Board of Directors and have Representative Scott Plakon (R-Longwood) and Representative David Smith (R-Winter Springs) join us for the breakfast and exhibit tour. Liberty Partners looks forward to working with both of these legislators to advance FAA’s legislative priorities.
Liberty Partners attended the Florida Justice Reform Institute (FJRI) Luncheon on December 9. William Large with FJRI walked through the following FJRI legislative priorities for the 2020 Legislative Session:
• Accuracy in Damages
• Bad Faith – SB 924 Civil Actions Against Insurers
• End deceptive lawyer advertising
• Prohibit litigation financing
• Contingency Fee Multiplier
• Assignment of Benefits in Auto Glass – SB 312/HB 169
• Asbestos Transparency – HB 741
• Federal standard for summary judgement
• Appellate Living Facility/Nursing Home Reforms – SB 402/HB 767 and HB 6029
• Workers’ Compensation
• PIP Insurance – SB 378/HB 771
Liberty Partners will provide updates to FAA as these bills make their way through the legislative process and will inform FAA of any potential impacts as a result of this legislation.
Liberty Partners distributed ‘welcome back’ letters on behalf of FAA to all Representatives and Senators on December 12. In the letter, FAA’s background is provided, as well as their position on tourism and VISIT FLORIDA. The letter also urges lawmakers to vote yes on the repeal of the VISIT FLORIDA sunset provision and to consider cosponsoring SB 362 and HB 213. Liberty Partners will await questions or responses from legislators prompted by the letter and will work with FAA to respond to these questions or responses.
Liberty Partners assisted FAA with drafting a legislative action alert to send to FAA members in December. The alert provides FAA members with a background of VISIT FLORIDA and the critical role it plays in the tourism and attraction industry. The call to action also urges FAA members to contact their legislators and request that they cosponsor SB 362 and HB 213. Liberty Partners will inform FAA if any legislators respond to the action alert.
Liberty Partners has created an Appropriation Project Requests (APR) folder in FAA’s Lobbytools account, with numerous APRs related to tourism, museums and historical sites included. We will continue to track these requests and update FAA as they move through the budget process.
Liberty Partners also continues to track policy bills of interest to FAA that have been filed for the 2020 Legislative Session. Several of these bills and a brief summary of the bills are included in the weekly legislative update that is forwarded to FAA at the end of each committee week. We will continue to include any action taken on these bills in our weekly summary and bring any impactful bills to FAA’s attention.
The House Gaming Control Subcommittee met for the first time on December 12. During the meeting, Director of the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, Lou Trombetta, gave the committee an overview of the gaming industry, constitutional amendments that passed in 2018, changes to permitting and new gaming information.
Following this presentation, John Sowinski of No Casinos, Inc., Carey Theil of Grey2k USA, Jamie C. Shelton of Bestbet Jacksonville, Michael Glenn of Palm Beach Kennel Club, Isadore Havenick of Magic City Casino and Peter Berube of Tampa Bay Downs participated in a panel discussion on issues surrounding gaming in the state. Panelists spoke about the impacts of Amendments 3 and 13 passed in November 2018 and the current landscape of gaming. Sowinski – an opponent of gaming expansion – stated, “We hope that in 30 years, the footprint of gambling looks as it does now. We want to keep it from growing too much and voters continue to choose each time they are asked the question.” Committee members also inquired as to how they can do a better job and what steps can be taken to ensure that internet cafes stay eliminated. The consensus among panelists was that most issues come down to local enforcement. This topic will likely continue being discussed during the upcoming legislative session.
Liberty Partners also continues to track legislation by Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) that could potentially expand gaming in the state. SB 968, SB 970 and SB 972 could potentially impact the tourism industry in the state and Liberty Partners will continue to monitor.
Emotional Support Animals
A piece of legislation that is of importance to FAA is HB 209 by Representative Sam Killebrew (R-Winter Haven) that would prohibit discrimination in rental dwellings to people with a disability that requires an emotional support animal. The legislation would also prohibit a landlord from requiring the disabled person to pay extra compensation and authorizes the landlord to request certain written documentation. The bill has passed the House Civil Justice Subcommittee and awaits its next hearing in the House Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee. The Senate companion - SB 1084– by Senator Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah Gardens) is awaiting its first hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee.
FAA has brought to our attention that this bill seems to be in violation of federal law. We are working with Representative Killebrew and stakeholders to receive clarity on this issue and will update FAA on any developments with this legislation.
Important Upcoming Legislative Dates for the 2020 Regular Legislative Session
· January 10, 2020 All Member Bill Requests Deadline
· January 14, 2020 First Day of Session/Final Bill Filing Deadline
· January 22, 2020 Florida Tourism Day
· March 13, 2020 Last day of Regular Session