Florida Attractions Association


Apr 26, 2013 2:00 PM  CST  

LEGISLATIVE ALERT: Florida Senate’s “Money Grab” will Harm Local and State Tourism Promotion 

Florida Senate’s “Money Grab” will Harm Local and State Tourism Promotion

Dear FAA Member,

Will you reach out to tourism colleagues in your area to place calls to your State Representative as soon as possible?  We must STOP the Florida Senate’s money grab of our local tourism development tax proceeds.

All you'll need is a simple message such as:  Vote against the Senate amendment to expand the uses of bed tax for lifeguards.

Look up your State Representative here.

Your State Representative is aware of the issue, now we need to fill-up their call log with concerned citizens from their home district to make this a priority.

Yesterday, the Senate amended to SB 1828 expanding the allowable uses of Tourist Development Taxes to include lifeguards for any county with a population of less than 250,000.  Then, they then passed the bill to the next step in the process.

We expected this.  It’s unlikely that a member of the Senate would rise against the Senate President when he has gone on the record in the Orlando Sentinel as supportive of a proposal.  Currently, this bill is positioned as a “local choice” issue, giving county government more discretion for determining how to fund their local priorities.

However, your calls and emails ARE working.  We have been in contact with several lawmakers in the House and they report a lot of positive calls from you.  It’s critical that you keep it up.

This bill still has to be heard one more time in the Senate before it moves to the House.  The House will likely take up this bill on Monday or Tuesday of next week.  That gives you the rest of today and the weekend to make contact with all members of the House from your community.

If you’ve already sent an email, it’s important for you to call.  If you’ve called, please call again.  If you have a close relationship with your Representative and have his or her cell phone number, please dial it.  Ask individuals throughout the tourism industry to do the same.

Here are talking points with members of the House of Representatives:

HB 7105 by Caldwell is a good bill.  The Senate companion (SB 1828), however, includes an amendment that allows counties to redirect Tourist Development Taxes to fund lifeguards.

The Senate’s amendment (SB 1828 lines 66-118) hurts Florida’s economy by:

  • Damaging a community's ability to attract visitors in a competitive market for visitors.
  • Violating the agreement with hoteliers, who agreed to be taxed in exchange for the assurance that the proceeds would only be used on programs and facilities that attract visitors to their communities.
  • Compromising VISIT FLORIDA’s ability to conduct marketing programs on behalf of Florida as Tourist Development Councils are one of the key partners that provide funding for cooperative marketing programs.

Ask members of the House of Representatives to keep HB 7105 intact, to pass the current version of the House bill and refuse to accept the Senate’s amendments which will damage Florida’s ability to continue to recover, add more jobs and grow Florida’s economy.

I know you’ve got a lot of things to do.  However, this is a real threat and if this passes, it’ll only be the beginning.  Allowing this language to pass creates a precedent of using Tourist Development Tax money on public safety expenditures.  Once that door opens, a whole “party” of additional proposals will push their way through.

Make a stand this weekend.  Call every member of your county’s House delegation.  Ask members of your county’s tourism industry to do the same.  If you need the list, please let me know.

This bill is supported by the Senate President and has a good chance of passing.  Your calls and emails have already started to help.  Don’t stop now, it’s time to ramp-up our efforts.

Thank you,

Bill

 

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For additional information on this Newsletter article, please contact:

Brandon Johnson

Source: Brandon Johnson
http://www.floridaattractions.org

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