With the 2021 Legislative Session nearly halfway over, attention is beginning to turn to several key policy issues and crafting the FY 2021-22 state budget. To date, more than 3,000 bills have been filed, although many will not make it through the legislative process.
The state’s spending plan for FY 2021-22 is on the forefront of everyone’s mind in the political process. The Senate has announced a $95 billion proposed budget that would fund programs related to the state’s child welfare system, education system and health care. The House proposal is more than $2 billion higher than the Senate’s, with the House proposing $97.1 billion in spending during the state’s next fiscal year. The proposed House budget focuses on education, environmental protection and affordable housing. The chambers must work together during the next month to negotiate a balanced budget that will be presented to Governor Ron DeSantis for final approval.
On Friday, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 21-79, which lowers the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility age to 40 years beginning on Monday, March 29 and to 18 on Monday, April 5. Florida is making significant progress in the fight against the pandemic, as more Floridians are being vaccinated each day and tourists are beginning to travel to our state once again.
Liberty Partners of Tallahassee President Jennifer Green joined FAA’s Board of Directors meeting virtually on Wednesday. Jennifer provided Board members with a legislative update and discussed the status of FAA’s legislative priorities. She also touched on the work that our firm has done on behalf of FAA in opposition to any legislation that redirects the allowable usage of tourist development tax dollars.
Below is a summary of bills that have been filed that are of interest to the Florida Attractions Association (FAA):
Tourist and Convention Development Taxes
HB 1429 by Representative Bryan Avila (R-Miami) would revise provisions concerning voting procedures for & authorized uses of tourist development taxes (TDT) & convention development taxes (CDT). The bill passed its final stop in the House State Affairs Committee on Monday by a vote of 21-2, with Representatives Rick Roth (R-Palm Beach Gardens) and David Smith (R-Winter Springs) voting in opposition. During the committee meeting, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee President Jennifer Green addressed committee members on behalf of FAA and spoke in opposition of HB 1429. During her testimony, Jennifer highlighted the importance of preserving TDT dollars for tourism marketing & promotion. She also noted the value of these dollars to FAA members and that many attractions rely on this money to promote their respective facilities and our state. We are thankful that Representatives Roth & D. Smith understand the importance of the TDT and see the need for TDT dollars to fulfill their intended purpose. While flood mitigation is a laudable goal, now is not the time to expand the uses of TDT dollars.
The Senate companion – SB 2008 – by Senator Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah Gardens) is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Community Affairs Committee on Tuesday. Our firm continues to advocate against the dangerous redirection of TDT & CDT dollars on behalf of FAA and its members. We have assisted FAA in drafting “call-to-actions” for their members and letters of opposition to send to their respective legislative delegations. We will continue to draft letters of opposition before each committee stop and send these letters to each committee member ahead of the meetings, urging the committee members to vote “no” on SB 2008. Additionally, our firm will speak on behalf of FAA in opposition to the expanded uses of TDT dollars during each committee hearing. Your effort to protect these dollars does not go unnoticed. To email your legislator and let them know how important the preservation of TDT dollars are to the state’s tourism industry, click here.
Consumer Data Privacy
HB 969 by Representative Fiona McFarland (R-Sarasota) would require businesses to provide notice to consumers about data collection & selling practices; provide consumers with the right to request data be disclosed, deleted, or corrected & to opt-in or opt-out of sale or sharing of such data; provide nondiscrimination measures, methods for requesting data & opting-in or opting-out of sale or sharing of such data, private cause of action, & enforcement. The House bill is awaiting its final hearing in the House Commerce Committee. The Senate companion – SB 1734 – by Senator Jennifer Bradley (R-Orange Park) is awaiting its final hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.
Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19
SB 72 by Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) would provide requirements for civil action based on COVID-19-related claim; provide that the plaintiff has burden of proof in such action and provide a statute of limitations. The legislation passed the House floor on Friday and awaits final consideration on the Senate floor.
HB 1317by Representative Chip LaMarca (R-Lighthouse Point) would authorize wagers on sports events; provide duties of Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering; authorize application to division for license to operate sports pool; require annual renewal of license; prohibit sports pools from being offered by anyone other
than division or licensee; specify requirements for accepting wagers; authorize provision of benefits to induce wagering; require background checks for licensee employees; prohibit & require adoption of procedures to prevent certain persons from wagering; prohibit accepting wagers from certain persons; provide for distribution of unclaimed winnings; require deposit of certain penalties into DBPR's Pari-mutuel Wagering Trust Fund. The bill is awaiting its first hearing in the House Regulatory Reform Subcommittee. The Senate companion – SB 392– by Senator Jeff Brandes is awaiting its first committee stop in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.
Alcoholic Beverage Licenses
HB 329by Representative Josie Tomkow (R-Auburndale) would authorize food service establishments to sell or deliver alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption if requirements are met; revise provisions that authorize restaurant to allow patrons to remove partially consumed bottles of wine from restaurant for off-premises consumption; revise requirements for sale of alcoholic beverages by certain vendors. The bill has passed all of its committee references and awaits consideration on the House floor. The Senate companion – SB 134 – by Senator Jeff Brandes is still awaiting its first stop in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. A related bill – SB 148 – by Senator Jennifer Bradley (R-Orange Park) has passed each of its committees and awaits a hearing on the Senate floor.
Sales & Use Tax
HB 15 by Representative Chuck Clemons (R-Jonesville) would revise conditions for certain dealers subject to sales tax; delete exemption for certain dealers from collecting local option surtaxes; provide certain marketplace providers are subject to registration, collection, & remittance requirements for sales
taxes; require marketplace providers to provide certification to marketplace sellers; specify requirements for marketplace sellers; require marketplace providers to allow DOR to audit books & records; provide
that marketplace seller is liable for sales tax collection & remittance; authorize marketplace providers & marketplace sellers to enter into agreements to recover certain taxes, interest, & penalties; grant DOR settlement & compromise authority for marketplace sales; remove authority of DOR to negotiate collection allowance with certain dealers. The House bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Commerce Committee on Monday, March 29. The Senate companion – SB 50 – by Senator Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) passed the Senate floor and is awaiting action in the House.
Protecting Consumers Against Pandemic-related Fraud
HB 9 by Representative Ardian Zika (R-Land O’Lakes) would define "personal protective equipment"; prohibit dissemination of false or misleading information relating to personal protective equipment with specified intent; prohibit dissemination of false or misleading vaccine information with specified intent; authorize state attorney or statewide prosecutor to prosecute violation; authorize AG to seek civil remedies. The bill has been passed by the full House and is awaiting action by the Senate. The Senate companion – SB 1608 – by Senator Aaron Bean (R-Jacksonville) awaits its final hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.
Zoological and Aquarium Grant Program
HB 1175 by Representative Jason Fischer (R-Jacksonville) would authorize DEO to establish grant program for support of zoos & aquariums located within state; provide eligibility requirements; authorizes
use of grant funds for certain purposes; require DEO to adopt rules; provide that DEO has final grant approval authority. The bill is awaiting its first hearing in the House Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee. The Senate companion – SB 1312 by Senator Jennifer Bradley – awaits its second committee stop in the Senate Transportation, Tourism & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee.
HB 7013 by Representative Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill) would create cause of action against social media platform for unlawful practices related to censoring deplatforming or shadow banning; specify instances when private cause of action may be brought; specify calculation of damages; specify powers of DLA related to investigations of social media platforms; provide requirements for public contracts & economic incentives related to entities who have been convicted or held civilly liable for antitrust violations; require DMS to maintain antitrust violator vendor list; provide procedural & legal rights for person to challenge placement on list; prohibit person on antitrust violator vendor list from receiving certain economic incentives; prohibit social media platforms from knowingly deplatforming candidate; specify fines. The House bill awaits its second hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. The Senate companion – SB 520 – by Senator Danny Burgess (R-Zephryhills) has yet to receive a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Cultural and Historical Programs
HB 909 by Representative Tyler Sirois (R-Merritt Island) would designate the Museum of Florida History as the official state history museum; rename the Division of Cultural Affairs as the Division of Arts & Culture; transfer certain responsibilities from Division of Cultural Affairs to Division of Historical
Resources; revise provisions relating to Museum of Florida History museum store; provide for disposition of abandoned property. The bill unanimously passed the House State Affairs Committee this week and awaits consideration on the House floor. The Senate companion – SB 1404 – by Senator Ed Hooper is awaiting a final hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Tourism Marketing Entities
HB 675 by Representative Rene Plasencia (R-Orlando) would authorize the Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation – VISIT FLORIDA - to carry forward unexpended state appropriations into succeeding fiscal years; abrogate the repeal of provisions establishing Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation, direct-support organization of Enterprise Florida, Inc., & Division of Tourism Marketing within Enterprise Florida, Inc. The bill is awaiting its first hearing in the House Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee. The Senate companion – SB 778 – by Senator Ed Hooper is awaiting its final hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
HB 219 by Representative Jason Fischer (R-Jacksonville) would require advertising platforms to collect & remit specified taxes imposed for certain transactions; preempt regulation of vacation rentals to the state; prohibit a local law, ordinance, or regulation from allowing or requiring inspections or licensing of public lodging establishments, including vacation rentals, or public food service establishments and require licenses issued by Division of Hotels & Restaurants of DBPR to be displayed conspicuously to
the public inside the licensed establishment. The House bill was temporarily postponed in the House Ways & Means Committee on March 22. The Senate companion – SB 522 – by Senator Manny Diaz is awaiting its final stop in the Senate Rules Committee.
2021 LEGISLATIVE SESSION SCHEDULE
January 11 – January 15, 2021 1st Interim Committee Week
January 25 – January 29, 2021 2nd Interim Committee Week
February 1 – February 5, 2021 3rd Interim Committee Week
February 8 – February 12, 2021 4th Interim Committee Week
February 15 – February 19, 2021 5th Interim Committee Week
March 2, 2021 Regular Session Convenes
April 20, 2021 Last Day for Regular Committee Meetings
April 30, 2021 Last Day of Regular Session
We will continue to monitor these issues for FAA members and provide regular updates.