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2023 Florida Legislative Session Overview
The 2023 Legislative Session came to a timely close, adjourning Sine Die before noon on Friday, May 5th. Our government affairs team successfully engaged with legislators, administrators, stakeholders, and partners to monitor and advocate for numerous bills impacting our tourism and travel industry, protecting and advancing GMBHA's interests.

SB 2500, the legislature's proposed state budget for the 2023-2024 FY, totals $117 billion and remains subject to line-item approval by Governor Ron DeSantis.

Visit Florida
The 2023-24 General Appropriations Act allocates $80 million for Visit Florida, a record high representing a 60% increase over the current fiscal year budget of $50 million. $5 million of the total is provided to develop marketing for nature-based tourism and trails.

Tourist Development Tax
HB 7053 failed to pass during this legislative session. Our government affairs team was successful in advocating to oppose this legislation that would have completely reworked that way that tourism marketing operates in our state and catastrophically impacted our industry.

This bill would have prohibited state funding for Visit Florida, required counties to remit 5% of TDT collections to fund Visit Florida (2% for rural counties), required that 75% of Visit Florida spending be used to promote rural counties or trails, eliminated the rental car surcharge, expanded the use of TDT funds for myriad unrelated uses, required that all TDT levied be reauthorized by a referendum every six years, and disrupted cooperative marketing between Visit Florida and local DMO programs.

The bill was filed in the House and was heard in one committee. It was not considered further after that committee hearing and a Senate bill was not filed on the subject. We expect that legislators will continue to look at TDT revenues in future legislative sessions as a potential dedicated funding source for Visit Florida or other uses, rather than general revenue, and we will remain vigilant and engaged with leaders in both chambers.

Tax Package
HB 7063 was passed by both chambers and is awaiting the Governor's signature. This legislation changes statutes to require that local tax referendums are held during general elections, removes the ability for County Commissions to authorize additional TDT pennies, and requires a referendum to approve each new penny of TDT levied by a county. Previously, additional TDT pennies could be levied by the governing board of a county.

These changes will not impact Miami-Dade, as the county already levies all TDT pennies authorized by state statute. In addition, this legislation authorizes up to 10% of TDT funds to reimburse for the tourism impact of public safety and lifeguards for coastal fiscally constrained counties.

Vacation Rentals
SB 714 / HB 833 failed to pass during this legislative session. These bills would have preempted platform regulation to DBPR: requiring platforms to register with the state, collect TDT from renters, confirm that all listings are fully licensed and display the license number on all advertisements, and timely remove all listings that do not comply with local and state regulations.

In addition, the bills would have authorized local governments to require vacation rentals to be registered for a local license, set and enforce occupancy limits as well as parking and solid waste standards, and levy penalties or rescind the local licenses of listings that fail to comply with local and state regulations or fail to pay local code liens.

Enterprise Florida
HB 5 was passed by both chambers and is awaiting the Governor's signature. This bill eliminates Enterprise Florida, rebrands the Department of Economic Opportunity as the Department of Commerce, and preserves Visit Florida and the Florida Sports Foundation under the Dept. of Commerce. This legislation will have no discernable impact on the day-to-day operations of VISIT FLORIDA, according to President and CEO Dana Young.

Various other programs and incentives were repealed, including the Motorsports Entertainment Complex, Professional Golf Hall of Fame, International Game Fish Association World Center, Office of Film and Entertainment, and Florida Film Advisory Council.

SB 1718 was passed by both chambers and signed by Governor DeSantis into law. This legislation requires that all employers use E-Verify to confirm that all employees hired as of July 1st, 2023 have legal authorization to work in the US. Employers caught hiring staff who do not have legal authorization to work in this country will face fines and penalties including business license suspensions, however there will be no criminal penalty repercussions. An employee who presents fraudulent identification documents to an employer faces third degree felony charges.

The bill also defines "human smuggling" as any person who knowingly and willfully transports into this state an individual whom the person knows, or reasonably should know, has entered the United States in violation of law and has not been inspected by the Federal Government since his or her unlawful entry from another country. Any person who does so commits a felony of the third degree (with the punishment escalating if 5 or more separate offenses are committed).

Historical Preservation
HB 1317 / SB 1346 failed to pass during this legislative session. This bill would have prohibited local officials from blocking the demolition of buildings designated as unsafe if they were within the coastal construction control line — the line the state uses to limit construction to protect beaches — or if they don’t meet federal standards that call for flood-resistant materials and elevated structures in vulnerable areas, with the exception of a relative few listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Because virtually no historic buildings conform to those rules, preservationists warned the bills would spell “the end of historic preservation in coastal Florida.” This bill would have impacted Art Deco buildings on Ocean Drive that are historically designated by the City of Miami Beach.

Upcoming Interim Committee Weeks & Session Dates
House and Senate Leadership have released their respective dates for the Fall 2023 Interim Committee Weeks and the 2024 Regular Session. The 2024 Regular Session will convene on Tuesday, January 9, 2024.

Senate Committee Weeks:
October 9-13 and 16-20, November 6-9 and 13-17, December 4-7 and 11-15

House Committee Weeks:
September 18-22, October 16-20, November 6-9 and 13-17, December 4-7 and 11-15

Our advocacy team works with our members and partners to understand regulatory requirements and advise them on strategies to better achieve public policy goals.

Armando Ibarra
Ai Advisory Inc.
(786) 514-2965

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