2018 FRLA Legislative Issues
As Florida’s voice of the hospitality industry, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association continues to advocate for fair, reasonable, and balanced legislation that encourages continued growth for our industry and the state.
To share insight into the issues we face, we have highlighted the following topics that we feel are critical to your businesses and to the community.
VISIT FLORIDA Funding
With 88 million visitors in the first three-quarters of the year, 2017 is on track to be the seventh consecutive record year for Florida tourism. VISIT FLORIDA, acting as the state’s official tourism marketing corporation, is the catalyst that brings the public and private sectors together to create programs that promote the Sunshine State to travelers around the globe.
Each year, the Florida Legislature appropriates public funding to be allocated for tourism marketing. VISIT FLORIDA is required to match those public funds dollar-for-dollar, which is done by actively recruiting the state’s tourism industry to invest as Partners through cooperative advertising campaigns, promotional programs, and many other pay-to-play ventures. According to the EDR ROI study of VISIT FLORIDA, for every $1 the state invests in VISIT FLORIDA, the state sees a $2. return
Tourist Development Tax (TDT)
Each year, local governments are requesting or authorizing the use of bed tax dollars for purposes beyond the scope of promoting tourism.
In 2016, there was an assault on the Tourist Development Tax by three northwest counties wanting to use TDT dollars to fund public safety services. New attempts are being made this year to broaden the scope of those activities and projects that can be supported by Tourist Development Taxes.
Bed taxes were originally created to be used by local Tourist Development Councils (TDCs), reporting to their County Commission, to promote their county and attract more visitors.
Launched in 2008, Airbnb is an online community marketplace allowing people to list, find, and book rental accommodations. The company does not abide by the same rules and regulations or pay the same taxes as all other public lodging establishments that are licensed through the state.
Mega-commercial operators are buying properties and renting them like hotels, but are not complying with the health and safety codes, tax obligations, or zoning requirements. Analysis shows that 30% of Airbnb revenue comes from full-time operators.
Quick Evictions Under 509
An unfortunate trend that has recently emerged in Florida is the difficulties hoteliers are experiencing when attempting to evict transient tenants under F.S. 509.
The situation evolves wherein the hotel room is let and the “transient tenant” begins to list the hotel suite as their address, acquire their driver’s license and even enroll their kids in school using the hotel address, essentially engaging in activities that indicate more of a landlord/tenant relationship.
Due to these activities, the sheriff, or other law enforcement agencies will insist such evictions should fall under Chapter 83 – Landlord Tenant Law.
Changes to Alcohol Rules and Regulations
Alcoholic beverages are regulated by Florida’s Beverage Law. This law controls the way alcohol is manufactured, distributed, and sold to consumers. This is known as the “three-tier system.” Potential alcohol issues which could modify the “three tier system” and that are on the table this year are third-party alcohol delivery, container sizes, off-premise consumption and cooperative advertising.
Expansion of Gambling
FRLA continues to monitor gambling issues in both the legislature and any ballot initiatives that may appear.
Florida businesses can choose from many different models, styles, and types of growth, but they are still structured and directed by government regulation.
Labor laws are regulations that pertain directly to the relationship between employers and employees.
Recently, Florida has seen a rise in labor issues at the federal, state, and local levels of government. Some of the issues FRLA continues to monitor are Miami Beach Minimum Wage, Worker’s Compensation, Employee Benefits, Overtime, and Scheduling.
Hospitality Education Program
HEP provides important workforce-related training and transition programs through Florida’s public school system to students interested in pursuing careers in the hospitality industry. The money in the Division of Hotels and Restaurants’ Trust Fund is derived from a $10 license surcharge paid exclusively by Florida’s restaurant and lodging establishments for the sole purpose of funding this important program.
Approximately 25,000 students and more than 240 high schools participate in HEP. This program helps the hospitality industry grow its future workforce by producing a pool of certified and immediately employable workers with the proper skill set to be an asset to the industry.
Florida’s 825 miles of sandy coastline is one of the state’s most valuable resources. Recognizing the importance of the state’s beaches, the Florida Legislature in 1986 adopted a posture of protecting and restoring the state’s beaches through a comprehensive beach management planning program. Under the program, the Department of Environment Protection’s Division of Water Restoration Assistance evaluates beach erosion problems throughout the state seeking viable solutions.
The primary vehicle for implementing the beach management planning recommendations is the Florida Beach Management Funding Assistance Program (BMAP). This is a program established for the purpose of working in concert with local, state and federal government entities to achieve the protection, preservation and restoration of the coastal sandy beach resources of the state.
Estimates show that thousands of men, women and children are trafficked in the United States each year. These traffickers often rely on legitimate businesses to sustain their operations and infrastructure.
Hotels are one of the venues that traffickers use to exploit their victims, capitalizing on the lack of awareness around this issue within the hotel industry. This criminal activity presents a great risk for the safety and security of hotel businesses, as well as legitimate customers. We encourage the aggressive prosecution of this crime.
On January 11, FRLA’s employees and 10,000 members joined others across the nation to participate in the Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign’s “Wear Blue Day.” On this day, the industry wore blue to stand in solidarity with victims of human trafficking, raise awareness, and inspire efforts to work together to eradicate this crime. Learn more & gain resources on our Human Trafficking Prevention page.
Florida adjusts the state minimum wage annually based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as part of the Minimum Wage Act.
Since the beginning of indexing in 2005, the minimum wage rate has increased an average of fifteen cents per year. Beginning January 1, 2018 the minimum wage in Florida will increase to $8.25.