2017 FRLA Legislative Issues
As Florida’s voice of the hospitality industry, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association will continue 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 85 million visitors in the first three-quarters of the year, 2016 is on track to be the sixth 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 $3.20 return.
FRLA SUPPORTS FULLY FUNDING VISIT FLORIDA.
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.
Bed taxes should be used by local Tourist Development Councils to promote their county and attract more visitors, and should not be a funding source for local governments to provide essential services.
Florida’s hoteliers have never pushed to repeal or lower the Tourist Development Tax.
FRLA SUPPORTS THE REPEAL OF THE 2016 LAW AND OPPOSES ANY USE OF THE TOURIST DEVELOPMENT TAXES FOR PURPOSES OTHER THAN THOSE PERMITTED BY LAW.
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.
FRLA SUPPORTS THE STATEWIDE COMPLIANCE OF ALL LODGING ESTABLISHMENTS TO REGISTER WITH THE STATE, COLLECT TAXES, AND PROTECT CONSUMERS WITH ADEQUATE INSURANCE, PREVENTING UNFAIR ADVANTAGES.
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.
FRLA SUPPORTS THE CLARIFICATION OF F.S. 509 ELIMINATING THE CONFUSION WITH CHAPTER 83.
Changes to Alcohol Rules and Regulations
Alcoholic drinks 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 cooperative advertising and alcohol separation requirements.
FRLA SUPPORTS LEGISLATION THAT REFLECTS THE REALITIES OF TODAY’S MARKETPLACE.
Expansion of Gambling
Florida lawmakers have been actively negotiating a deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida to renew a 20-year, multi-million dollar gaming compact.
Despite several negotiating setbacks, the Seminole Tribe has continued to make monthly payments to the state even after a portion of the compact expired in October 2015.
FRLA OPPOSES THE EXPANSION OF GAMBLING AND DESTINATION CASINOS.
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.
FRLA SUPPORTS LEGISLATION THAT PROVIDES A FAIR BALANCE BETWEEN EMPLOYER AND EMPLOYEE.
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