The 2020 legislative session is approaching quickly. Session will open on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, and is expected to end on March 13.
These are the issues impacting our industry that we expect to address in the coming session.
According to the Florida Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research’s September 2019 report to the legislature, strength in tourism is compensating for drags in other parts of Florida’s economy and “tourism related revenue losses pose the greatest risk to [Florida’s] economic outlook.” Now is not the time to reduce our commitment to and investment in the tourism industry. We believe VISIT FLORIDA plays a vital role in attracting visitors to our beautiful state, and we will advocate for reauthorization and continued funding for VISIT FLORIDA.
Short Term Rentals
Short Term Rentals have become an increasingly popular option for Florida’s visitors. It’s important that lodging establishments operate on a level playing field, providing a consistent and high-quality visitation experience for all guests. Registration, safety and sanitation, and collection of the proper taxes is incumbent upon all who provide lodging for Florida’s visitors. Appropriate regulation of vacation rental properties and hosting platforms will ensure that basic requirements are met and appropriate taxes are collected and paid.
Predictive Scheduling/Employment Conditions
So called “Predictive Scheduling” refers to laws and ordinances that mandate specific employee scheduling practices and levy penalties for violations. The intention of these laws is good – wanting to provide stability and predictability to employees in the retail and restaurant industries. In practice, these regulations hamper employers’ ability to respond to the needs and demands of their businesses. Further, it takes away the flexibility many employees in these industries desire. It also limits their ability to pick up additional shifts and make more money when their schedules allow. We support a law that prohibits regulation of the employer/employee relationship at the local level, including scheduling mandates.
FRLA believes that every employer has a duty to comply with the existing regulations regarding the lawful hiring of individuals. We are concerned that tying employers to a single system of employment verification that is operated by the federal government may not be the most efficient means of ensuring compliance. We encourage policymakers to consider that there are other systems that can be used to screen for employment status. If it is decided that this particular system is the way to go, we would strongly encourage the adoption of a clear safe harbor for those relying on the E-verify system for hiring decisions.
Requiring the Availability of Emergency Allergy Medications
Legislation has been proposed that would require restaurants to have emergency allergy medications (i.e., EpiPens) available in the event of a customer’s allergic reaction. We support permitting restaurants to take proactive measures to appropriately educate staff and patrons regarding potential allergens. Mandating the stocking and potential use of EpiPens increases regulation, certification and liability for businesses. We feel additional business mandates are not the appropriate solution to this issue.
Florida’s hospitality industry understands the necessity of protecting Florida’s beautiful environment. We support the continued, voluntary efforts of our members to adopt practical and workable sustainability measures that are consistent with their culture and their community. As it specifically relates to plastic straws, we urge communities to consider the needs of the disability community to whom plastic straw alternatives may pose a significant hazard. Having plastic straws available upon customer request allows our establishments to serve Floridians of all ability levels.
Businesses all over Florida have felt the impact of Red Tide and Blue Green Algae blooms. In addition to the significant environmental impact, the impact to businesses and to visitation is considerable. Addressing water quality requires the cooperation of many agencies, entities and constituencies. There is no quick and easy fix. We support committing the state’s resources to the development and enactment of prudent long-term policies that will result in meaningful solutions for our state.