The 2019 legislative session is fast approaching. Session will open on March 5, 2019 and is expected to end on May 3.
These are the issues impacting our industry that we expect to address in the coming session.

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 hosting platforms will ensure that basic requirements are met, and appropriate taxes are collected and paid.

Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is a deplorable and heinous crime, and Florida’s hospitality industry is uniquely positioned to be on the front lines of human trafficking prevention. The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, along with other industry members, offers free high-quality training for hospitality workers that will teach them to recognize the warning signals of trafficking activity and report such activities promptly. We believe that training and increased criminal penalties can help turn the tide against human trafficking in Florida.

Water Quality
Florida’s tourism industry is feeling the effects of red tide and blue green algal blooms. These occurrences can discourage visitation to our state, jeopardize economic activity, and pose potential health threats. The solutions are not simple, and the timeline is not short. The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association will play a key role in protecting our tourism industry and working towards long-term and meaningful solutions to Florida’s water quality challenges.

VISIT FLORIDA’s enabling legislation is set to expire in 2019. The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association will work with industry partners to renew this legislation and establish the continued existence and operation of this successful and productive private public partnership.

Tourist Development Tax
The Tourist Development Tax was designed to ensure a consistent source of funding for marketing and promotion of tourism in the Sunshine State. The use of these dollars has been expanded over the years to include more and more activities beyond marketing and promotion. The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association does not support any further expansion of the use of these dollars.

Additional Assistance for Algal Bloom Impacts
Many tourism industry members experienced devastating losses as a result of the algal blooms. Executive branch personnel and emergency management personnel worked effectively and tirelessly to bring all available resources and aid to impacted businesses. We feel additional solutions and need to be evaluated and applied where appropriate. Whether it’s tax breaks, tax incentives, or other potential programs, we encourage the thorough consideration of all potential options that might seek to alleviate the considerable economic impact these algal blooms have had on tourism businesses.

Undoubtedly, this list will expand as bills are filed and issues develop. We will keep you up to date throughout session.

For a summary of the 2018 legislative session, review the 2018 Legislative Scorecard and the more detailed 2018 Sine Die Report.