Governor Ron DeSantis Launches Donation Portal for Southwest Florida Tornado Survivors Following Federal Government’s Decision to Deny Assistance

Pledge donations or request assistance here.

Following the federal government’s denial of Florida’s request to provide assistance to individuals impacted by the tornadoes that touched down in Charlotte and Lee counties on January 16, Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) launched a donation portal to provide immediate relief for disaster survivors impacted by the tornadoes. The donation portal is available at
“We cannot continue waiting on the federal government to provide relief to these Floridians,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “After meeting with survivors last week, it’s clear they still need our help. We’ve helped community leaders launch this portal to expedite assistance for impacted residents and we’re going to ensure they get help.” 
“These donations are going to directly provide assistance to our disaster survivors who need it most,” said FDEM Director Kevin Guthrie. “The Division is working around the clock to connect disaster survivors with this vital resource, which will help them recover faster and begin to rebuild after experiencing extensive devastation.”  
The State of Florida is partnering with the Charlotte Community Foundation to collect and disburse donations for disaster survivors. All donations made through the portal are tax deductible.
At this time, donations will be prioritized for survivors whose homes were assessed as being destroyed or sustaining major damage, per FEMA criteria through previous Joint Preliminary Damage Assessments. The State is coordinating with Charlotte and Lee counties to connect survivors directly with the portal. 
Disaster survivors can also request assistance at This page provides disaster survivors with information on how to register an account through the portal and how to request assistance. 
If you are a survivor whose home was determined to be destroyed or sustaining major damage, you can call 833-930-3707 to be connected with the donation portal. The donation portal call center is available to survivors seven days a week from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. 

Governor DeSantis, Surgeon General Share Updated COVID Guidance


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. —Today, Governor Ron DeSantis and State Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo announced significant changes to Florida’s COVID-19 guidance including pushing back on unscientific corporate masking, reducing isolation for all Floridians including those in schools and daycares, and recommending that physicians should exercise their individual clinical judgement and expertise based on their patients’ needs and preferences. For more information about Florida’s new guidance, click here.
“People want to live freely in Florida, without corporate masking creating a two-tier society and without overbearing isolation for children,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “We are empowering health care practitioners to follow science, not Fauci’s status quo.”
Public health updates in Florida now include:
  • Pushing Back Against Corporate Masking for Employees
  • Advising Health Care Practitioners and Facilities to Reevaluate Status Quo Protocols in Favor of Scientifically Based Treatment Options to Benefit Patients
  • Updating Daycare Guidance to Limit Child Isolation to 5 Days
  • Updating the School Rule to Limit Student Isolation to 5 Days
  • Reducing Isolation for Floridians with COVID to 5 Days
“The State of Florida has widespread natural and vaccine-induced immunity,” said State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo. “Evidence suggests that most secondary transmission occurs early on. Our state will continue to make decisions for Floridians rooted in sound science, not fear, whether they are working or in school.”
Pushing Back Against Corporate Masking for Employees
Despite a lack of evidence that masks, and particularly cloth face coverings, prevent the transmission of COVID-19, many corporations have continued to require their employees to wear masks at work, regardless of the situation. Unlike CDC guidance, Florida’s new masking guidance advises against wearing facial coverings in a community setting. There is not strong evidence that masks reduce the transmission of respiratory illness.
This guidance makes clear that all employees at a corporation should not be forced to wear a mask while at work. The guidance recognizes that there are millions of employees in Florida working in industries from hospitality to manufacturing to banking who for no reason whatsoever have been forced to wear a mask at work.
The full guidance can be accessed here.
Advising Health Care Practitioners and Facilities to Reevaluate Status Quo Protocols in Favor of Scientifically Based Treatment Options to Benefit Patients
Florida recognizes that health care practitioners know best how to treat their patients. With today’s actions, state guidance is now clear that practitioners will have the flexibility to make the decision to treat patients with off-label prescriptions if they determine that it may help the patient and it is something the patient would like to try and provides informed consent to try. Florida has always believed in providing all possible treatment options to health care providers and led efforts to make monoclonal antibody treatments available statewide.
The full guidance can be accessed here.
Updating Daycare Guidance to Limit Child Isolation to 5 Days
Florida is supporting parents with children in daycare by updating outdated, unscientific guidelines that hurt working families and keep kids out of school.
Florida is making it clear that healthy children in daycare do not need to quarantine; children in daycare who test positive for COVID-19 can return after five days, with no test required. This guidance also reiterates that children attending daycare should never be forced to wear a mask — this choice should always be made by the parent.
The full guidance can be accessed here.
Updating the School Rule to Limit Student Isolation to 5 Days
The Florida Department of Health is also updating the school isolation rule to reduce isolation to 5 days. Parents still maintain the right to determine if their child should wear a mask and that remains strictly optional.
The updated rule language can be found here.
Reducing Isolation for Floridians with COVID to 5 Days
The new 5-day isolation guidance for COVID-19 issued by the Florida Department of Health is based on science and was informed by access to treatments, the benefits and harms of isolation, and widespread immunity. The 5-day guidance does not rely on the use of masks as a mitigation technique among the general public, as the use of masks has been shown to be ineffective in preventing transmission. This guidance recognizes that the CDC’s guidance is vastly out of date and has forced Floridians to miss work and school even when it is safe to return.
The updated guidance language can be found here.

RELEASE: Florida Tourism Continues to Surpass Pre-Pandemic Levels

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that Florida welcomed 30.9 million visitors between October and December 2021, marking the second consecutive quarter that overall visitation has surpassed 2019, pre-pandemic levels. Overall in 2021, Florida had nearly 118 million domestic visitors, the highest level in state history, as residents of other states flocked to Florida as a refuge from lockdown policies. For more information, click here.


“In Florida, we put freedom first, and as a result people are choosing to vacation in our state from across the country and the world to escape lockdowns, including the politicians who advocated for those reckless policies and who are often spotted vacationing here,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “While tourism in other states is only just beginning to recover, Florida is at the front of the pack — now we are surpassing pre-pandemic levels and setting new visitation records. I’m thankful that VISIT FLORIDA continued to market our state throughout the past two years, and I am confident that 2022 will be another great year for Florida’s tourism industry.”


“We are thrilled to cap off an incredible year with more record-breaking success for Florida’s tourism industry,” said Dana Young, VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO. “Overall visitation not only exceeded 2019’s for the second quarter in a row, but domestically reached the highest point in our state’s history. We also saw a significant rebound in international travel, including record visitation from Colombia that has made it now Florida’s No. 1 international origin market. VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing continues to drive results on behalf of Florida’s tourism economy, and we are looking forward to taking this success to new heights in 2022 and beyond.”


More information about the newly released estimates can be found here. Highlights include:


  • Preliminary estimates from VISIT FLORIDA show that 29 million domestic visitors traveled to Florida in the fourth quarter of 2021, reflecting a 57 percent increase from the same period in 2020, and a 7 percent increase from 2019.
  • Approximately 1.5 million overseas visitors came to Florida in Q4 of 2021, an increase of 198 percent from 2020, and 43 percent from Q3 2021.
  • In addition, 359,000 Canadian travelers visited Florida between October and December of 2021, nearly three times as many as in the previous quarter.
  • For the year, Latin America was the driving force of overseas visitation in 2021, with Colombia becoming the state’s No. 1 international market with a record 710,000 visitors.
  • In addition, Florida’s total hotel revenue reached its highest ever in 2021 at $17.3 billion, a 2 percent increase over 2019.


Florida’s tourism industry has rebounded exceptionally well from the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of Governor DeSantis’ leadership and VISIT FLORIDA’s efforts to draw visitors back to the state. Since launching its tourism recovery plan with Governor DeSantis in August 2020, VISIT FLORIDA has showcased Florida’s wealth of year-round vacation options that can be freely enjoyed by all types of travelers, helping to generate revenue for our communities, and equipping Florida with the competitive edge as a destination.




Lakeland, FL: The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) has signed on as the presenting sponsor of the annual SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo, with events being held Tuesday, April 5th through Sunday, April 10th at the Lakeland Linder International Airport.

“The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) is the proud title sponsor of the 2022 the SUN ‘n FUN AeroSpace Expo, ” said FRLA President & CEO Carol Dover. “This event brings over 200,000 visitors from across the nation to Central Florida’s Lakeland Linder International Airport, supporting local tourism and bringing new faces to the area’s restaurants and lodging establishments.”

FRLA’s mission is to ‘Protect, Educate and Promote’ Florida’s hospitality industry. As Florida’s largest convention and the second largest airshow in the country, the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo generates an average of $249 million in local economic impact each year.

Throughout the week, afternoon airshows will showcase aerobatics and precision flying as ground displays and guest speakers highlight the history of aviation. The event is designed to preserve and enhance the future of flight through world-class events, inspiring and educating people of all ages.


About: The mission of the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE) is to “Engage, Educate, and Accelerate the Next Generation of Aerospace Professionals. The SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo and dozens of other events year-round produce the majority of the revenue that goes into supporting this mission. By attending our events, you are helping us deliver top-quality, industry-leading STEM education and scholarship programs to thousands of young men and women each year. The opportunities that ACE provides give young people a competitive edge as they navigate their educational journey that can ultimately lead to a rewarding career in the world’s incredibly diverse and rapidly growing aerospace industry. You can help! Please click the links below to explore how you can share your knowledge and expertise as a volunteer in over 3500 available positions, become a patron of the Florida Air Museum, or donate to assist us financially. Regardless of how you assist, whether by attending our events, visiting the museum or donating financially, we sincerely appreciate your support!

Omicron Variant Hit Restaurant Industry Hard; Replenishing the RRF Forecast to Save more than Florida Jobs

New survey from National Restaurant Association shows 50,000 jobs saved with first round of RRF Funding

TALLAHASSEE, FL– The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) today released new survey data highlighting the devastating impact the omicron variant has had so far, and the positive impact the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) had on the Florida restaurant industry. According to National Restaurant Association analysis, the first round of RRF funding saved more than 50,000 jobs and helped 100% of recipients of a grant stay in business.


In addition, the survey found:


  • Nearly 41% of restaurant operators that did not receive RRF grants feel it’s unlikely that they will stay in business beyond the pandemic without a grant.
  • 100% of restaurant operators that applied for an RRF grant, but did not receive funding, said a future grant would enable them to retain or hire back employees.


“This highlights how impactful RRF replenishment would be. The National Restaurant Association estimates indicate that full replenishment of the RRF will save an additional 95,000 restaurant jobs,” said Carol Dover, President & CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “The RRF was a critical lifeline to many, but far more remain on the sidelines, desperately looking for support amidst continued economic uncertainty. The decisions Congress could make in the coming weeks will be critical toward the future of the restaurants that are so proud to serve our communities.”


The restaurant industry was hit hard by the latest surge of COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant. Forced to adapt to deteriorating consumer confidence, restaurants reduced hours/days of operation, cut seating capacity, and shutdown, pivoting to off-premises dining with the end result being lower sales volumes in 2021 than in 2019.


According to the survey, we know:


  • 73% of restaurants experienced a decline in customer demand for indoor on-premises dining in because of the omicron variant.
  • 51% of operators report that business conditions are worse now than three months ago.
  • 60% say their restaurant is less profitable now than it was before the pandemic.


“The new data show that restaurant recovery is paralyzed and nowhere near complete. The restaurant industry is at an inflection point, and Congress must act now to replenish the RRF,” said Dover.


Businesses can tell Congress to replenish the RRF here.


The Florida findings were provided by the National Restaurant Association Research Group, which conducted a COVID-19 Restaurant Impact Survey of 4,200 restaurant operators Jan. 16-18, 2022. Read the report of key Florida findings here.




About the National Restaurant Association

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 15.6 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We sponsor the industry’s largest trade show (National Restaurant Association Show); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF’s ProStart). For more information, visit and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.

Clarion Events Food & Beverage Group and The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association Announce the Reboot of Its Annual Tradeshow

HELTON, CT  –  Clarion Events Food & Beverage Group and the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) have announced the relaunch of the all-new Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show (FRLS) to take place November 1-4, 2022 at the Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando, Florida. This newly reinvented gathering for the restaurant, foodservice, lodging and hospitality industry will replace the historic FRLS, traditionally held in Orlando in September.

“After 40 years of hosting the FRLA Show in Orlando, we felt it was time for a refresh for this important industry event, which our association has long been a partner in,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association. “We believe in the power of in-person networking through a strong and dynamic expo and conference and look forward to rebuilding and rebooting this 40-year-old event. We are working closely with Clarion Events to develop timely education, exciting high production events with high profile chefs and presenters, and a diverse show floor showcasing trends and hot concepts. In addition, we are excited that the FRLA Board of Directors meeting will be held in conjunction with this new event.”

Education will be a key component of this new event with leading subject matter experts providing relevant content for independents, small/medium sized chains, regional chains, foodservice and lodging industry professionals. Topics to be covered will include technology, trends and hot concepts, HR/staffing, marketing, operations, financing/budgeting, leasing, menu, legal/compliance, private label, health/healthy food products, wellness, sustainability, etc.

The expo hall will offer a diverse and curated collection of products and services, education theaters, high production demonstrations, wine & spirits, flair bartending, a Latino initiative, and much more. Special events will include a breakfast keynote, roundtable lunches with peer-to-peer networking, receptions, awards, fundraiser and the FRLA awards.

“We have been working closely with our partners at the FRLA to evaluate the best ways to bring the Florida restaurant and lodging industry back together after a two-year hiatus and we are thrilled to be announcing the launch of this new and exciting conference and expo,” said Rita Ugianskis, Vice President for the Clarion Events Food & Beverage Group. “We know the Florida restaurant and hospitality market is vibrant and deserving of an event that delivers top notch exhibits, education and networking opportunities. We look forward to delivering that for FRLA Members and the entire Florida market in November 2022.”

The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show is sponsored by The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA), Florida’s premier non-profit hospitality industry trade association. Founded in 1946 as the Florida Restaurant Association, FRLA merged with the Florida Hotel and Motel Association in 2006. FRLA’s more than 10,000 members include independent hoteliers and restaurateurs, household name franchises, theme parks and suppliers. The association’s mission is to protect, educate and promote Florida’s $111.7 billion hospitality industry which represents 1.5 million employees. Dedicated to safeguarding the needs of the membership, FRLA provides legislative advocacy to ensure the voices of its members are heard and their interests are protected. The association offers regulatory compliance and food safety training through SafeStaff® and FRLA’s subsidiary, RCS Training. The FRLA Educational Foundation provides industry-developed, career-building high school programs throughout the state.

Clarion Events ( produces 37 events across 13 sectors of both trade and consumer events. The Clarion Events Food & Beverage Group include the Western Foodservice & Hospitality ExpoInternational Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New YorkCoffee Fest and The NGA Show. Clarion Events acquired PennWell in early 2018, bringing 4 Tradeshow 200 events into the U.S. portfolio and super-charging the already rapid growth. Clarion Events has offices in Trumbull, CT; Kennesaw, GA; Boca Raton, FL; Tacoma, WA, and Fairlawn, NJ.

# # #

For Further Information, Contact:
Amy Riemer, Media Relations Representative
978-475-4441 (office) or 978-502-4895 (cell)

Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) Announces 2022 Board of Directors Executive Committee

TALLAHASSEE – Today, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) announced the installation of its 2022 Board of Directors Executive Committee. As Florida’s premier non-profit hospitality trade association, FRLA has provided excellent service to the industry and its members for more than 75 years. The mission of FRLA is to protect, educate, and promote Florida’s hospitality industry – a $112 billion industry with 1.5 million employees pre-COVID-19.


FRLA’s 2022 Board of Directors Executive Committee is comprised of the following:


  • Chair: Olivia Hoblit, Regional Manager for Innisfree Hotels, Amelia Island
  • Vice-Chair: John Horne, Owner of Anna Maria Oyster Bars, Bradenton
  • Secretary/Treasurer and Lodging Director: Roger Amidon, General Manager for Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa
  • Lodging Director: Barbara Bowden, Area Managing Director for Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando
  • Restaurant Director: Nick Sarra, Chief Operating Officer, Saltwater Restaurants, Inc.
  • Restaurant Director: Carlos Gazitua, President & CEO of Sergio’s Family Restaurants, Miami
  • Immediate Past Chairman: Jim Shirley, Chef Jim Shirley Enterprises, Santa Rosa Beach


“The success of Florida’s hospitality industry is essential – not just to our members but to all Floridians – as tourism and hospitality are top producers for the state’s economy,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA). “As Florida hotels, restaurants, and suppliers continue to pivot and recover from ongoing challenges related to COVID-19, it is critical that we have strong leaders and forward thinkers to direct and advise our efforts. I could not be more proud of the FRLA Board of Directors executive leadership, which is comprised of lifelong hospitality veterans and entrepreneurs whose passion and sacrifice for the industry are without comparison. I am confident we have the right team in place to achieve success for this Legislative Session and beyond.”

“As Chair of the FRLA Board, I am optimistic for the state of the hospitality industry and am excited to work with my peers to achieve solutions to our current challenges,” said Olivia Hoblit, Board Chair for the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA). “Local, state, and federal advocacy is key to keeping our businesses thriving and ensuring our continued recovery, and we are grateful for all of the support we have received from Florida’s leaders. As we address historic staffing shortages, engaging and mentoring young adults will be a focus of mine as Chair to encourage our growth and alleviate these existing labor gaps. There has never been a greater time to join hospitality, and I am eager to work with our educational institutions to share the many opportunities that are available and secure the future of our industry.”

For full biographies for the FRLA Board of Directors, please click here.


About FRLA: The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) is Florida’s premier non-profit hospitality industry trade association. Founded in 1946 as the Florida Restaurant Association, FRLA merged with the Florida Hotel and Motel Association in 2006. FRLA’s more than 10,000 members include independent hoteliers and restaurateurs, household name franchises, theme parks and suppliers. The association’s mission is to protect, educate and promote Florida’s nearly $112 billion hospitality industry which represents 1.5 million employees. Dedicated to safeguarding the needs of the membership, FRLA provides legislative advocacy to ensure the voices of its members are heard and their interests are protected. The association offers regulatory compliance and food safety training through Safe Staff® and FRLA’s subsidiary, RCS Training. The FRLA Educational Foundation provides industry-developed, career-building high school programs throughout the state.



CDC recommends shorter COVID isolation, quarantine for all

By Mike Stobbe, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials on Monday cut isolation restrictions for Americans who catch the coronavirus from 10 to five days, and similarly shortened the time that close contacts need to quarantine.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said the guidance is in keeping with growing evidence that people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop.

The decision also was driven by a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, propelled by the omicron variant.

Early research suggests omicron may cause milder illnesses than earlier versions of the coronavirus. But the sheer number of people becoming infected — and therefore having to isolate or quarantine — threatens to crush the ability of hospitals, airlines and other businesses to stay open, experts say.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the country is about to see a lot of omicron cases.

“Not all of those cases are going to be severe. In fact many are going to be asymptomatic,” she told The Associated Press on Monday. “We want to make sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society functioning while following the science.”

Last week, the agency loosened rules that previously called on health care workers to stay out of work for 10 days if they test positive. The new recommendations said workers could go back to work after seven days if they test negative and don’t have symptoms. And the agency said isolation time could be cut to five days, or even fewer, if there are severe staffing shortages.

Now, the CDC is changing the isolation and quarantine guidance for the general public to be even less stringent.

The guidance is not a mandate; it’s a recommendation to employers and state and local officials. Last week, New York state said it would expand on the CDC’s guidance for health-care workers to include employees who have other critical jobs that are facing a severe staffing shortage.

It’s possible other states will seek to shorten their isolation and quarantine policies, and CDC is trying to get out ahead of the shift. “It would be helpful to have uniform CDC guidance” that others could draw from, rather than a mishmash of policies, Walensky said.

The CDC’s guidance on isolation and quarantine has seemed confusing to the public, and the new recommendations are “happening at a time when more people are testing positive for the first time and looking for guidance,” said Lindsay Wiley, an American University public health law expert.

Nevertheless, the guidance continues to be complex.


The isolation rules are for people who are infected. They are the same for people who are unvaccinated, partly vaccinated, fully vaccinated or boosted.

They say:

—The clock starts the day you test positive.

—An infected person should go into isolations for five days, instead of the previously recommended 10.

—At the end of five days, if you have no symptoms, you can return to normal activities but must wear a mask everywhere — even at home around others — for at least five more days.

—If you still have symptoms after isolating for five days, stay home until you feel better and then start your five days of wearing a mask at all times.


The quarantine rules are for people who were in close contact with an infected person but not infected themselves.

For quarantine, the clock starts the day someone is alerted to they may have been exposed to the virus.

Previously, the CDC said people who were not fully vaccinated and who came in close contact with an infected person should stay home for at least 10 days.

Now the agency is saying only people who got booster shots can skip quarantine if they wear masks in all settings for at least 10 days.

That’s a change. Previously, people who were fully vaccinated — which the CDC has defined as having two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — could be exempt from quarantine.

Now, people who got their initial shots but not boosters are in the same situation as those who are partly vaccinated or are not vaccinated at all: They can stop quarantine after five days if they wear masks in all settings for five days afterward.


Suspending both isolation and quarantine after five days is not without risk.

A lot of people get tested when they first feel symptoms, but many Americans get tested for others reasons, like to see if they can visit family or for work. That means a positive test result may not reveal exactly when a person was infected or give a clear picture of when they are most contagious, experts say.

When people get infected, the risk of spread drops substantially after five days, but it does not disappear for everyone, said Dr. Aaron Glatt, a New York physician who is a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

“If you decrease it to five days, you’re still going to small but significant number of people who are contagious,” he said.

That’s why wearing masks is a critical part of the CDC guidance, Walensky said.


The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Governor Ron DeSantis Appoints Melanie Griffin as Secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation

For Immediate Release: December 22, 2021

Tallahassee, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the appointment of Melanie Griffin as Secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Melanie Griffin

Griffin, of Tampa, is an Attorney with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick and Senior Advisor for Business-to-Business Relationships for Shumaker Advisors Florida. She is also the Founder and Owner of Spread Your Sunshine, a business that provides speaking and professional training services and designs, manufactures and sells inspirational products and gifts. Griffin is President of the Hillsborough Association of Women Lawyers Executive Board of Directors, serves on the Florida State University College of Law Board of Visitors and is a Fellow of The Florida Bar Foundation. She earned her bachelor’s degree in finance, master of business administration and juris doctor from Florida State University.

This appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.


FRLA Announces Government Relations Personnel Update


TALLAHASSEE, FL – Today, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) announced personnel changes within its Government Relations Department, including the retirement of long-time Senior Vice President (SVP) of Legal and Legislative Affairs, Richard Turner, who served nearly 20 years with the Association. Also announced were the promotions of Samantha Padgett to Vice President of Government Relations and General Counsel and Nicolette Hoffman to Government Relations Manager. The staffing changes are effective December 31, 2021.

“I could not be prouder of the successes of our Government Relations Department under the leadership of Richard Turner for the past two decades,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “Our efforts to advocate for Florida’s restaurant and lodging industries has directly and positively impacted the health and wealth of this great state while protecting the jobs of millions of our employees. We wish Richard the very best in his well-earned retirement and have full faith in Samantha and Nicolette to continue the great work of this Association as we continue our efforts to defend and grow Florida’s top industry into the future.”

Richard Turner: Throughout his time at FRLA, Turner played a key role in achieving continued success and growth for Florida’s largest industry – hospitality and tourism. He represented the industry before the Florida Legislature and the Florida Cabinet, as well as other state partner and regulatory agencies and at the federal level in Washington, D.C.

Among his many career achievements, Turner was integral to the repeal of the alcoholic beverage surcharge, he worked on the preemption to the State of paid leave, and he was involved in the clarification of the communication services tax.

Prior to joining FRLA, Turner spent nearly two decades with the State of Florida, where he served as Director for the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco at the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) and as an attorney at the Department of Insurance, the Department of Agriculture, and DBPR.

Samantha Padgett: Ms. Padgett first joined FRLA in 2018 as General Counsel. In her new role, she will oversee FRLA’s Government Relations Department and direct its agenda and initiatives. She will continue to provide legal counsel to the Association and its leadership and serve as an advocate for the restaurant and lodging industries at the local, state, and federal levels.

During her tenure at FRLA, Padgett helped build a coalition of concerned business associations in the effort to oppose Florida’s Ballot Amendment 2 to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she played a critical role in serving FRLA’s membership by reviewing and interpreting many state and local executive orders that significantly impacted business operations and the livelihood of business owners and employees across Florida.

In the 2020 Legislative Session and in response to the impacts of the pandemic, Padgett helped successfully pass COVID-19 liability protections for businesses; achieved the passage of alcohol-to-go which was crucial to the survival of restaurants during closures; and protected Tourist Development Tax revenues from being diverted for purposes other than tourism marketing which is essential to the health of Florida’s economy.

Ms. Padgett is a member of The Florida Bar. She graduated cum laude from the University of Florida College of Law in 2005 and received her B.A. from Emory University in 2001. She has served on the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors, the University of Florida Center for Retailing Executive Advisory Board and the Florida Recycling Partnership Board of Directors. Ms. Padgett previously served as the Vice President and General Counsel of the Florida Retail Federation (FRF).

Nicolette Hoffman: Ms. Hoffman first joined FRLA in the summer of 2021 as Legislative Analyst and Event Coordinator. In her new role, she will coordinate FRLA’s government relations and advocacy efforts, including state and federal issue management, political contributions processing and reporting, event planning and execution, advocacy communications, and legislative publication design.

Prior to joining FRLA, she served as the Events and Marketing Coordinator for the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, part of Florida State University’s College of Business. Hoffman has also held public policy internships at the United States Senate Commerce Committee; The Hawthorn Group, a public affairs firm based in Washington, D.C.; and Associated Industries of Florida (AIF). She graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Public Relations.