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The House Regulatory Reform Committee advanced HB 219 on February 10, 2021 by a narrow 10-7. Two “yes” votes stated that they would vote “no” in later committees unless improvements are made to the bill. Had those members voted “no” last week – the bill would have died.

Committee members discussed that they have been inundated with calls and emails. Please continue to weigh-in with lawmakers (and note your hometown, particularly when contacting your local representative). It makes a difference. Thank you for your support!

 

Published February 11, 2021 in The Center Square. By John Haughey. Read thefull article here. Photo: Florida Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah Gardens. Phil Sears / AP.

Vacation rental bill advances in House, set for first Senate hearing

(The Center Square) — The Florida Legislature’s Republican leadership has unsuccessfully targeted local regulation of short-term vacation rentals offered on digital websites such as Airbnb, VRBO and HomeToGo with preemption bills since 2014.

House Bill 219, sponsored by Rep. Jason Fischer, R-Jacksonville, advanced through the House Regulatory Reform Subcommittee Wednesday in a 10-7 vote.

Senate Bill 522, HB 219’s Senate companion filed by Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr., R-Hialeah Gardens, makes its debut Tuesday before the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. Hearings before the Senate Commerce & Tourism and Rules committees will follow.

The bill is similar to Diaz’s 2020 proposal, which languished in Senate committees while its House companion, also sponsored by Fischer, died on the House floor after Gov. Ron DeSantis said vacation rental regulations “should be determined locally.”

A 2019 House measure also passed three committee hearings before dying on the floor while two related Senate bills, including one sponsored by Diaz, were never heard in committee.

Therefore, when SB 522 goes before the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, it will mark a significant advance for the preemption push in the senior chamber.

As with previous proposals, HB 219/SB 522 would require vacation rental homes be licensed by the state Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) and be regulated and taxed as such.

HB 219/SB 522 also include a provision that waylaid previous proposals — nullification of vacation home regulations adopted by cities and counties since 2014.

The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) supports the proposal, as do 19 hotel operators represented by HDG Hotel’s Chief People & Culture Officer Lisa Lombardi, who said HB 219/SB 522 “has a lot of potential to make sure we can all recognize who is in our state providing lodging of any form.”

Lombardi said “there’s room for improvement” and suggested the bill include fines for non-compliance and auditing requirements.

Democrats raised concerns about “commercial operations” in residential neighborhoods with no local oversight and said it would cost taxpayers $1.4 million annually if the DBPR assumes exclusive regulatory control of short-term rentals.

Former state Rep. Jason Steele, a past Brevard County Republican Party chair, warned those who support “this terrible bill” will face repercussions from angry voters, noting Democrats opposing the proposal are the real conservatives in this discussion.

“It’s political suicide for you,” Steele said. “I’m telling you right now, you’re jeopardizing your political career.”

Steele’s comments drew sharp rebuke with chair Rep. Bob Rommel, R-Naples, vowing “political threats” won’t influence votes on measure.

“I gotta say,” agreed Rep. Tommy Gregory, R-Sarasota, “the aggressive, sometimes offensive threats are not helpful — and former representatives should know better.”

Read thefull article here.

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