Five-year extension of VISIT FLORIDA to Governor DeSantis

The Legislative Assembly voted to extend the state’s tourism marketing arm for five years, completing an agreement reached between the House and Senate.

Senators originally voted to extend VISIT FLORIDA until Oct. 1, 2031. However, after the House on Wednesday approved a five-year extension, the Senate voted 36-3 on Tuesday to postpone the beleaguered agency to Oct. 1, 2028.

Sen. Ed Hooperthe Clearwater Republican sponsoring the bill (SB 434), Wednesday evening, said the The Senate would accept the House versionwritten by Republican Rep. St. Pete Beach. Linda Chaney.

“I checked with (VISIT FLORIDA CEO Dana) Youngand although obviously she would have preferred eight years, like me, five is better than one,” said Wednesday.

Under current law, the authorization for VISIT FLORIDA expires on October 1, 2023. The extension then goes to the government. Ron DeSantis desk.

President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Marc Wilson welcomed the vote in a press release on Tuesday.

“Florida’s tourism industry is a key driver of the state’s $1.23 trillion economy, and VISIT FLORIDA is a natural partner as we work to become the 10th largest economy in the world. ‘by 2030. The Florida Chamber and the Florida business community commend the Florida Legislature and Bill Sponsors Representative Linda Chaney and Senator Ed Hooper for their leadership in supporting the commercialization of our tourism industry and the thousands of local jobs it supports.

The Senate originally passed the bill to extend VISIT Florida through 2031 by a 36-1 vote on Feb. 3. The House amended it to reduce it to 2028 and passed it 98 to 17 on Wednesday, with 15 Republicans voting against.

Tuesday, Republican Sens. Manny Diaz and Ray Rodrigues voted against the House amendment, as did the Democratic senator. Gary Farmer. Díaz had voted against the bill last month, and although Rodrigues was recorded in favor of the bill in the initial vote, he submitted a memo indicating his intention to vote “no.”

Farmers’ vote against the measure on Tuesday appeared to be tied to the change in the House. He voted in favor of the bill last month and was the only senator to question Hooper on Tuesday about the House amendment.

House leaders in 2017 attempted to scrap the program, with the then House Speaker richard corcoran insisting it was “corporate welfare,” but the decision never passed the Senate. However, transparency reforms have been adopted to ensure that VISIT FLORIDA contracts are made public.

Lawmakers also reached an agreement on how to fund the agency. House and Senate budget negotiators agreed to spend $50 million on the agency. Senate officials wanted to make this funding recurring, but finally accepted the House’s position to keep the funds all at once.

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