The Florida House on Wednesday passed a bill that would allow counties to spend so-called “bed” tax money on efforts to combat flooding, despite concerns from the tourism industry that the change would reduce marketing dollars.
The House voted 114-2 to approve the measure (HB 1429), sponsored by Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Miami Springs. The bill would expand the allowed uses of tourist-development taxes to include flooding-related projects, with Avila and other supporters pointing to concerns about sea-level rise.
Under current law, counties are allowed to collect the taxes on such things as hotel stays and use the money for a variety of purposes, including tourism promotion and advertising, beach improvements and convention center and stadium projects. As the bill moved through committees, representatives of the tourism industry raised concerns that paying for flooding-related projects could divert money from tourism promotion and advertising.
Rep. Kamia Brown, D-Ocoee, and Rep. Tyler Sirois, R-Merritt Island, were the only House members who voted against the bill Wednesday. A Senate version (SB 2008), sponsored by Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, has been stalled in committees.
–News Service of Florida