February 17, 2018
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2018 Legislative Session Part 2

Florida Bill Tracking Summary as of February 15

2018 Public Policy & Business Development Schedule

The meeting schedule remains the same - the third Tuesday of each month. Please note that there will be no meeting in the months where we have major events scheduled.

Your assistance and input in planning these events and providing sponsorship is greatly appreciated. Contact Darryl Henderson for more information.

February - 2018 Legislative Update; Clearwater Ferry; Call To Action

March - 2018 Legislative Breakfast (tentative; no meeting)

April - Forward Pinellas – Rt. 60, Causeway Dedicated Lane, etc.

May - Smart Cities/Emerging Technologies/Autonomous Vehicles – Columbus, Ohio

June - Imagine Clearwater – Stantech update, City update, Sports Tourism

July - Politics in Pinellas: SPC Clearwater (no meeting)

August - Candidate Forum/Town Hall: “Regional Transportation” (no meeting)

September - Candidate Forum/Town Hall: “[whatever the hot issue is]” (no meeting)

October - Workforce Development: SPARK, Business Supplier Diversity, PTC/SPC partnerships

November - Joint Tourism Partners/PP-BD meeting

December - PARTY!! End of the year holiday social: City, PP-BD, Forward Pinellas.

CRCC Policy Position on Current Legislation

The CRCC Public Policy & Business Development Committee, along with the Tourism Partners, have crafted the following position with respect to specific legislation being considered during the 2018 Session.

The overall economic vitality of Florida relies heavily on tourism and the ability of VISIT FLORIDA, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, and local Chambers of Commerce to attract the millions of visitors who generate billions of dollars in spending. During the first nine months of 2017, the Sunshine State proudly welcomed more than 88.2 million visitors, a significant increase over the 85.4 million during the same period of 2016.

In 2017, despite the ravages of Hurricane Irma, Clearwater and Pinellas County enjoyed another tremendously successful year for tourism. The Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce membership is heavily comprised of businesses related to the tourism industry; in fact, more than 100,000 Pinellas County residents work in the tourism industry.

The Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce and its membership would like you to be aware of our position on three very critical pieces of legislation.

We OPPOSE HB 3/SB 1714 – Economic Development and Tourism Promotion Accountability.

·        We support accountability within reasonable parameters and assert that the existing regulations and governing bodies are uniquely qualified to perform that oversight.
·        Changes envisioned by these bills will require private businesses to share detailed financial and strategic planning information beyond what is reasonable and will lead to decreased participation by sector partners and negatively impact our member businesses.
·        These bills will strip our members of the tools that have enabled us to successfully generate tax revenue and create jobs in our communities.
·        These bills represent State government over-reaching and encroaching on home rule.
·        We support full funding VISIT FLORIDA and ENTERPRISE FLORIDA.

We OPPOSE HB 585/SB 658 – Tourist Development Tax Expansion

·        We support protecting TDT for the original legislative intent of funding tourism marketing. 
·        These bills represent a clear attempt by the state legislature to usurp the power of local voters, stakeholders and lawmakers, who placed restrictions on the use of Tourist Development Tax dollars specifically to meet local needs with respect to tourism development.
·        Expanding the statutory allowable uses of our existing Tourist Development Tax will invite opportunistic appeals for uses unrelated to tourism development.
·        TDT dollars are collected as bed tax from tourists with the intended use to promote and perpetuate the revenue stream from tourism. 
·        Tourist dollars spent also flow into sales tax and gas tax revenues, which coffers fund infrastructure now and offset any use or strain on existing infrastructure as perceived to be caused by tourists.
·        Changing the allowable uses of TDT funds will revert tax burden to resident taxpayers. 

We OPPOSE HB 815/SB 1180 – County and Municipal Public Officers and Employees

·        An international travel prohibition would eliminate local tourism marketing international missions, sales campaigns, and trade show representation, devastating our ability to draw visitors from other countries to Florida.
·        To have any sort of presence at these invaluable international tourism marketing events, local tourism marketing organizations would be forced to hire representatives residing in the host country – people who know nothing about our destination, who have likely never been to our destination, and who cannot expertly sell our destination.

Economic Development Initiatives of the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce are sponsored by BayCare Health Systems.

Darryl J. Henderson
VP, Public Policy & Economic Development

Questions or comments?

 Next Public Policy/Economic Development Committee Meeting

Tuesday February 20, 2018 7:45 am, CRCC Boardroom