Vacation rental bills fail again

Sen. Greg Steube
Sen. Greg Steube

TALLAHASSEE – For the second year in a row, Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) and Rep. Mike La Rosa (R-St. Cloud) failed in their efforts to restrict or eliminate local governments’ ability to regulate vacation rentals.

Steube’s Senate bill, CS/SB 1400, was not discussed in the Senate’s final Appropriations Committee meeting on Friday, March 2.

When contacted by email Friday morning, Steube’s legislative assistant, Elizabeth Bolles, said, “The Senate bill is currently in Appropriations and there are no more scheduled meetings for that committee, meaning the bill wouldn’t be heard.”

Steube’s bill sought to preempt all vacation rental regulation to the state. This would have rendered null and void the local vacation rental regulations in effect in Anna Maria, Holmes Beach and soon to be in effect in Bradenton Beach.

On Wednesday, Feb. 28, Bradenton Beach City Attorney Ricinda Perry distributed to City Commissioners an email she received from Dave Ramba, the city’s contracted lobbyist.

Ramba’s email included a link to a story published that day at in which Steube acknowledged that his bill would not likely be discussed at the final Appropriations Committee meeting.

“I think it’s dead for this year. I think this is an issue this Legislature will see every year until it’s resolved,” Steube is quoted as saying in the News Service Florida story.

Had it been supported in its third committee stop, Steube’s bill could have advanced to the Senate floor for a final vote. Steube’s comment implies that Florida cities’ home rule rights may come under attack again in 2019, but he doesn’t expect to be a part of those efforts because he’s now seeking a seat in the U.S. Congress.

The demise of Steube’s bill also signaled the demise of La Rosa’s House bill, HB 773. La Rosa’s bill was already in peril because of two recently-added amendments pertaining to sexual predators and offenders that would have placed significant notification and monitoring requirements on vacation rental owners and operators.

La Rosa’s amended bill was not scheduled for discussion at the House’s Feb. 26 Commerce Committee chaired by Rep. Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton) and no more committee meetings have been scheduled for the 2018 legislative session, which is scheduled to end Friday, March 9.

As recently amended, La Rosa’s bill still did not match Steube’s bill regarding the state being given all regulatory responsibility for vacation rentals. As it did in 2017, La Rosa’s original bill simply said, “A local law, ordinance or regulation may regulate activities that arise when a property is used as a vacation rental provided such regulation applies uniformly to all residential properties without regard to whether the property is used as a vacation rental.”

In order for legislation to become state law, matching bills must be adopted by the House and Senate and then signed by the Governor. According to Perry, Ramba was under the impression that Gov. Rick Scott did not support Steube’s legislation that would have subjected the state to additional regulatory responsibilities and staffing needs.

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