ANNA MARIA – On Sunday, May 12, Anna Maria Commissioner Carol Carter provided an email recap of the Florida Legislature’s recently-concluded 2019 legislative session.
“We can breathe a sigh of relief. The 2019 legislative session ended and we are ‘safe’ for another year. Attempts by various legislators to pre-empt home rule of short-term rentals failed. Thanks to all of you who emailed, phoned and wrote letters to committee members – it worked,” Carter wrote.
Senate Bill 1720 sought to expand the scope of Bert Harris claims, but it died without a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee and never progressed any further. Its companion bill in the House, HB 1383, passed through three House committees, but without a Senate companion died before it ever reached the House floor for a final vote.
“These bills attempted to expand the Bert Harris Act and would have created a universal application if a city granted a variance to the private property rights of any one property that variance would have applied to all ‘similarly situated’ properties,” Carter wrote.
“There were also two other pre-emptive bills you helped kill this session: SB 824 and its companion, HB 987,” Carter wrote.
These bills were another attempt by the state Legislature to preempt the regulation of vacation rentals to the state and take that authority away from Florida cities and counties. Adoption of these bills would have rendered null and void Anna Maria’s vacation rental ordinance, as well as the vacation rental ordinances adopted in Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach.
“Thankfully, SB 824 was never heard in Senate committee. It was frightening that HB 987 quickly cleared all its committees, but without its companion bill, it too died,” Carter wrote.
Carter thanked Senate President Bill Galvano, Senator Joe Gruters and Representative Will Robinson. The three state legislators from the Bradenton-Sarasota area met separately with Carter and Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy in Tallahassee on March 20.
“All three understood our plea to ‘Let Cities Work’ and allow home rule to be effective. Thanks also to our lobbyist in Tallahassee, Chip Case, who did all the behind-the-scenes work for us in Tallahassee and set up the March 20 meetings,” Carter wrote.
It’s not over
“Those who wish to eliminate our home rule rights will be back lobbying in Tallahassee again next year. The three Anna Maria Island cities plan to take a proactive stance prior to the 2020 legislative session,” Carter wrote.
She mentioned creating “thumb-drive videos” that show the impact of short-term rentals and the effectiveness of the local home rule efforts that in Anna Maria include annual inspections and the mandatory registration of short-term rentals.
Carter’s email expressed her belief that these local efforts help protect the health and safety of visitors and residents alike.