TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Legislature’s latest attempt to give the state sole authority over vacation rental regulations has failed.
When the Legislature concluded its 2021 session last Friday, two vacation rentals bills, Senate Bill 522 and House Bill 219, both died without being adopted as new state law.
In past years, stated legislators attempted – and failed – to preempt virtually all vacation rental regulation to the state. Those failed efforts would have stripped local governments of their ability to regulate, register and inspect vacation rentals at the local level.
In the Florida House of Representatives, those all-encompassing regulatory efforts continued and failed again this year. The Florida Senate’s legislative efforts produced an amended bill that eventually focused directly on the state regulation of the remittance of applicable rental and tourist taxes collected by online vacation rental advertising platforms such as Airbnb, VRBO and others.
Filed by Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. (R-Miami-Dade), SB 522 originally sought to require advertising platforms to collect and remit taxes for certain transactions; revise an exemption to the prohibition against certain local regulation of vacation rentals; preempt the regulation of advertising platforms to the state; and require advertising platforms to adopt an anti-discrimination policy and to inform their users of the policy provisions. The proposed legislation included a proposed $882,716 state appropriation for implementation and enforcement.
In the Florida League of Cities (FLC) latest “On Tap @ the Cap” legislative update, it was noted SB 522 died in the Senate Rules Committee.
“The original bill would have preempted all regulations of vacation rentals to the state, including the inspection and licensing of vacation rentals. The League worked with various stakeholders to amend the bill throughout session to narrow the preemption. The (amended) bill would have protected existing vacation rental regulations but preempt cities from specifically regulating advertising platforms,” the FLC update noted.
Co-sponsored by Rep. Jason Fischer (R-Jacksonville), Rep. Lauren Melo (R-Naples) and Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R-Howey-in-the-Hills), HB 219 sought to require advertising platforms to collect and remit specified taxes imposed for certain transactions; preempt regulation of vacation rentals to the state; prohibit local laws, ordinances or regulations from allowing or requiring inspections or licensing of public lodging establishments, including vacation rentals; and require licenses issued by the Division of Hotels and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to be displayed conspicuously to the public inside the licensed establishment.
The House bill was never fully amended to match the Senate bill that ultimately focused squarely on the remittance and collection of taxes by online advertising platforms.
The House companion bill, HB 219, died in the House Ways and Means Committee.
“HB 219 would have undone any local registration, inspection or licensing requirements specific to short-term rentals adopted since 2011,” the FLC update noted.
Anna Maria response
As has been the case for several years now, the city of Anna Maria and the city’s contracted lobbyist, Chip Case, were again very active in combating the proposed vacation rental legislation.
This year’s efforts included the city taking over the management of the Home Rule Florida website, www.homerulefl.com, which provides information about proposed vacation rental legislation. The website encourages citizens to contact the governor and the state legislators and provides templates and contact information to make those communication efforts easier.
When asked about this year’s outcome, Mayor Dan Murphy said, “While we are relieved that this bill failed to get to the floor, we are fully cognizant that the lobbyists for big business will be back again next session, if not sooner. They have deep pockets and have gained ground during each session over the past five years.
“This year it was the ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ approach, stating they ‘only’ wanted the advertising platforms preempted to state control. By doing so, they would have taken away our ability to regulate occupancy requirements, which is at the very core of addressing noise and congestion issues and complaints,” Murphy said.
City Commission Chair Carol Carter again helped lead the city’s efforts to preserve its home rule rights.
“I want to thank all the people on Home Rule Florida for responding to all the alerts that we sent out about opposing the bills. Once again, the people who care about this situation have made a difference and we were able to keep our home rule rights for vacation rentals for another year,” Carter said.
“Our lobbyist, Chip Case, has been instrumental in these efforts for quite a number of years now. He and the Florida League of Cities have helped voice our concerns to key state legislators in Tallahassee. Chip works very closely with the lobbyist from the Florida League of Cities and we appreciate all of their hard work and effectiveness,” Carter said.