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Anna Maria officials oppose rental bill

ANNA MARIA – Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy traveled to Tallahassee last week to express the city’s opposition to Senate Bill 714.

SB 714 is the Florida Legislature’s most recent move to further limit local government’s ability to regulate short-term vacation rentals, giving more authority to the state. House Bill 883 serves as the companion bill. Both pieces of proposed legislation are currently working their way through various Senate and House committee stops. If SB 714 and HB 883 successfully pass through their respective committee stops, they would then be placed before both houses of the Legislature for final votes. If the Senate and House both adopt similar bills, the legislation will be sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign into new state law or veto.

Murphy arrived in Tallahassee on Wednesday and returned to Anna Maria on Friday. While in Tallahassee, he hand-delivered to key state legislators copies of the city resolution the Anna Maria City Commission adopted on March 9. The resolution expresses the mayor and commission’s opposition to taking away the city’s ability to regulate short-term vacation rentals at the local level.

When discussing SB 714 on March 9, Murphy said, “The only people this benefits is Airbnb and Vrbo. They’re the ones pushing this. Airbnb and Vrbo would like nobody between them and the person renting the house: No realtor, no government agency, no city. Everything’s mechanized and there’s no need for any humans to be involved. That’s what this is all about.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Murphy sent an email update to city commissioners that noted SB 714 successfully passed through the Senate’s Regulated Industries Committee the previous day.

“An amendment was added during that meeting which clarifies fees and tax liability, none of which helps our cause of killing this bill,” Murphy stated in email.

“The good news is that our website (www.homerulefl.com) generated over 2,500 emails to senators on that committee, all speaking out in opposition to SB 714. What’s more, we added 250 new subscribers to our website and our distribution list. We are now very much a statewide website with subscribers throughout the state. We will continue to track SB 714 as it goes to its next two committees in the Senate and we will have campaigns ready to address the bill,” Murphy wrote.

On Saturday, Murphy provided The Sun with more details about his trip.

“I was able to meet the president of the Senate, Kathleen Passidomo, and I left her a copy of our resolution. I also discussed the pitfalls of this pending legislation, including taking away our right to limit the occupancy of vacation rentals,” Murphy said.

“I met with the bill’s sponsor (Sen. Nick DiCeglie, R-St. Petersburg) and told him our concerns about ‘party houses’ and the catastrophic impact this bill will have on our Island community. Later, I met with Sen. Jim Boyd and State Rep. Will Robinson Jr. to discuss our concerns. My final meetings were with the House speaker’s office and the chairperson of the Commerce Committee, State Rep. Bob Rommel,” Murphy said.
“As an Island community, we need to bombard the Legislature with our concerns through phone calls and emails. We can utilize the HomeRuleFL.com website to send instant emails to the legislators as the bill moves through the House and the Senate. We are at a very serious and critical crossroads with this bill. Failure to speak up now could have long-term negative implications on our quality of life on Anna Maria Island,” Murphy said.

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