State House committee advances bill that cracks down on Florida tourism councils

A key Home panel voted unanimously Tuesday to advance laws that may crack down on Florida’s tourism improvement councils, requiring them to make most of their contracts public and to acquire approval from native elected officers for offers exceeding $250,000.

  • Invoice that cracks down on tourism developent councils advances
  • Councils can be required make contracts public
  • Legislature just lately slapped new transparency guidelines on Go to Florida

The swift passage of HB three by the Home Commerce Committee got here regardless of opposition from tourism business advocates who warn the proposed restrictions might expose commerce secrets and techniques and inject heavy-handed paperwork into the artistic processes the councils make use of to draw guests to every of the state’s areas.

“Additionally they have considerations relating to, I would not simply say nimble or their capacity to function shortly but in addition to not essentially, to micromanage sure points of it and to take the advertising capability away from the advertising professionals and to place it right into a vote of seven or a vote of 5,” Mat Forrest, a lobbyist for the Florida Affiliation of Vacation spot Advertising Organizations, informed the committee.

Forrest was referring to the laws’s empowerment of county commissions to reject the massive contracts. As a result of the regional councils are funded by native lodge taxes, supporters say elected officers ought to have the ultimate say on how the dollars are spent.

“We have to be sure that once we’re doing these operations inside authorities that we’re absolutely clear and we spend the cash correctly and appropriately, as a result of it isn’t our cash. It is taxpayer cash,” stated Rep. Mike Miller (R-Orlando).

The legislative give attention to the councils comes six months after the legislature slapped new transparency guidelines on Go to Florida, the statewide tourism advertising company. That effort was led by Home Speaker Richard Corcoran (R-Land O’Lakes) within the wake of revelations of questionable spending, together with a $1 million promotional contract with the rapper Pitbull that was initially shielded from public view.

“(When) a authorities company is engaged in questionable conduct and contracts and secrecy, that is unacceptable for us,” Corcoran informed reporters earlier this yr.

On the heels of the Go to Florida crackdown, the tourism improvement councils discovered themselves making much less-than-admirable headlines. Go to Orlando, particularly, has attracted lawmakers’ ire over a $7 million contract it struck with the U.S. Tennis Affiliation. The council additionally paid greater than $seventy five,000 for a branding cope with a tv station that employs a Go to Orlando board member.

Such preparations might quickly face a vetting gauntlet involving not simply the councils themselves, however county commissions and the general public at giant. And that, lawmakers predict, would forestall questionable contracts from even being proposed.

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