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Weekly Legislative Update from February 7, 2020

Economic Development

SB 306 – Relating to State Funds

On Monday, February 3, SB 306 by Senator Debbie Mayfield (R-Melbourne) was heard by the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee and was reported favorable with 8 yeas and 0 nays. AIF stood in support of this legislation.

In 1997, the Legislature created the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC). The goal of the FHFC is to increase the supply of safe, affordable housing for individuals and families with very low to moderate incomes. To do this, the FHFC uses federal and state resources to finance the development of affordable homes and rental housing and assist first-time homebuyers through various programs. Currently, Florida Statute specifically grants authority to the Legislature to transfer unappropriated cash balances of state trust funds to either the General Revenue Fund or the Budget Stabilization Fund in the General Appropriations Act.

The bill exempts the State Housing Trust Fund and the Local Government Housing Trust Fund (both of which fund FHFC) from a provision authorizing the Legislature to transfer unappropriated cash balances from these trust funds to the Budget Stabilization Fund and General Revenue Fund.

SB 306 will now move to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development.

AIF supports legislative efforts to protect and increase access to safe and affordable housing for Florida’s workforce on which businesses in the state depend on.


HB 1139 – Relating to Regional Rural Development Grants

On Tuesday, February 4, HB 1139 by Representative Chuck Clemons (R-Jonesville) was heard by the House Workforce Development & Tourism Subcommittee and was reported favorable with 12 yeas and 1 nay. AIF stood in support of this legislation.

Three regional economic development organizations operate in Florida. Each coincides respectively with one of the state’s three Rural Areas of Opportunity (RAO). A RAO is a rural community, or a region comprised of rural communities, which has been adversely affected by an extraordinary economic event, severe or chronic distress, or a natural disaster, or that presents a unique economic development opportunity of regional impact.

The bill amends the Regional Rural Development Grants Program to clarify how regional economic development organizations may build their professional capacity and expand grant use for technical assistance. The bill also increases the total annual grant award available to the three regional economic development organizations recognized by the DEO as serving an entire RAO, decreases the annual grant award available to other organizations located in or contracted to serve an RAO, and eliminates grant eligibility for organizations representing rural counties or communities that are not located in a RAO. Additionally, the bill reduces the percentage of grant funds that must be matched with non-state funds from 100 percent to 25 percent of the state’s contribution and increases the maximum amount of funds that DEO may expend for the program, from $750,000 to $1 million annually.

Finally, the amends the Rural Infrastructure Fund by increasing the percentage of total infrastructure costs that may be funded by a grant award, expanding eligible projects and uses to include broadband internet service.

HB 1139 will now move to the House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee.

AIF supports efforts to increase economic development in Florida’s rural areas by increasing job growth. 


SB 362 – Relating to Florida Tourism Marketing

On Wednesday, February 5, SB 362 by Senator Ed Hooper (R-Palm Harbor) was heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee and was reported favorable with 20 yeas and 0 nays. AIF’s Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs, Brewster Bevis, stood in support of this legislation.

The bill extends the scheduled repeal date for the Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation, doing business as VISIT FLORIDA, until October 1, 2028, and removes the scheduled repeal date for the Division of Tourism Marketing within Enterprise Florida, Inc. Without the bill, the statutory provisions for these entities will be repealed on July 1, 2020.

SB 362 will now go to the House for consideration.

AIF supports investment in building a world-class marketing engine with top talent, analytics, and funding that develops and executes data-driven branding strategies.