With the conclusion of the 2011 Florida legislative session, we wanted to provide an update on the status of several bills that were introduced in the 2011 legislative session that would have the most significant impact on the hospitality industry. For businesses in the hospitality space, the session may have been more notable for the bills introduced but not passed.
HB 5005--Deregulation and Seller of Travel
As we discussed in a previous post, HB 5005 was a 281-page cost-cutting effort that would have, among other things, eliminated nearly all of the Florida licensing and registration requirements relating to the sale of timeshare and fractional interests, as well the sale of vacation certificates under Florida's Seller of Travel law. After our post summarizing HB 5005, the bill was amended to remove the elimination of the licensing and registration requirements related to the sale of timeshare and fractional interests. Despite these amendments to HB 5005, the bill still faced significant opposition and ultimately failed to pass in the Florida Senate.
SB 376--Online Travel Companies
SB 376 provided that online travel companies such as Expedia and Priceline would only be required to pay transient rentals tax based on the wholesale rate such companies negotiated for the rental of hotel rooms, rather than higher retail rate that customers are ultimately charged. Although SB 376 was strongly supported by the online travel companies, many traditional hoteliers opposed the bill and argued that, if passed, SB 376 would provide online travel companies with an unfair competitive advantage over traditional hoteliers. SB 376 ultimately did not pass the Florida Senate and consequently did not become law.
HB 1195--Condominium Bill
HB 1195 was signed into law by Governor Scott on June 21, 2011 and became effective on July 1, 2011. HB 1195 updates several of the provisions from condominium bills that were passed in the 2010 legislative session. In particular, HB 1195 includes the following revisions to the Condominium Act:
- clarifies the required qualifications of condominium board members
- allows condominium boards to hold closed meetings for the purpose of discussing personnel matters
- allows condominium associations to acquire leaseholds, memberships, and other possessory or use interests in golf courses, country clubs, marinas and other recreational facilities
- clarifies a condominium association's liability for outstanding assessments to a master association for units that the condominium association acquires through foreclosure
- provides that a condominium association may install impact glass or other code compliant windows that comply with the local building code
- updates the Fires Safety provisions of the Condominium Act
- clarifies what records constitute official records of a condominium association
- revises Part VII of the Condominium Act regarding distressed condominiums, bulk assignees and bulk buyers
- updates the procedures regarding how and in what amount a condominium association can fine a unit owner
- revises the situations and procedures for how a condominium may be terminated
HB 883--Pizza Flyer Bill
HB 883 was signed into law and became effective on June 2, 2011. Of particular note to the hospitality industry, HB 883 includes provisions known as the "Tourist Safety Act of 2011." The Tourist Safety Act of 2011 was drafted primarily to stop the practice of individuals entering hotel lobbies without the permission of hotel management or a hotel's owner and passing out unsolicited advertisements. The Tourist Safety Act of 2011 provides that any person who, without permission, delivers, distributes, or places, or attempts to deliver, distribute, or place, a handbill at or in a public lodging establishment commits a misdemeanor of the first degree and can be fined a minimum of $2,000 for a second violation, or $3,000 for a third or subsequent violation.