Florida’s vaunted tourism marketing program is in disarray, weeks after Gov. Rick Scott brokered a back-room compromise with House Speaker Richard Corcoran to salvage tourism money for one more year.
Visit Florida, which relies on tax dollars to promote the state to visitors worldwide, kept its $76 million budget for another year — but it came at a very steep price.
Concerned about possible liability under a sweeping new disclosure law, a dozen county tourism groups, including Visit Tampa Bay and the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, have broken off co-op advertising partnerships with Visit Florida.
“We have not renewed our partnership as we often would do,” said Visit Tampa Bay spokesman Patrick Harrison. “We still don’t have a clear idea as to quite what the new regulations mean. We’re kind of in a wait-and-see pattern.”
Harrison said Visit Tampa Bay interprets a new law to require local tourism board members, who serve without pay but who also have full-time jobs in the private sector, to disclose their income.
A little-noticed provision in the congressional bill overhauling the U.S. immigration system that President Donald Trump endorsed Wednesday would abolish a program that has brought billions of dollars into the United States — including hundreds of millions for Florida — from foreign immigrants who get visas and green cards in return for investments in job-creating projects.
Most of the extremely heated discussion of the plan has focused on its broadest features, including cutting the number of legal immigrants by half and de-emphasizing family reunification in favor of immigrants with particular job skills.
But a few paragraphs in the bill written in the opaque style of official Washington also eliminate the EB-5 visa program, which by some estimates has funneled more than $18 billion in overseas cash into U.S. business development since 2008.
Florida is paying attorneys who represented the state and national Democratic Party more than $82,000.
Court records filed last week show the administration of Gov. Rick Scott agreed to pay the money to end a lawsuit over the state’s vote-by-mail law.
Sarah Revell, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Ken Detzner, verified the amount that will be paid.
The Florida Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee sued the state last year because the law did not require voters to be notified if their signatures on their ballot and voter registration forms don’t match. A federal judge called the law “illogical” and “bizarre.”
The Florida Legislature changed the law this spring.