A Tale of Two Chambers

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Just as Senate President Joe Negron seems hell-bent on buying 60,000 acres from US Sugar for restoration projects south of Lake Okeechobee, House Speaker Richard Corcoran seems determined to kill Enterprise Florida and severely limit Visit Florida. The two agencies are darlings of Governor Rick Scott. They enjoyed the benefits of being a public entity when it was convenient to be public and the benefits of being a private entity when it was convenient to be private. This allowed these agencies to keep important financial information secret while still enjoying the benefits of things like tax exemptions and access to taxpayer money.

Following the bizarre scenario in which the rapper Pitbull was paid an undisclosed amount to make a video titled ”Sexy Beaches” to promote Florida tourism, Speaker Corcoran targeted these agencies for major transparency, budget, and regulation overhauls. On March 10th, the House voted to kill Enterprise Florida with HB7005. It also voted to reduce Visit Florida’s annual budget to $26 million from $75 million and institute regulations aimed at transparency with HB9. The House had enough votes to make the measures ‘veto-proof’, meaning more than a 2/3 majority. This surprised some in the Senate and sent a shock to Governor Scott. It prompted the Governor’s team to schedule a press conference and fill the Capitol with opponents of the bill on March 14th. Business interests from around the state came to the Capitol and argued that voting to kill and limit these tourism agencies are vital to the economy and will cost Florida many jobs. If you haven’t noticed, jobs are sort of Governor Scott’s thing. But Speaker Corcoran had strong words for these arguments and is convinced that Scott’s interests in the programs run deeper than the creation of blue-collar jobs.