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Politics

Florida House Votes to Kill Enterprise Florida, Cut Visit Florida

March 10, 2017 - 12:45pm
Rick Scott and Richard Corcoran
Rick Scott and Richard Corcoran

The Florida House of Representatives has thrown down the gauntlet and sent Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida to their graves, voting to cut both agencies in a vote held Friday. 

House members gathered around the chamber and swiftly passed two bills to reform Visit Florida and kill off EFI, but not before hearing passionate debate from both sides on the hottest issue of this year’s legislative session.

State lawmakers passed the first bill to reform Visit Florida, which promotes tourism to the Sunshine State, approving the measure by an 80-35 vote.

Lawmakers have disagreed over whether or not to make changes to Visit Florida. Those in support of the measure said Florida is wasting its time pumping money into the agency and have questioned what kind of impact state dollars actually have on Florida tourism, while those in support of the legislation say it’s a good way to boost the state economy.

Once they had squared away with Visit Florida, lawmakers then moved on to legislation to eliminate Enterprise Florida and the debate became more intense.

Legislators spent significant time dinging EFI for failing to provide jobs in Florida and for favoring large companies over small businesses in the Sunshine State. 

Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami, criticized the state’s deal with online retailer Amazon -- one of Rick Scott’s proudest accomplishments as governor.

“To give a retailer's tax dollars to Amazon...I find offensive,” said Oliva.

Members opposed to the legislation feared it would have widespread impact on Floridians who desperately need jobs to make ends meet. 

House Speaker Richard Corcoran stood by, glaring with his arms folded as members spoke out against his number one legislative priority.

“Killing this program..will hurt people,” said Rep. Jay Fant, R-Jacksonville.  “I will not be a part of this.”

Ultimately, the House voted in favor of eliminating the agency, approving the measure by a vote of 87-28.

The twin agencies have been the largest source of controversy during this year’s legislative session. 

Gov. Rick Scott has fiercely objected the proposals, relentlessly attacking the legislation for being bad for the economy and for Florida families.

The governor embarked on a statewide tour in February revolved around Enterprise Florida. The mission of the tour was twofold: to promote both of the agencies and to criticize lawmakers who hopped onboard with Corcoran’s proposal to send them to meet their untimely ends.

Scott also used his political committee to create videos slamming Corcoran and state lawmakers and also paid for robocalls to trash Republicans who voted for the measure.

Scott, furious after the vote, quickly released a statement railing against lawmakers who voted in favor of the bill.

“Today’s actions by the House curb the mission of VISIT FLORIDA and bury it in more government bureaucracy – along with decimating Florida’s economic toolkit and the very programs which are directly tied to the creation of thousands of jobs for Florida families,” Scott said. 

"Many politicians who voted for these bills say they are for jobs and tourism,” he continued. “But, I want to be very clear – a vote for these bills was a vote to kill tourism and jobs in Florida. I will continue to fight for Florida jobs and never stop standing up for the families and businesses whose livelihood depend on a strong and growing economy."

 

 

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.

Comments

Who needs jobs and tourism anyway?

Hindsight is 20/20. You will soon find out, probably sooner than later, that you have made a grave error. However, we sometimes have to patronize.politicians that have no earthly clue what in the hell they are doing. Georgia will definitely capture your film industry with a vengance!

The State of Florida's industry is tourism and NOT movie making. Georgia has their peaches and peanuts, let 'em have the movies, while Florida holds onto and creates more REAL jobs for ALL Floridians.

As a PR Marketing Destinations promoting eco tourism. I feel that Visit Florida did there job now let the county's in the state market together at trade shows etc. as a small business you were never given the opportunity to get big money support like the Disney major hotel chains. I am happy for the change

Agree. Unless you town is Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa or A Disney you got little exposure from VF. Most Florida communities have a tourism agency in place. Visit Jacksonville is a terrific example of a well run, well maintained membership based Convention and Visitors Bureau. Let them get credit for the wonderful work they do to bring visitors to North Florida. It is about time!! I have never seen a Visit Florida sign in Washington D.C. metro with a photo of Cocoa Beach but saw multiple billboards and photos for Ft. Lauderdale. Sometimes Visit Florida hurts smaller Florida communities by taking potential visitors away from an area they may have considered visiting to go to the larger city VF is promoting. It is a double edged sword for depending on where you live.

As far as Enterprise Florida was a boondoggle to cause more financial pain , those jobs will come here to Florida because we have lower tax base and it is user friendly. 84 Million was not needed to throw away , someone mentioned the film industry , I have some facts that this did not provide jobs. I went to those subcommittee meetings on Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida and it was mind blowing all the people that were crying and had their hands out , I say quit spoon feeding and let business promote itself and give everyone a even playing field.

Governor Scott is one of the greatest Governor's that FL ever had. His guidance and actions have brought over one million jobs to FL. , and the "establishment" republicans in the legislature have fought him all the way. These are the same "establishment" republicans who wanted the idiot Jeb Bush for Pres. Thank God they lost their efforts on behalf of Bush. I am disgusted with this legislature and the way they have treated Rick Scott. I will not vote for any of them that voted against Scott's programs.

Rick Scott, thankfully, is at the downside of his term. This legislature is standing up to him and his wasteful spending ways. He has provided corporate welfare like no other Governor and now, finally, the Legislature is listening to the majority of voters who want the legislature to represent them and not go to bed with this Governor who is probably one of the worst we've had in modern times, next to bubba Bush!

Apparently, Fact Man doesn't realize that opinion and fact are not synonymous, nor that fact and rhetoric are not mutually exclusive.

Good! Bout time.

Well, FINALLY someone in Talahhassee seems be listening to their constituents (BUT, not everyone)!!! ("Koch Brothers", my azz !.. Seems like pandering politicians now a days need a "Bogeyman" (or two) to frighten their constituents...) Well WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE "pettifoggers"!!!!...We're "On to you !" AND we'll keep "emptying your legislative seats" until you "finally catch on"!

With the mistakes concerning releasing confidential information Enterprise Florida should had been addressed several years back. As for moving more businesses here......A business will move here if they find it good for their bottom line. The problem is that many business headquarters can move quickly because their work done electronically. That facilitates taking the money and then running when there is a better offer elsewhere. Large investments of the brick and mortar type stays. Unfortunately, much of the brick and mortar facilities are rented. The businesses have VERY LITTLE invested. As for Visitors.......Well if they want to come here they will, but Even Disney World competes against Disneyland.

Although I support the legislature in these actions it should be noted the the push to kill them cam from the Koch Brothers funded Americans for Prosperity who coincidentally passed out a bunch of campaign contributions to friendly legislators. Of course these same people took away funding from the film industry which sent a lot of jobs to Georgia. Lot of lip service but few jobs for Floridians.

Sorry Governor, They're (lawmakers) listening!

NO, they are not listening. It was these same lawmakers who tried to force Jeb Bush on us as the President. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now.

Hurray, facts won out over rhetoric and politics.

Exactly!

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