Session Review: Online travel battle to continue in courts

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Lawmakers ended the session Friday without resolving a years-long fight between online-travel companies and counties about hotel bed taxes. That likely means the issue will continue slogging through the courts. For instance, numerous counties and online-travel companies, such as Expedia and Orbitz, have been battling in lawsuits filed in 2009 in Leon County. The companies, which serve as middlemen between hotels and travelers, charge customers for room rentals and fees related to providing the service. The dispute centers on whether the online-travel companies should have to pay tourist-development taxes on the total cost, or only on the portion that goes for room rental. Bills were filed in the House and Senate to try to resolve the issue, but they never received committee votes.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.