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Bill sponsor bows out of fight over short-term vacation rentals

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The Senate sponsor of legislation crimping local restrictions on Airbnb and other home vacation rentals abruptly cried uncle Monday — confusing a committee room full of lobbyists, plus a few committee members. Sen. Greg Steube acquiesced in a late amendment by Sen. Jeff Brandes that essentially gutted his bill. CS/SB 188, as amended, passed on a vote of 5-3. “Just to be clear, this allows cities to currently do anything they that they currently can do under current law,” Steube…

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Bottoms up: Beer, booze bills clear Senate committee

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beer booze cheers

Let freedom pour: Bills aimed at changing beer and booze regulations in Florida have cleared their latest review panel. The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee OK’d measures that would allow beer distributors to give free branded beer glasses to bars and restaurants, authorize beer companies to advertise in theme parks and let craft distillers sell more bottles directly to consumers. Sen. Frank Artiles, the Miami-Dade Republican sponsoring the glass bill (SB 1040), told committee members the measure would benefit small businesses…

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Senate Judiciary Committee gives big win for ridesharing regulation

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Momentum remains strong in Tallahassee for the first bill in Florida to regulate ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft. On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the proposal (SB 340) unanimously without debate. The bill, sponsored by St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes, would require ride-sharing companies to carry $100,000 of insurance for bodily injury or death and $25,000 for property damage while a driver is logged onto their app but hasn’t secured a passenger. While with a rider, drivers would be required to have $1…

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Bill to deregulate vacation rentals advances in House Committee

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A bill to repeal all local ordinances and regulations on vacation rental homes, rolling them back to 2011 levels, advanced Tuesday in the House Careers and Competition Subcommittee. The proposal, by St. Cloud Republican Mike LaRosa (HB 425), would require local governments in Florida to treat vacation rental homes like any other home in any given neighborhood. In discussing the legislation, LaRosa fumed against what he called “an obscene” amount of local ordinances around the state against vacation homes. “We’ve seen ordinances…

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Senate Education Committee talks testing tweaks

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The Florida Senate Education Committee dedicated most of its weekly meeting to tackling issues of assessment bloat running counter to students’ best interests. In the House, the motto has been “fewer, better tests.” Similarly, in the Senate, the bills that have spurred the most comment from committee members are those that address Florida’s testing protocols. At the meeting, representatives from the Florida Department of Education discussed current education accountability standards. Mary Jane Tappen, vice chancellor of K-12 education, laid out the high…

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With little debate, Senate advances Greg Steube’s courthouse carry gun bill

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A proposal to allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to store firearms with security officers at courthouses advanced in the Florida Senate Wednesday. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube (SB 616), is one of 10 firearms-related pieces of legislation the Sarasota Republican has introduced in the current Session. Unlike many of those proposals, however, opposition to this bill isn’t as fevered in comparison. Steube added an amendment to his bill that would define what a courthouse is. The current statute (790.06) explicitly refers to a “courthouse.” “Would you…

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Greg Steube called out by hometown paper for vacation rental bill

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Republican Rep. Greg Steube was called out in an op-ed in his hometown paper, the Sarasota Herald Tribune, for his sponsorship of a bill that would preempt local governments when it comes to vacation rentals. Steube’s bill, SB 188, would prohibit local laws enacted after a certain June 1, 2011, from barring or regulating vacation rentals, such as those found through online booking sites such as AirBnB. Steube said the matter “boils down to a property right,” and that his…

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