FYI Miami: March 18, 2021
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TOURISM STIMULUS: Gov. Ron DeSantis pitched plans to use $260 million coming to Florida from a federal stimulus package to cover losses incurred at ports over the past year, in part because of “no sail order” for passenger cruises. He had already requested that Visit Florida receive $50 million for marketing next fiscal year and on Tuesday proposed another $50 million for the agency. “I think that with the advent of these (Covid-19) vaccines, you’re already seeing people feel really good about traveling,” he said. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand, we believe. We know there’s a lot of money on the sidelines for people who haven’t been doing some of the things they would normally be doing. And then, we obviously want Florida to be the beneficiary of that when people start getting back into the mix on enjoying themselves in traveling, visiting places.”
STADIUM FUND SUNSET: A proposal is in play to eliminate state money approved in 2014 to help build and renovate professional sports stadiums. The House Ways & Means Committee last week voted 16-1 to repeal the program, which has never been used. Sponsor Mike Beltran said that would prevent taxes from being “diverted to professional sports facilities in lieu of other public infrastructure.” He added, “Sports teams are going to play here whether we pay them or not.” The program makes available $13 million a year for professional stadiums and events administered by the Breeders’ Cup Limited and NASCAR. It was set up to prevent a repeat of the type of lobbying that occurred in 2013 when the Miami Dolphins unsuccessfully sought $350 million for stadium upgrades. Rep. Dianne Hart said Tampa is still paying for its facilities and “we’re getting no real benefits back.” Other programs send $2 million a year from sales taxes to eight Florida facilities, including Hard Rock Stadium and AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.
SNUFF THEM OUT: A Florida Senate committee on Monday unanimously approved a bill that would allow counties and cities to restrict smoking on beaches and public parks they own but not cigar or pipe smoking. Florida has 67 county park systems and more than 400 municipal park systems.
PROGRESSIVE NORTH BAY: North Bay Village commissioners last week approved what the municipality is calling “a progressive green building code” to boost sustainability and environmentally friendly infrastructure. On March 9, the commission OK’d an ordinance intended to incentivize green roofs, electric vehicle charging stations and solar panels in new construction, among other elements. The ordinance will immediately affect all new development and redevelopment in the three-island village, from multi-family and residential to hotel and mixed projects.