Legislative Update – May 21, 2021 – Kathleen C. Passidomo

This week, Senators and Representatives met in Tallahassee for a special session on gaming. On May 19, 2021, the Florida Legislature approved the 2021 Gambling Compact proposed by Governor DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The newly approved 30-year gaming Compact restores the state’s relationship with the Tribe, preserves and offers new opportunities for Florida’s legacy pari-mutuel industry, and provides substantial new revenues for the State of Florida.
Today, the Governor signed HB 7061 into law, cutting $196.3 million in taxes for Floridians and establishing three tax-free holidays this summer. The first opportunity to shop tax-free begins May 28. During the Preparedness Tax-Free Holiday, Florida residents can save when they stock up on items to prepare for hurricane season, which begins June 1.

Gaming Compact Agreement Reached Between Florida Legislature This Week
This week, Florida lawmakers met to discuss and debate the 2021 Gaming Compact and related legislation.
As a sovereign nation, the Seminole Tribe has the right to offer gambling on its properties. Through a previously established agreement, the Tribe shared revenue with the state of Florida to support education, law enforcement and infrastructure, among other investments. However, since the agreement expired in 2015, the state has not benefited from this revenue.
The 2021 Gaming Compact was negotiated by Governor Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the State of Florida. The historic 30-year Compact restores Florida’s relationship with the Seminole Tribe, offers new opportunities for Florida’s legacy pari-mutuel industry, and provides substantial new revenues for our state. Importantly, it preserves Florida’s reputation as a family-friendly and safe world-class destination.
The goal of our legislation was to balance the requirements of federal Indian gaming law and Florida’s complex pari-mutuel regulatory structure, while also strengthening and enforcing restrictions against illegal and compulsive gambling. Responsible regulation is central to gaming, and as with other industries, such regulation should reflect current needs and current gaming violations and activities.
That is why we created an independent Gaming Control Commission to safeguard the public from illegal gaming activity and uphold the integrity of the industry.
The Compact also includes several provisions to help prevent compulsive gambling abuse, such as requiring the Seminole Tribe to make a substantial annual contribution ($250,000) per operational gaming facility to the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling.
Additionally, all advertising and marketing at tribal gaming facilities and all online betting sites must contain a responsible gaming message and a toll-free helpline number for gamblers.
The 2021 Compact will generate a minimum of $2.5 billion in new revenue for the state over the next five years and an estimated $6 billion through 2030.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted in favor to ratify the agreement. On Wednesday, the House voted to approve the measure.

Governor Signs Tax Relief Package to Help Floridians Find Cost Savings
On Friday, May 21, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 7061 which offers a variety of tax credits and holidays for Floridians to save on costs as many begin to rebuild beyond the pandemic. The approved tax package is expected to create $196.3 million in relief for Floridians.
This includes three tax holidays for Floridians. Two of which have historically played a major role in annual cost savings: Hurricane Disaster Preparedness Tax Holiday and the Back-to-School Tax Holiday.
The Florida Legislature expanded the dates and item eligibility to help Floridians take advantage of tax-free supplies needed to secure your homes from hurricanes and prepare our students for the new school year.
The Hurricane Disaster Preparedness Holiday runs from Friday, May 28 through June 6. The Back-to-School Tax Holiday begins July 31 until August 9.
In addition, Floridians can benefit from a new tax holiday: “2021 Freedom Week.” This holiday will allow Floridians to purchase eligible event tickets, outdoor gear and beach or boating items tax-free from July 1 through July 7.
The goal is to encourage Floridians to take advantage of the recreational and entertainment opportunities here in the Sunshine State and help support local economies and businesses.

Hurricane Season Is Rapidly Approaching, Are You Prepared?
Though the Atlantic Hurricane Season officially begins on June 1, forecasters have already spotted tropical storms forming as early as mid-May.
Visit FloridaDisaster.org to help your family and/or business establish a plan to remain safe in the event of a disaster.
Utilize this checklist to help keep you organized and plan your shopping list for the upcoming Disaster Preparedness Tax Holiday.
Stay informed and view the latest updates on hurricane forecasts here.

Save On Hurricane Supplies Starting May 28 During the Disaster Preparedness Tax Holiday
The tax relief package (HB 7061) Governor DeSantis signed into law this month includes the continuation of the annual Disaster Preparedness Tax Holiday. This year, the Florida Legislature expanded the tax-free savings to 10 days, which starts on Friday, May 28, and lasts until June 6.
Eligible items include:
· Portable self-powered light source selling for $40 or less;
· Certain portable radios selling for $50 or less;
· Tarps selling for $100 or less;
· Ground anchor systems or tie-down kits selling for $100 or less;
· A gas or diesel fuel tank selling for $50 or less;
· Packages of certain battery types, selling for $50 or less;
· A nonelectric food storage cooler selling for $60 or less;
· Portable generators for use in a power outage selling for $1,000 or less;
· Reusable ice selling for $20 or less; and
· Portable power banks selling for $60 or less.
Don’t wait, get prepared today!

Memorial Day Weekend Festivities in Southwest Florida
There are a variety of Memorial Day activities your family can safely participate in this year. Enjoy time at the beach, grill out in the backyard, attend a summer event or just keep it local this long weekend.
Many of Southwest Florida’s local restaurants and shops are offering opportunities for friends and family to gather for the holiday. You may find some local resources below.
· Beach Locations & Information
· Events
· Local Shopping & Sales

Fun Florida Activities for Your Family This Summer
As families and parents prepare for school to end next month, don’t let the education end outside of the classroom!
There are a variety of activities in Southwest Florida that can help your children exercise their minds and bodies.
View the links for summer activity ideas in your region:
· Collier County
· Hendry County
· Lee County

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office any time that I can be of assistance.

Kathleen C. Passidomo
Senate Rules Chair
State Senator, District 28

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