State session ends, home rule retained

Following a short extension, the legislative session in Tallahassee has ended.

And Anna Maria Island officials can rest assured that home rule is safe for another year.

The session was extended to compile the budget, including new Florida Health Department funding for COVID-19 testing and supplies.

Bills that would have preempted regulation of vacation rentals to the state, died in committees before making it to final votes.

Holmes Beach lobbyist Martha Edenfield wrote city commissioners March 16 that of 1,699 bills filed, only 188 bills passed both chambers.

“Legislation on sovereign immunity, the preemption of local licenses, the preemption of vacation rentals, legislation amending the Bert Harris Act and the reduction of the communications services tax all failed passage,” Edenfield wrote.

Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach have developed regulations for trash, noise, parking and occupancy issues at vacation rentals that would have been eliminated if the bills had been passed.

Holmes Beach Commissioner Terry Schaefer, who followed bills of concern during the session, said March 18 that he was pleased with the outcome and grateful to island residents for writing and speaking with their state representatives.

“I think we all feel, as we have in the past two or three years, that we dodged a bullet, but I think it’s largely attributable to all the pressure put on state legislators hearing from communities, the public and their beliefs on cities governing themselves on issues,” he said. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation, nor should it ever be.”