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Ron DeSantis cold on vacation rental preemption

DeSantis signals break with GOP on short-term rental preemption.

Legislation is moving to preempt regulation of vacation rentals to the state, but it may not get past the Governor’s desk.

Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters that, while he has “not made a final decision,” he has “expressed privately to some of the members of the Legislature … concerns about that.”

Among the gubernatorial qualms: “We’re going to be in charge of this as a state? We have 22 million people, almost. Very diverse state. For us to be micromanaging vacation rentals, I’m not sure that’s the right thing to do.”

“Look, these are things where you’ll have kind of a quiet neighborhood and then you’ll have someone doing it and there’s parties going on and some of the residents get upset.”

“My view,” said DeSantis, “is probably that should be determined locally.”

“If you don’t like how they’re handling it, then you probably do that. So that’s probably where I’m leaning right now,” the Governor added.

He’s “listening to arguments,” he said, but for those who have tracked the progress of this bill, the arguments tend to be mostly in favor of local control, with people coming from around the state to voice displeasure with the legislation.

The Senate legislation (SB 1128), carried by Sen. Manny Diaz, has one committee stop ahead before the Senate floor. The House bill (HB 1011) has cleared all three committees of reference, and should be cleared for the House calendar soon.

The proposed legislation protects from local regulation rentals offered via an “advertising platform,” which provides software and online access to listings for “transient public lodging establishment[s]” in the state.

Just as the state regulates public lodging (hotels and motels) and food service establishments, so too would Airbnb, VRBO, and the like.

Last week, the House Commerce Committee aligned the bills by adding language that would require online platforms to collect and remit taxes on vacation rental properties. The changes would also ensure that only licensed rentals are advertised.

Local governments would still be able to regulate problems like noise, parking and trash as long as the vacation rentals were regulated the same as other homes in their jurisdiction.

DeSantis’ note of caution mirrors a concern expressed by one future Senate president in committee.

Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican who will lead the Republican caucus, cautioned that the Legislature “can’t just preempt. We have to preempt and set parameters.”

Perhaps, however, preemption may not happen at all, if the Governor’s comments are any indication.

Just as the Governor’s veto of bans on local plastic straw bans surprised some last year, this year’s break with the GOP legislative majority may be on the matter of VRBO, Airbnb, and the like.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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