The House passed a bill Wednesday that would crack down on the rise of rowdy pop-up events in Florida.
The proposal (HB 1435) would empower local sheriffs and leaders to more effectively respond to large, unpermitted gatherings.
Ormond Beach Republican Rep. Tom Leek is the bill sponsor. The House passed the bill along a 90-26 vote without debate.
“We need modern laws to deal with a modern problem and how pop-up events and these invasions are coming in and shutting down our towns,” Leek said.
Under the bill, a Sheriff may designate a “special event zone” if a gathering is promoted on social media, attended by more than 50 individuals and disrupting street traffic.
Within the zone, authorities may double fines for noncriminal traffic citations. They also may enforce occupancy limits and impound a vehicle for up to 72 hours for a traffic infraction.
Lawmakers took up the bill Tuesday, leading some Democratic lawmakers to raise concerns about the proposal.
Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani of Orlando suggested the bill is an extension of last year’s “anti-riot” bill — a proposal acclaimed by Gov. Ron DeSantis that cracked down on riots and protests.
She also feared the bill may disproportionately affect young people, communities of color and demonstrators.
Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Angie Nixon, meanwhile, posed a region-specific question, asking Leek how the bill may impact the famous Florida-Georgia football party.
Hosted in Jacksonville, the rivalry game draws national crowds and inspires a tailgate experience commonly known as the “largest outdoor cocktail party.”
“Hopefully not at all,” quipped Leek.
Leek maintains the bill solely targets social media-driven events. The bill’s staff analysis cites a series of events in Daytona Beach, which may include “Orlando Invades Daytona.”
The event in 2020 drew massive crowds and led to a bridge closure and a city lockdown. Police struggled to contain the pop-up event as it sprawled across several blocks in Volusia County.
“With this bill, we can start to give our local governments and our law enforcement the tools to give our neighborhoods back to the residents,” Leek said.
The bill now awaits Senate consideration.