Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desire to look at the effectiveness of the state’s tourism-marketing arm could save the embattled state tourist agency Visit Florida for at least another year. Meanwhile, a decision must be reached before “sine die” on Friday.

House Speaker José Oliva – one of Visit Florida’s leading critics -- signaled Friday he may be willing to go along with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request to keep it open, as the legislative session approaches the 11th hour.

“The governor’s office has expressed a desire to have it continued, to go forward, so that he would have the opportunity to make an assessment of his own of how unnecessary it is,” Oliva told reporters after the House floor session. “I don’t know about fully funding it, but obviously it is something that the governor wants to see and it’s something that he wants to be able to assess, and we want to be supportive of him.”

The House has yet to take up Senate Bill 178 — which would reauthorize Visit Florida beyond its current legal expiration date of October 1st. Approved 36-0 by the Senate, the measure would extend the life of Visit Florida until Oct. 1st, 2027, and provide the agency with $50 million next fiscal year.

As the bill foundered, the Senate agreed in ongoing budget talks to meet a House proposal of providing $19 million for Visit Florida. That would cover the agency’s expenses until its demise on October 1st.

“What I think is important is that we separate out the fact of Visit Florida and tourism markets; I think we can have a broader conversation as we move forward throughout the rest of the session, as budget negotiations continue to go back and forth,” says House Majority Leader Jay Trumbull of Panama City.


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