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Business Observer Friday, Sep. 11, 2015 6 years ago

Tallahassee gets early start

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Late summer might seem like an odd time to chat about upcoming happenings at the state Legislature, given the session recently ended.

Late summer might seem like an odd time to chat about upcoming happenings at the state Legislature, given the session recently ended.

But for Carol Dover, one of the more well-known lobbyists in Florida, this is the best time to get the word out about what's next in Tallahassee. One reason: The two-month legislative session begins in January next year, not March, so legislators can get back home sooner for election season. Dover, president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, spoke about several industry issues at the fifth annual FRLA Suncoast Chapter luncheon, held recently at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota.

Among the most pressing issues and would-be laws that will likely impact hospitality: gaming and gambling laws, alcohol regulations and where and how funds generated from bed taxes are used. The last point, says Dover, is something she constantly watches, that bed tax money is used to promote the hospitality industry, not some other cause. “Every time we turn around,” Dover says, “it seems someone in Tallahassee wants your bed tax for their use.”

Gaming will be back on the docket in 2016, projects Dover, in a big way. The association's members include entities with a gaming component, such as the Seminole Tribe of Florida. But Dover says the organization is against general expansion of gambling, like some propose. “We are talking about the cannibalization of our industry,” says Dover. “We think there's a better way to do it.”

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