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Senate Ties Tourism Funding to Sunscreen

Florida Senate leaders are putting up money to keep the state’s tourism arm alive, despite an effort by the state House to scrap the agency.

But the Senate's $50 million for Visit Florida comes with a hitch: The agency would be barred from promoting communities that have banned certain sunscreens.

“I don’t want that brand to be changed from the Sunshine State to the melanoma capital of the world,” Senate Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine, said after his panel signed off on the spending plan Wednesday.

The subcommittee’s fiscal proposal includes $50 million for Visit Florida --- less than the $76 million Gov. Ron DeSantis is asking for the agency --- and $18 million for Enterprise Florida, the state’s business-recruitment agency that the House no longer wants to underwrite.

Neither chamber's proposal includes funding for the Job Growth Grant Fund, which was a compromise created for former Gov. Rick Scott in 2017 as the House sought to shut down Enterprise Florida and other state-backed economic incentive programs.

DeSantis has requested maintaining the $85 million annual spending on the fund, which is located within the Department of Economic Opportunity and is directed at regional infrastructure and workforce-training programs. Scott, now a U.S. senator, distributed the current year’s funding shortly before DeSantis took office in January.

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