Lawmakers vote to kill Enterprise Florida agency

TALLAHASSEE — After the Senate made changes, the Florida House on Thursday approved a plan to close the Enterprise Florida business-recruitment agency.

The House unanimously passed the revised bill (HB 5), shortly after the Senate voted 36-1 to approve the measure. Sen. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville, cast the dissenting vote.

House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, congratulated House bill sponsor Tiffany Esposito, R-Fort Myers, and noted that he tried to pass similar legislation in the past.

“I didn’t get it done, but you did. So, congratulations on putting our tax dollars in the right place,” Renner said.

The measure, which is ready to go to Gov. Ron DeSantis, would fold more than 20 programs from the public-private Enterprise Florida into the Department of Economic Opportunity, which would be renamed the Department of Commerce.

The Florida Sports Foundation and Visit Florida would become direct-service organizations of the department. The measure also would repeal the Office of Film and Entertainment.

Changes made by the Senate included providing $6.4 million to the department to cover the costs of picking up the economic-development programs and salaries for 20 full-time employees.

The House has tried for years to eliminate programs such as Enterprise Florida.

A deal was reached after the House agreed to increase funding for the Visit Florida tourism-marketing agency from $50 million in the current fiscal year to $80 million in the 2023-2024 fiscal year, which will start July 1.


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