Dear Members and Advocates,

We want to send a special thank you to all who have responded to our Call to Action on HB 987. Feedback we are receiving from members who reached out to legislators and organizations in the hospitality industry is that several groups, not just ours, are opposed to the Bill. HB 987 would require persons required to register as sex offenders to notify the sheriff in the county where they intend to stay in a hotel/motel/vacation rental 48 hours before arrival, no matter how long they would stay. It would also require the operators of a hotel/motel/vacation rental to notify all guests if a registrant was staying at or within 1000 feet of the property.

Not only does it create a compliance nightmare (how do you pre-report 48 hours in a county before you arrive there?) but also imposes a penalty on the owners of hotels/motels/vacation rentals if they don’t comply. One has to presume that hotels would sooner refuse to allow all registrants to stay at their hotel than have the burden of notifying every guest, or that hotels located within 1000 feet of a registrant’s home would be instantly financially impacted. Worse than the burden on the registrants and worse than the burden on the operators, is the fact that there is ZERO evidence of increased risk from persons required to register at hotels/motels/vacation rentals. It’s just another feel-good law that will do more harm than good to our State.

Whether or not HB 987 goes anywhere, the response to our call to action was impressive and served as a reminder that we constantly need to watch what goes on in the Florida legislature. In the case of HB 987, one representative introduced the “sex offender” amendment to the bill late in the game. If we are not diligent and watching what happens carefully, it would be easy to sneak in something and make it seem like there’s no opposition to it.

Another reminder that came from this Call to Action is the importance of stepping up and pitching in for ALL of our efforts. Some of you might have received the email with the alert and thought, ‘I won’t bother responding to this one because I don’t travel that much.’ Keep in mind, when an issue that does impact you personally comes around, you will want to know you have our entire organization behind you. It is also important to capture every opportunity to remind legislators and the public how draconian and nonsensical these laws are. It may seem unlikely for sex offender reform advocates and hospitality industry lobbyists to be aligned, but when it comes to a Bill like HB 987, we’re fighting side-by-side.

These are the moments we need to stand up!

Sincerely,

The Florida Action Committee

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