Gov. Rick Scott hears requests to repeal vacation rental law during Bradenton visit

Manatee County leaders hope to regain local regulation of vacation homes

cschelle@bradenton.comOctober 28, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Gov. Rick Scott heard the pleas of Manatee County's elected leaders Monday morning to repeal the state's vacation rental rules.

Scott stopped at the Peach's Restaurant on Manatee Avenue for breakfast with about a dozen officials to talk about local issues. The vacation rental issues documented in Sunday's Bradenton Herald dominated the conversation.

In 2011, lawmakers passed House Bill 883, blocking local governments from "regulating, restricting or prohibiting" vacation rentals and, with some grandfathered exceptions, giving most control to the state. State Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, is leading a movement to repeal the law, and has the support of several Manatee County leaders.

Scott says he's willing to listen.

"I want to look at it, I want to understand the issue," Scott told the Herald following his breakfast gathering. "They're going to give me information. I think they said Sen. Thrasher and Rep. (Travis) Hudson were going to do a repeal law, so as soon

I get the information we'll look at it."

Manatee County and the Florida League of Cities, representing 410 municipalities across the state, support the introduction of a bill calling for a repeal. Possible opponents might include organizations representing vacation rental managers and owners, as well as Florida Realtors.

When the bill passed the Florida House, members of Manatee County's delegation who voted in favor included state Reps. Jim Boyd and Greg Steube, both R-Bradenton.

Breakfast attendees included County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn, Bradenton Beach Mayor John Shaughnessy, Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti, Longboat Key Mayor Jim Brown, former State Senate President John McKay and Boyd.

State Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, also joined the breakfast. He withdrew a repeal amendment last year because of a procedural issue.

"When you pre-empt local control, there will always be those who take advantage of it or abuse it," Galvano said. "We espouse the idea that government closer to the people is the best form of government, and there's a reason for that. Local people know the community, they know what their constituents have to deal with."

Other topics at the breakfast included beach renourishment, Port Manatee's potential, operation of the Department of Economic Opportunity and vacant board positions.

The breakfast, which was planned last Friday, surprised diners Bill and Becky Wessel of northwest Bradenton. After spotting the governor, the couple wrote a handwritten napkin note to Scott, thanking him for his work.

"We appreciate all the conservative moves he's made, controlling spending," Becky Wessel said.

Bill Wessel then weighed in, saying it's best if Scott would have a hands-off approach to local government -- and essentially "leave us alone."

Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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