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Rebuilding Florida’s brand won’t be easy in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

AFP/Getty Images

Hurricane Irma’s state-engulfing radar signature and widespread damage will be a hard image to shake, but tourism experts say Florida’s biggest industry will rebound.

Jenn Greiving via Wikimedia Commons

After a bare knuckle legislative fight, lawmakers are revisiting their decision to slash funding for Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida.  The governor sees the agencies as vital to growing the state economy.

Florida Channel

The Florida Legislature may have sent an $82.4 billion dollar budget to Governor Rick Scott Monday, but Scott is still indicating he may veto it.

Visit Florida

Governor Rick Scott is catching some serious heat for shooting a Visit Florida ad in a Washington, D.C. studio.

Visit Florida

Visit Florida is fighting for economic survival the only way it knows how, through a marketing campaign.

Governor Rick Scott.
The Florida Channel

Florida Governor Rick Scott is now calling for $100 million dollars in tourism money—almost 25 percent more than he outlined in his spending plan early this year.  

Florida Governor Rick Scott, who is widely believed to be eyeing a U.S. Senate seat, is taking to the airwaves next week to defend corporate incentives.

Rep. Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) flanked by Rep. Jose Oliva and Speaker Richard Corcoran.
Nick Evans

House Speaker Richard Corcoran got his bills, and he got enough Democrats to build a veto-proof majority.  The lower chamber has approved legislation to scale back Visit Florida and eliminate Enterprise Florida.

Rep. Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast)
Mark Foley via FL House website

It appears a one million dollar contract could cost Visit Florida much, much more.  The House is moving forward with a plan to cut the agency’s funding by two thirds and establish more stringent oversight.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R-Land O Lakes) flanked by top lieutenant Rep. Jose Oliva (R-Miami)
Nick Evans

The Florida legislative session has begun, which means it’s time to get serious about the state’s budget.  But the past few months of prologue have done little to bring the parties together.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran
Richard Corcoran via twitter / https://twitter.com/richardcorcoran

One of the big debates taking shape this legislative session is about state involvement in economic development. The capitol’s powerbrokers are picking sides in the battle, which is threatening to derail session before it even begins.

Rep. Randy Fine (R-Brevard Co.) reading his letter to Governor Rick Scott.
Nick Evans

Florida’s Governor and House leaders are at each other’s throats over funding for Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida.  Murmurs are growing louder lawmakers will need a special session to agree on a budget.  Both sides are digging in, and the battle lines are becoming clear in a recent letter.

Rep. Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast)
Mark Foley via FL House website

The Florida House appears ready to take its incentives fight with Governor Rick Scott into the legislative session.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott
State of Florida, Meredyth Hope Hall

Florida Governor Rick Scott is crisscrossing the state calling out lawmakers by name for voting to gut two state agencies.

Standing room only as House lawmakers discuss a proposal to eliminate Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida.
Nick Evans

The Florida House is tightening the noose around two state agencies.  The idea faces high hurdles in the Senate and the governor’s mansion, but the fight sets the stage for big cuts as lawmakers develop spending plans.

MGN Online

Despite a predicted slow down during the cooler winter season, the Zika virus continues plaguing Florida.

Destin
Phil Horton via flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/plh9026/

A philosophical debate is taking shape in the Florida Capitol about what role the government should play in the economy. How lawmakers come down on economic development programs could have real consequences for Governor Rick Scott’s top priorities.

Visit Florida / http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us.html

The state’s publicly funded tourism agency has a new director. The leadership change comes as state lawmakers begin debating whether Visit Florida, and similar agencies, should exist at all.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran
Richard Corcoran via twitter / https://twitter.com/richardcorcoran

A fight over conservative principles in the Florida Capitol took an interesting turn this week, sweeping up the rapper Pitbull and even landing on the celebrity gossip site TMZ. The fight over economic development programs hints at the conflicts that could drive the upcoming session.

@pitbull / Twitter

Pitbull was paid a million dollars by the state tourism arm Visit Florida to be a so-called Brand Ambassador. The rapper released the contract via twitter Thursday after the state House filed a lawsuit.

'Sexy Beaches' Get Rocky As Florida House Sues Over Pitbull Contract

Dec 13, 2016
@pitbull / Twitter

Florida lawmakers want a judge to force a production company to say how much Armando Christian Perez, better known as the rapper Pitbull, was paid by the state's tourism-marketing arm to be a musical ambassador.

Katie Wheeler via flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/almostsummersky/

With tragedies at home and abroad, Florida has been inundated with bad news this summer, which can affect the public’s travel plans. WFSU takes the pulse of the state’s tourism industry.

Mr. Worldwide himself
Eva Rinaldi via Flickr

A Miami-area performer who bills himself as Mr. Worldwide is narrowing his focus somewhat.  Visit Florida will be working with Pitbull to promote tourism, but the partnership could be courting controversy.

wfsu
Julie Fletcher for Visit Florida / WFSU News

Visit Florida is teaming up with a popular television show for an advertising campaign and pet photo contest. The winner walks away with a $10,000 trip to Florida. But, state officials are banking on the program creating a return on investment in the form of tourism.

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