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Florida Lawmakers Could Ban Hourly Rates At Hotels To Reduce Human Trafficking

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) -- Hourly rates would be prohibited at hotels and other lodging establishments across Florida under a bill aimed at reducing human trafficking.

The House Commerce Committee on Tuesday unanimously advanced the bill (HB 1439), after removing parts of it that would have prohibited hourly rates at vacation-rental properties and required guests at lodging establishments to show identification.

Rep. Fiona McFarland, a Sarasota Republican who proposed the changes, said there is a "fine line" to protect privacy, while also pointing to potential implementation problems for operators of lodging establishments.

"We would love to be able to write a law that says if you intend to commit lewd acts on our property, please show your ID first," McFarland said. "But we also have to protect the privacy and the right to commerce and privacy of anyone else who wants to rent a room."

Committee Chairman Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, said checks are already in place when people pay with credit cards.

"They're pretty much going to have a pretty good idea who is renting the room, because, worst-case scenario, if they break something, they're going to want to have some sort of recourse to know who it is," Ingoglia said.

But Rep. Michael Grieco, D-Miami Beach, said it's not a burden to present an ID when checking into a hotel. Rep. Matt Willhite, D-Wellington, added the amendment appeared to weaken the argument for protecting people against human trafficking.

"You know, we keep hearing IDs are good for voter ID. Why aren't they good for verifying sexual predators are staying in our neighborhoods or in our hotels, or you know, living right next door to someone that maybe shouldn't be," Willhite said.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, needs to get approval from the Judiciary Committee before it could go to the full House.

(©2022 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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