Hager, Brandes bills take ‘pre-emptive’ stance on lodging for military members

Members of the military would be able to rent hotel and motel rooms in Florida regardless of their age, under bills beginning their trip through the state House and Senate this session.

State Rep. Bill Hager

Sponsored in the House by Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton, and Senate by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St Petersburg, the measure would require overnight facilities to waive age restrictions on room rentals for travelers with a military ID card.

Some commercial lodgings require renters to be a certain age, which could leave a traveling member of the military literally without a place to spend the night.

That’s what happened to a 20-year-old soldier traveling in the Atlanta are, according to a Snopes.com post Hager’s office received from a constituent, Hager aide Beth Lerner wrote in an email Thursday.

“We haven’t heard of anything in Florida,” Lerner wrote. “It’s pre-emptive.”

But still important, Hager said.

“Whether they are just passing through on their way to a new station or bringing their family to visit our beautiful beaches or fantastic theme parks while on leave from service, our military deserve our appreciation for their service as well as the ability to stay in one our many hotels, motels or bed and breakfasts,” he said in a news release.
State Sen. Jeff Brandes

While the bills have only begun their way through the committee process, Lerner said Hager is “absolutely optimistic” it will pass.

“Florida is known as a military friendly state,” she wrote. “This makes it more so.”

It’s certainly getting no opposition one group most likely to be affected. Carol Dover, president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association said the bill would codify what is already standard practice at many Florida facilities.

“We are incredibly thankful for the men and women who serve our country and defend the freedoms that make Florida a wonderful place to live, work and play,” Dover said in an email.

“Most of our hotel members already waive certain policies and show great hospitality to our military, especially to those under 21.  This proposed bill just reinforces our respect for those in uniform.”

In the House, the bill is designated HB 277. Its companion in the Senate is SB 394.



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