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Oh Canada! Lawmakers aim to give Canadian snowbirds more time in Sunshine State

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida’s senators want to give Canadian snowbirds two more months a year in the Sunshine State.

Thursday, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott announced the Canadian Snowbirds Act, legislation that would allow some Canadian visitors to stay in the U.S. up to eight months. Current law limits them to six months.

3.5 million Canadians visited Florida last year alone, according to VISIT Florida. The Canadian Embassy says Canadians who visit Florida contribute more than $6.5 billion each year to the state’s economy.

The snowbird legislation is limited to Canadians 50 and older who own or rent property in the U.S.

Robin Miller, CEO of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce says that’s still a big enough contingency to be an economic asset for the area.

“The longer Canadians can stay here, the more impact economically they have to our region,” she said.

St. Pete restaurant owner Renaud Cowez is French but says he has many Canadian friends and clientele. He’s one of the countless Tampa Bay area business owners that could benefit from the Canadian Snowbirds Act, if passed.

“More people in the restaurant, that’s how I look at it,” he said. Cowez just opened new eatery Tropez on Central Ave. a little over a month ago.

Based on what he knows from his Canadian clients and friends, many would stay in Florida longer if the could.

“I think they like the lifestyle here better, you know?” he said.

Similar bills have been proposed in years past but never went anywhere in Congress.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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