Liaran AlemanExecutive Notes and Comments Editor

snowbird is someone who travels to warm climates during the wintertime. Most international snowbirds come from Canada; they even have a Canadian Snowbird Association with over 80,000 members. For the most part, snowbirds range between 50 and 69 years old, are relatively active, and are wealthy. Florida is one of their favorite destinations, but you can also find them visiting museums in McAllen Texas, or playing golf in Green Valley, Arizona. Currently, Snowbirds can spend a maximum of six months per year in their sunny winter homes, but thanks to Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, their stay could be extended by two whole months. Rubio and Scott introduced Senate Bill 2507: The Canadian Snowbirds Act, which would allow Canadians that are 50 years and older to spend up to eight months at a time in the United States while they escape the harsh Canadian winters. Currently, Canadians that stay for more than six months per year have to pay federal taxes on their income. As a result, most snowbirds avoid staying for longer stretches of time in the United States. The Canadian Snowbirds Act will allow snowbirds to stay longer in the United States without having to be taxed as American citizens.

The reasoning behind this bill is clear, snowbirds are good for the Florida economy. The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service conducted a study which found that in 2017, 3.5 million Canadians visited Florida and spent $6.5 billion in the sunshine state. Canadian tourism is believed to have generated about $686.5 million in tax revenue. These numbers make it easy to understand why states like Florida and New York are so eager to keep our Canadian neighbors for longer.  Florida’s tourism-driven economy stands to receive millions of dollars more if Canadians are allowed to stay for longer in the state.

This is not the first bill of its kind. Last year then-senator Bill Nelson teamed up with Marco Rubio and introduced a similar bill. Unfortunately, it never even made it to a hearing. Surprisingly, the Canadian Snowbird Act has bipartisan support at a time when Republicans and Democrats are battling over border security. Republican U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott joined forces with Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch to sponsor the bill.  But despite the bipartisan support, the bill still faces an uphill battle because lately immigration-related bills haven’t been successful. The reason for this is that politicians are reluctant to pass laws that could be perceived as weakening the country’s immigration laws. The solution to this problem, is for the bill’s sponsors to argue that the focus of the bill is more about creating jobs and not so much about immigration.