The legislation had strong Republican support in both chambers. But late last week, the Senate was unable to pass a bill. ''It was a last-minute surprise,'' said David Downing, deputy director of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater. Florida counties say they are losing about $30 million a year in tourist development and local sales taxes on lodging. In Pinellas, online travel companies skirt about $1.4 million in taxes annually, says Tax Collector Diane Nelson. Hillsborough officials estimate the loss is $400,000 to $500,000. ''This is a win not only for Pinellas County but for the entire state of Florida,'' Nelson said Monday. "Tourist tax dollars are vital to the local tourism industry, and we want to make sure that all taxpayers are on the same playing field." Get the full story at St. Petersburg Times