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News from Tallahassee for 3/9/14
by STAN JASTRZEBSKI | WFSU
Taxes on hurricane supplies and defense contractors interested in locating in Florida would be scuttled under bills that received a first hearing Thursday.
The state has inaugurated several sales tax “holidays” in recent years and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach) wants to add another on hurricane preparedness supplies.
On Thursday, fellow House member John Tobia (R-Melbourne Beach) asked how much an average generator costs and how Gaetz chose to tax only those generators which cost more than $700...
Gaetz’s bill passed easily. So too did a measure from Rep. Jimmie Smith (R-Inverness) nixing taxes charged to defense contractors considering locating their business in Florida.
Senate could push for quicker stadium incentive review posted on 3/7/14
by Aaron Deslatte | Orlando Sentinel
TALLAHASSEE – Central Florida senators are working on a deal to allow Orlando’s soccer stadium to compete for state dollars as soon as this summer without requiring the Legislature to later sign off on the $2 million annual tax break.
The House has already started advancing a plan to require stadium tax-subsidies to go through a competition for public dollars based on their economic boon.
The Senate plans to go along, provided the projects selected don’t have to make a return visit to the Legislature for final approval.
The time difference is critical for Orlando’s $85 million Major League Soccer stadium which is slated to be under construction by 2015.
“As soon as we set the parameters and setting the methodology for getting this done, there’s no reason for it to come back to the Legislature,” said Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, who is pushing a package to provide incentives for the Orlando City Soccer stadium planned for downtown.
Scott pushes tax cuts, bashes Crist in ‘State of the State’ posted on 3/5/14
by MATT DIXON and JAMES L. ROSICA Tribune/Scripps Capital Bureau
TALLAHASSEE — Underscoring priorities his administration already is working on, Gov. Rick Scott today opened the 2014 legislative session with his annual State of the State address.
Scott’s speech differed in tone from opening-remarks given by legislative leaders who said the final session before the 2014 mid-term elections should focus on “policy, not politics.”
The governor often sounded like a man giving a stump speech, not a policy address. And his slogan, “Let’s get to work,” has evolved into “Let’s keep working.”
During his 30-minute speech, Scott took thinly veiled shots at Democrat Charlie Crist, who is Scott’s top challenger...
Scott’s top priority going into the legislative session is a package of fee and tax reductions totaling $500 million.
“Together, we have cut taxes 24 times already,” Scott told a joint session of the Legislature. “And my hope is that we are about to cut them again ... by another $500 million this year.”
That includes roughly $400 million from rolling back vehicle registration fees that were increased in 2009. The move would mean a savings of roughly $25 for the average motorist. The remaining $100 million is from reducing the levy on commercial leases...
Scott has also made tuition cuts one of his top priorities. This year he has called for doing away with the so-called “differential tuition,” which allows university boards of trustees to raise tuition up to 15 percent a year without approval from the Legislature...
His position marks one of the few early gaps between his agenda and the goals of legislative leaders, who have proposed capping the increase at 6 percent but keeping the differential program in place.
Fla. lawmakers to kick off session posted on 3/4/14
by GARY FINEOUT | AP
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida legislators return to the state Capitol on Tuesday for a 60-day session that will likely focus on tax cuts, spending and school vouchers, but avoid many of the contentious issues that sparked partisan rancor and fierce debate in the last few years.
The tone for the session will likely be set by Gov. Rick Scott, who is expected to ask the Republican-controlled Legislature to back his election-year agenda of tax cuts and keeping tuition rates at their current levels.
Florida lawmakers between now and early May are expected to cover everything from guns to gambling and whether or not to overhaul the state's massive pension system for state workers.
While the first day is usually long on ceremony, the Florida Senate plans to pass bills intended to crack down on sex offenders. The main goal of the proposed laws will be to strengthen the Jimmy Ryce Act, which allows for the civil commitment of sexual predators once they finish their prison terms.
Still legislators may wind up pushing off some items to avoid controversies that could harm Scott's bid for re-election. Scott, who had never run for office before 2010, is seeking a second term though battling consistently low poll numbers.
Scott has yet to weigh in publically this year on whether he favors any of the gambling proposals under consideration, or if he is willing to back a push by legislative leaders to limiting the type of retirement benefits that future public employees can receive.
House Speaker Will Weatherford said he was comfortable with Scott's cautious approach.
"We would love to have the governor's public support, but I think we respect the fact he wants to sit back and wait to see what the bills actually look like," Weatherford said.
Fla. Gov. will use speech to stress tax cuts posted on 3/3/14
by GARY FINEOUT | AP
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Gov. Rick Scott will kick off the 2014 legislative session by asking legislators to approve his tax cut package and by asking to keep tuition rates low.
Scott's State of the State speech Tuesday will be one of the highlights of the opening day of the 60-day session.
While the first day is usually a lot of ceremony, the Florida Senate plans to pass bills intended to crack down on sex offenders. The main goal of the proposed laws will be to strengthen the Jimmy Ryce Act, which allows for the civil commitment of sexual predators once they finish their prison terms.
Florida lawmakers are expected to cover everything from guns to gambling this year.
But many contentious issues may get pushed off another year to avoid controversies that could harm Scott's bid for re-election. Scott, who had never run for office before 2010, is seeking a second term but he has been battling consistently low poll numbers.
Scott will use his speech to press for more than $500 million in tax and fee cuts he's seeking this year. The Republican governor wants to roll back auto registration fees that were increased back in 2009 when Democratic challenger Charlie Crist. He is also seeking a break in taxes charged on commercial rents and he wants to expand the state's existing back-to-school sales tax holiday.
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