Florida Legislature: Interesting Bills

The MSM will follow a lot of the major issues throughout session, and those bills won’t appear much before session — if not during. Yet a lot of the other bills can be interesting. The State of Sunshine will be exploring some of these, tracking them as they move through the process.

Here is the first list.

HJR 23Rep. Carl Domino (R-Juno Beach)
This might be called the “Save Our New Homes” Amendment. It proposes an amendment to the Florida Constitution that would permit a reduced valuation on homestead assessments. Basically, if you sell your home and buy a new one within a year, the legislature can specify how the property appraiser will assess your new home (with some limitations).

HB 33Rep Stan Jordan (R-Jacksonville) /
This is a response to a nasty Republican primary for Senate District 8. Incumbent Senator Jim King won a tough fight from conservative activist Randall Terry. In that race, the voters were inundated with automated, recorded telephone calls — so called “robo calls.” This bill, and it’s companion bill (SB 322 by Sen. Jim King R-Jacksonville) would prohibit these kind of calls to homes on the state or federal “Do Not Call Lists”

HJR 75Rep. Bob Allen (R-Merritt Island)
This bill changes the “Save Our Homes” Amendment into the “Save Our Property” Amendment. This bill, and it’s companion bill (SJR 378 by Sen. Mike Fasano R-New Port Richey) It would apply the same limitation on increases that exist on homestead property to all real property.

HB 163Rep. Tom Anderson (R-Dunedin)
This is another property tax bill, that would alter the valuation of property. Currently, property appraisers are required to factor in the “highest and best use” of a property when arriving at a just valuation for the property. This means that even if you never intend to change the use of the property, if it ‘could’ be used for other, more valuable purposes, that use must be factored into the value of your property. It generally applies to newly purchased property. This bill would repeal that language, leaving in place the “present use” of the property as a factor in determining valuation.

SB 92 Sen. Carey Baker (R-Lake Mary)
This bill would reinstate the sales tax holiday for hurricane preparedness supplies, making it an annual 12-day ‘holiday’ starting on the next-to-last Sunday in May.

SB 132Sen. Stephen Wise (R-Jacksonville)
Would raise the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.

SB 134Sen. Larcenia Bullard (D-Miami) & SB 216Sen. Steven Geller (D-Hallandale Beach )
Would allow card rooms at pari-mutuel facilities to conduct dominoe games. Imagine, gambling on dominoes!

SB 146Sen. Paula Dockery (R-Lakeland)
This is Governor Charlie Crist’s “Anti-Murder Bill” — it would prohibit granting bail or pre-trial release to certain criminals arrested for violation of probation or parole.

SB 220Sen. Evelyn Lynn (R-Ormond Beach)
This would require local governments to reduce their millage below a specified amount in order to receive the local option sales tax revenues. Hillsborough County, for example, has two half-cent local option sales taxes: the Community Investment Tax, and the indigent care tax.

SB 312Sen. Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey)
This bill would require gas stations to make some disclosures affecting debit cards. Gas stations are permitted to place a hold on your funds when they authorize a debit card. This has become a major problem with the higher cost of gasoline. Often times, stations will hold $75.00 or more from your checking account when you use your debit card — they will claim that this will ensure you have enough funds to fulfill your use. However, when you complete the transaction, the hold may remain for several business days. The State of Sunshine urges everyone to contact Senator Mike Fasano and thank him for filing this legislation.

SB 380Sen. Mike Bennett (R- Sarasota)
This is one of the first attempts to shift regulation of cable television services from local governments to the state goverment. It is primarily the objective of the telephone industry, who do not want to provide some of the public access, education and government stations local goverments often require. The bill prohibits local governments from requiring cable providers, including both cable and telephone companies, to provide these services in exchange for the right to use public rights of way.

SB 494Sen. Mike Bennett (R- Sarasota)
This bill has already seen some publicity – it is the “None of the Above” Bill. Actually, it would require all ballots to include an option for voters to indicate that they chose not to vote for any candidate in a given election.

So, these are the first bills we think are interesting. There will be more, and some of these will have no chance of passing. The State of Sunshine will monitor these and more as the session moves forward.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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5 Responses to Florida Legislature: Interesting Bills

  1. Joel says:

    I think the “none of the above” bill is pretty silly.

    Glad to see you’re back in the game.

  2. Jim Johnson says:

    The bill actually states:

    (8) For each office on the ballot, in addition to the names of candidates or a blank space for a write-in candidate, the ballot must include a selection that states “I choose not to vote.”

    It doesn’t really say “None of the above,” although that is the impact.

    And Dent’s thought that it has to spell out what happens is irrelevant. State law says the candidate that receives the largest number of votes wins; since “I choose not to vote” is not, technically, a candidate – those votes would not be counted.

  3. tally says:

    I was going to email Fasano thanking him for SB312, the gas station bill, like you suggested, when I saw that he was also responsible for SJR378, the “Save Our Property” bill. I can’t see how that would help anyone but developers. Am I missing something?

  4. Jim Johnson says:

    Tally —

    Technically, it will help anyone who owns non-homestead property.

    It takes the 3% cap that applies to homestead properties and applies it to all real property in Florida. It also sets a limitation when someone sells their homestead property and buys a new one.

    It’s not quite “portable”, but it’s close to making your Homestead Exemption portable to a new property anywhere in the state. This prevents people from being trapped in there homes — because the taxes on a new home would be too much.

    The bill makes the property tax system more equitable, by helping keep businesses and rental properties from an ever growing share of the property taxes.

    Finally, the one area that it will hurt is local governments. They will have to make harder choices with their budgets. If all properties are subject to a cap on increased assessments – they will have smaller increases in the future, which could be smaller than their fixed-costs increase (health and property insurance, for example).

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