The House has quite a number of committees meeting today; however, most of the bills are really nothing special. The Environment and Natural Resourcs Council will consider HB 531 by Rep. Kevin Ambler, which requires online dating services to provide a “dating safety” disclosure, including whether the site conducts backround checks on its members. The bill is being pushed by True.com, a site that conducts background to weed out married people and criminals.
The Committee on State Affairs will consider a couple of property tax bills: HB 261 by Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, which amends the procedures used for determining the just valuaton of a property by removing the “highest and best use” language; and HB 389 by Rep. Garrett Richter, which alters the property tax notices sent to property owners to include previous and proposed millage rates.
The Committee on Local and Urban Affairs will hear a series of local bills, including two from the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation – both by Rep. Rich Glorioso: HB 1153 on the Hillsborough Aviation Authority, a non-controversial bill that provides the authority with greater flexibility in the contracting of services; and HB 1293 on the Public Transportation Commission, allowing the PTC to adopt a rule that ensures there are more taxi cabs accessible for disabled persons.
Across the rotunda in the Senate, there are also a few bills to note: In the Higher Education Committee, SB 254 by Sen. Stephen Wise will provide a sales tax exemption for class-required textbooks sold at on-campus bookstores.† In the same committee, SB 552 by Sen. Gwen Margolis would allow charter counties to have a referendum on a ½ cent sales tax to fund some community college operations (workforce programs, capital expenditures, etc. as spelled out in the bill).
The Senate Community Affairs Committee will conduct a workshop on three property-tax bills: SB 786 by Sen. Rudy Garcia is a shell bill on Property Tax administration, SB 508 by Sen. Mike Fasano is a bill to remove “highest and best use” from the process for determining just value of a property, and SB 722 by Sen. Jeff Atwater also removes “highest and best use” but adds that income-producing properties should include the income as determining the value of the property. [Sidebar: The Orange County Property Appraiser a few years ago tried using the income value for billboard properties. The outdoor advertising industry fought back, mostly because the provision in SB 722 did not exist in Florida law.]
- Shell Bill is a bill that simply states that the sponsor intends to file legislation on a specific subject. The actualy substance of a shell bill is introduced at its first committee hearing, in the form of an amendment.
- Workshop is a public hearing on a topic or specific bill, testimony is heard from the public, and staff may provide analysis and research. Members will often even debate and question each other about the subject matter. The important distinction is that no formal vote is expected on the bill (and I believe rules prohibit a final vote when the public notice is for a workshop only).
† Disclosure: My brother works for Barnes and Noble College Bookstore, but at a school in New Hampshire. Barnes and Noble College Bookstore is a separate company, but manages 21 on-campus bookstores in Florida, including Florida Southern College, Eckerd College, the University of Tampa and the University of South Florida here in the Tampa Bay area.