Ports bills move ahead in both houses
TALLAHASSEE — The Senate Commerce Committee passed Senate Bill 1992, the “Florida Ports Investments Act”. The bill is aimed at providing incentives for insurance companies invest in exchange for future tax credits. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. The House version is passed.
On April 9, a House council passed HB 963 to assist seaport development by giving stronger assurances during the permitting process that the engineering and environmental concepts meet regulations. The bill also reduces the required match for rehabilitation of wharves, docks, berths, bulkheads, or similar structures from 50% to 25%, and authorizes seaports to enter into public private partnerships for certain projects. A Senate version of the bill was to be heard by a committee April 13.
Working waterfronts assessments bill
TALLAHASSEE — The House Full Appropriations Council on Education and Economic Development passed a bill implementing the working waterfront property constitutional amendment. House bill 7127 implements Amendment 6, approved by voters in 2008. Amendment 6 requires property appraisers to assess working waterfront properties on their current use and not highest and best use. The proposed bill provides definitions of working waterfront properties and how they can be assessed. Concerns were raised about a provision that expands definitions to include properties not included in the original constitutional amendment. The bill is ready to be heard by the full House. The Senate companion, SB 1408 by the Senate Finance and Tax Committee, was scheduled to be heard by the committee April 13.
Greenbelt bills go to House floor
TALLAHASSEE — The House General Government Policy Council approved House Bill 981, clarifying that when agricultural property is offered for sale, it will continue to be eligible for greenbelt assessment so long as its primary use is agriculture. Rep. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, sponsored the bill, which is now going on to the full House.
Renewable energy bill may increase rates
TALLAHASSEE — A government-backed loan guarantee program and $7.5 million in other incentives are part of a $25-million renewable energy bill approved 10-1 by the House Energy and Utilities Policy Council April 9. The 64-page bill is aimed at encouraging voluntary development of clean energy sources such as biomass from plants and animals and solar energy.
The bill would also remove a barrier to the Babcock Ranch development in Charlotte and Lee counties becoming the first solar city in the U.S.
Last year, the Florida Senate approved a plan that would have required power companies to increase use of renewable energy by 20% by 2020, up from 2.5% today, but the House didn't go along with it. The bill allows electric utilities to charge customers up to $400 million to develop 735 megawatts of solar power. Even so, a lobbyist for the state's largest utilities says the bill will result in higher rates. That's because the legislation requires the utilities to purchase electricity, at 80% of the cost to generate the power, from companies that generate it by burning biomass.
The Tourist Development Council meets at 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 21, at the Historic Courthouse, 38053 Live Oak Ave., Dade City.
The Land Development Code Stakeholder Committee meets at 4 p.m., Wednesday, April 21, at the Land O'Lakes Community Center, 5401 Land O'Lakes Blvd. (US41), Land O'Lakes.
Three meetings are scheduled for citizens to comment and make suggestions as part of an evaluation of the county's comprehensive plan. The first meeting is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 20, in the A/B conference room, 2nd floor of the county administration building, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. The second meeting is at 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 21, at the Englewood CRA office, 101 N. Orange St., Englewood. The third meeting is at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 24, at the Nokomis Community Center, 234 Nippino Trail, Nokomis.
The Tourist Development Council meets at 9 a.m. Monday, April 19, at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.
The 14th Street West and the South County community redevelopment agencies will hold a joint meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 20, at the Harlee Full Service Family Center, 6423 9th St. E., Bradenton.
The Business Development Task Force meets at 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 20, at the North Port Sun office, 13487 Tamiami Trail, North Port.
The Charlotte Harbor community redevelopment area advisory committee meets at 11 a.m. Monday, April 19, at the Administration Center, room #119, Port Charlotte. For more information, contact Kathy Knee at (941) 627-3023.
The Industrial Development Authority meets at noon Wednesday, April 21, at the SunTrust Bank Building, 18501 Murdock Circle, Suite 502, Port Charlotte. For more information, contact Kathy Knee at (941) 627-3023.
The Immokalee Community Redevelopment Agency/Enterprise Zone Development Agency advisory boards meet at 8:30 a.m., April 21, at the Career and Service Center, 750 S. Fifth St., Immokalee.