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POLITICO: Environment, Energy Bills Squeeze through Final Senate Committee Meeting

Thursday, March 03, 2016

By Bruce Ritchie

11:36 a.m. | Mar. 3, 2016

TALLAHASSEE — A trio of environmental bills and a pair involving renewable energy remained alive Thursday as they passed the last Senate Appropriations Committee meeting of the 2016 legislative session.

All of the bills passed without debate and without opposing votes with time running out during the two-hour meeting.

SB 170 would amend the constitution to extend from residential to all property a tangible personal property tax exemption on renewable energy devices. SB 172 would put the measure on the 2016 ballot.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg and bill sponsor, said he was “ecstatic” about the bills passing their final committee stop.

“I think this is the right policy at the right time,” he said. “And I’m excited we’re going to have a discussion about it on the Senate floor.”

SB 172 was amended to move the measure from the November general election ballot to the Aug. 30 state primary. An appropriation to advertise the ballot measure was deleted, eliminating the bill’s fiscal impact.

Groups supporting the bills included the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club Florida and the Florida Retail Federation.

“Increased use of free, homegrown solar energy just makes business sense, especially in a state with such abundant sunshine,” Randy Miller, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation, said in a statement.


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