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Rep. Eagle gives CCCIA legislative roundup

By Staff | May 12, 2017

The Florida Legislature voted this past session to put a proposed homestead exemption of an additional $25,000 on the ballot this November, which is great news for homeowners.

For municipalities, maybe not so much, and one Cape Coral City Council member let his feelings be known Thursday at the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association’s monthly meeting at Palmetto Pines Country Club.

The guest speaker was State Rep. Dane Eagle, R-77, who gave a rundown on what had happened during the two-month legislative session. Mostly, he said, things went well in that they produced a budget, which they are mandated to do, if nothing else.

But it was the exemption that caught the attention of Councilmember Rick Williams. He knows that if voters approve the measure, it will be up to the cities to make up the difference.

This resulted in an exchange between he and Eagle.

“This will affect the ad valorem incomes of the cities? We’ve been trying to lower the millage and this could put a stop to that,” Williams said. “Does the state have plans to offset this?”

Eagle said Williams had a point about some cities, perhaps, having to cut services or raise the tax rates if voters approve the additional expemption , but added property valuations are increasing meaning more revenue if tax rates remain the same.

“With homestead, there’s a maximum 3 percent gain, so the philosophy of things going up doesn’t apply to them. The people who will pay for this will be unhomesteaded people,” Williams said. “I’d like to cut the budget, but most cities are still coming out of a mess, trying to catch up. This is bad timing.”

Eagle said if information comes out that this could hurt people, they’ll get that information out. If passed, the additional exemption would go into effect in 2018.

The state passed an $82.4 billion budget, with the aim to cut taxes by $1.3 billion in areas from business rent taxes to tax holidays for hurricane preparedness in June and school shopping in August.

The budget also includes $213 million toward Everglades restoration, which includes restoration of the Hoover Dike and the construction of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.

Eagle also worked on changing the way the state looks at the national construction codes created by the International Code Council.

Eagle said the building commission in the state would look at each code and determine their relevancy, cutting those that aren’t Florida specific or needed in the state.

“The idea is to get rid of fees and excessive regulation and make them Florida specific. What’s good for Montana may not be good for Florida,” Eagle said, pointing out a story of someone on Sanibel who was fined for painting his own house without a permit. It was later ruled he could.

He also wanted to help the construction industry in the state find quality workers, many of whom left the state following the housing collapse and didn’t return. Eagle helped create the Construction Workforce Task Force and suggested a focus on apprentice programs and high school courses geared toward construction.

“So many times, we talk about education and how you have to go to college and get a degree. There are so many good jobs in trades,” Eagle said.

Eagle also discussed the gambling agreement between the state and the Indian reservations, the intangible tax, workman’s compensation, and the movement to restore the right non-violent felons to vote.

Bill Johnson Jr., executive director of the CCCIA, said he heard a positive message from Eagle, but perhaps the state legislators need more time to push more bills through.

“He’s always had our association’s interests in his thoughts and has always been a champion for the industry and I’m glad he’s working on our behalf,” Johnson said. “It’s sad that you only have 60 days and that some good legislation dies. I wish it was a little longer and we can get more accomplished.”