Palm Beach County officials reacted with anger Wednesday to the passage in the Florida House of Representatives of a joint resolution that would allow voters to decide if they want to expand the homestead exemption from $50,000 to $75,000.
The expansion plan, approved on a vote of 81-35, must be approved by three-fifths of the Senate and then by 60 percent of voters before it could become law on January 1, 2019.
County officials argue that the expanded exemption will suck at least $29 million from its budget. The overall impact on area governments is more than $70 million, they say.
“I’m disgusted that the House leadership would think this is a tax cut for the people,” Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said. “This is a tax shift.”
Former Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor is putting together a breakfast meeting Saturday to call attention to legislation she argues will harm residents of the Glades, an impoverished area along the banks of Lake Okeechobee.
The object of Taylor’s ire is a bill filed in the Florida Senate (SB 10) that calls for the purchase of land south of the lake for a reservoir project that would end the necessity of the lake discharges blamed for the algae bloom that fouled water along the Treasure Coast last year.
The legislation, authored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, calls for the land to be purchased from willing sellers. But Taylor, a former state legislator whose district included the Glades, worries landowners in the area would be compelled to sell.
One area of particular concern, Taylor said, includes a mill that employs more than 1,000 people.
The closing of that mill “would be devastating to that area,” Taylor said, adding that she is frustrated that there have been no public discussions of the legislation’s potential impact.
Taylor is organizing a “call to action” breakfast from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at Payne Chapel A.M.E. Church at 801 9th St. in West Palm Beach.
The Florida Association of Counties has organized a pot summit that will be held in the Orlando area on Saturday, and, no, neither Cheech and Chong nor Snoop Dog are expected to attend.
Instead, county officials from across the state – including Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay – are gathering to discuss the issues surrounding the legalization of medical marijuana.
The county is waiting to see what state legislators do in the area before crafting its own set of regulations.
County officials hear from the director of the Florida Dept. of Health’s Office of Compassionate Use on what steps DOH have taken so far in regulating and implementing medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.
Other presenters will include county attorneys, law enforcement and officials from Denver, whose high-profile legalization has come with a few snags.