June special session set on property taxes

Article Courtesy of Palm Beach Post

By Michael C. Bender
Published May 10, 2007


TALLAHASSEE State lawmakers on Wednesday officially called themselves back to work in June, saying they want a second chance to cut the property taxes that local governments impose.

"There is no doubt property taxes are too high and must be reduced," Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, said in announcing the June session. "We are committed to doing everything we can to provide meaningful and responsible relief to those who are being crushed under the weight of soaring taxes."

The special session will focus only on property tax cuts, according to a proclamation from Pruitt and House Speaker Marco Rubio.

But some lawmakers have appealed to Gov. Charlie Crist to expand the focus of the special session to address other unfinished business from the regular session that ended Friday - particularly improving access for the poor to health care through the state KidCare program and deciding whether to keep the state's "no-fault" auto insurance law from expiring.

If the legislature does not act, the requirement that Florida drivers buy personal injury protection coverage, which pays for up to $10,000 in medical expenses in an accident, will end in October.

"The governor has been considering these things, but his priority right now is giving people relief from skyrocketing property taxes," Crist spokeswoman Vivian Myrtetus said.

The special session will last from June 12 to 22, Pruitt and Rubio's proclamation said.

Lawmakers had said that reducing the amount of property taxes local governments can impose was the top goal of their annual 60-day spring session, but the House and Senate could not settle differences between their reform packages.

"I'm pretty optimistic that we'll be doing something significant during the special session," said Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale. "There's a high expectation out there and we need to meet it."

Bogdanoff is one of several local lawmakers on the joint committee that will meet May 21 and June 4. Others include Sens. Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach; Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton; and Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne.