It’s no surprise that with election season in full-swing, there has been little talk of the 2013 Session, with the exception that expectations are high for a brighter economic picture. And with Florida’s state economists forecasting a continuing gradual recovery, there a glimmer of hope that increased real estate sales and tourism next year will allow for a renewed debate on tax relief and reduced regulations.
However, until the general election is over in November, we shouldn’t expect to see any movement on any substantive issues from the Florida Legislature. It’s a ghost town at the Capitol, and the Legislature will not return until November 20th for a one-day Organizational Session, and then will likely hold a week of committee meetings in December.
This election cycle is particularly important to FATA as a number of our long-time loyal legislative allies are moving on to new challenges away from the legislative arena, and we wanted to take a moment to recognize them one more time for their faithful service to general aviation in Florida and to our membership:
• Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Bennett—Senator Mike Bennett was one of our first legislator-of-the-year recipients, and he was always willing to sponsor legislation or amendments that FATA needed to advance the cause of general aviation. His tenacity over the past two years on the maintenance and repair tax exemption and the intangible tax this past session was critical to success on those issues in the senate. Senator Bennett won his primary election for Manatee Supervisor of Elections, and he is projected to win the general election as well.
• Speaker Dean Cannon—Representative Cannon, also a legislator-of-the-year recipient, spoke at the FATA conference in 2005, and he pledged to do whatever he could to assist general aviation. He was a driving force on our tax issues in the house, and we would not have had our victories on the use tax, maintenance and repair tax, or the intangible tax, without his able assistance. Representative Cannon is retiring from holding elective office (at least for now) after eight years in Florida House of Representatives.
• Senator Steve Wise—Senator Wise sponsored the use tax legislation in the senate the first two years of a three year effort. His influence with senate leadership was demonstrated repeatedly as our legislative proposal appeared in numerous senate bills during those two years. Senator Wise is retiring after twenty-three years in the Legislature.
Two other FATA-friendly legislators who have guided FATA legislation through the process over the past eight years have reversed their respective roles. Senator Mike Fasano, the sponsor of the use tax legislation, who was termed-out in the senate, won his primary for the House of Representatives, and his fellow Pasco County delegation member, Speaker Pro Tempore, Representative John Legg who was termed-out in the house, won his primary for the Florida Senate and is without opposition in the general election, thereby assuring him of the senate seat. Additionally, provided he wins his general election, former State Representative Aaron Bean, who assisted FATA when he was in the house, will return as new state senator from Duval County. Representative Steve Crisafulli and Senator Thad Altman, who both played a significant role in the maintenance and repair tax exemption legislation, are expected to win their general elections.
Although we are losing some incredible talent as our legislative friends leave Tallahassee, we will field an impressive team of legislators willing to engage on general aviation issues. FATA looks forward to working with our good friends in the house and senate, and making new friends with the dozens of new legislators that will arrive on November 20th.
By Eric Prutsman, Prutsman & Associates Tallahassee, FL FATA Lobbyist